WHERE TO GO FOR HELP WITH DOMESTIC VIOLENCE

No one deserves to be abused. The police are here to ensure your physical safety and to arrest perpetrators of domestic violence. Please call 9-1-1 to report any crime of domestic violence.

We realize, however, that a victim may not want to involve the police in such a personal and complex matter. There are organizations  available to help that are confidential, free, and focused on victim safety and empowerment. If you are being abused, whether physically, emotionally or mentally, please contact one of the following resources for help.

One of the best places to start looking for help is through Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Services (DVSAS). Services they offer are

Another excellent organization is Womencare Shelter. Their 24 hour domestic violence help line is (877) 227-3360 or (360) 734-3438. Some of the other services they offer are

Domestic Violence Protection Orders (Restraining Orders and No Contact Orders) and anti-harassment orders are issued by the courts, not the police. Petitioning the court for one of these orders can be confusing at best, and often overwhelming for someone who is already in a crisis situation. We strongly advise contacting one of the above resources to discuss your situation, devise a safety plan, and to obtain an advocate's help with the protection order if one is deemed necessary. An advocate will be able to help you through every step of the process and will even accompany you to court.

If you choose not to use an advocate's assistance, the court forms can be found at the Washington Courts website and are available in a number of languages.  They may also be picked up from Superior or District Court in the Whatcom County Courthouse, 311 Grand Avenue in Bellingham.

For assistance with the forms, visit Washington Law Help and click on the Domestic Violence & Anti-Harassment link. 

Which Court?
Both Whatcom County Superior and District Courts issue protection orders; Superior Court handles all cases where children are involved, or if the court is being asked to exclude one party from a shared residence, but outside of those rules it becomes cloudy as to which court one should go to. The Office of Assigned Counsel, Room 304 in the Whatcom County Courthouse, can help you in choosing the correct paperwork and direct you to the proper court. If referred to District Court, bear in mind that the office staff are not allowed to give out any legal advice nor to assist you with your paperwork, and if the paperwork is not completed correctly, you may not be granted the order you want. Please, get an advocate to help you!

Tribal members can file their paperwork through Lummi and Nooksack Tribal Courts, and should also bring those orders to Whatcom County Superior Court to ensure they are enforceable outside tribal jurisdiction.

Ferndale Municipal Court only issues orders as a result of criminal cases in Ferndale. Ferndale's Domestic Violence Advocate will contact you if you are a victim of a reported DV crime that took place within our city.