I truly hope your holiday season was a good one! Many people do not realize that the holidays, and related stressors, help to increase the amount of domestic violence assaults (and subsequent arrests) during this time every year. Additionally, research has shown that domestic violence increases during or immediately after the Super Bowl. Stressors such as finance, family guests, and/ or your team losing horribly tends to set people off. Due to poor coping strategies and mechanisms, it is not uncommon for this stress to spawn violent behavior. Students are not immune to these processes, but violence is sparked by different triggers. To understand how students can be effected by domestic violence at school, it is necessary to understand the domestic violence laws in Washington State. It is important to note that domestic violence laws are federally based and essentially are the same in every state.
Domestic violence, as defined in Washington, includes the following:
“Means the infliction or threat of physical harm against an intimate partner, and includes physical, sexual, and psychological abuse against the partner, and is a part of a pattern of assaultive, coercive, and controlling behaviors directed at achieving compliance from or control over that intimate partner” (RCW 70.123.020(4)).
Police are required to make an arrest in a domestic violence situation when all five of the following criteria are met:
- An assault has occurred;
- A primary aggressor can be identified;
- A domestic relation can be identified;
- The primary aggressor is over 16 years old; and
- The primary aggressor is located within 4 hours of the assault.
You may be asking how this applies to students. Well, it effects students when one looks at the domestic relation criteria. A domestic relation (or “intimate partner”) is defined as “a person who is or was married, in a state registered domestic partnership, or in an intimate or dating relationship with another person at the present or at sometime in the past. Any person who has one or more children in common with another person, regardless of whether they have been married, in a domestic partnership with each other, or lived together at any time, shall be treated as an intimate partner” (RCW 70.123.020(8)).
Current or previous roommates or anyone who is or has ever been in a dating relationship are where students tend to come in contact with domestic violence laws, frequently without knowing or understanding those laws. If all five of the above criteria are met, police have absolutely no choice… they must make an arrest, even when the victim does not want to pursue charges.
Be safe and have a great semester!
Detective Kirk Kimberly