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, and that the police can provide only limited services. This is where Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Services (DVSAS) comes in. Some of the services they offer are
- 24-hour Helpline (360) 715-1563 or (877) 715-1563
- Walk In Services
- Crisis Intervention, Prevention, Safety Planning
- Legal, Medical and Social Service Advocacy
- Support groups for adults, teens and children
- Parenting After Violence program
- Protection Order assistance, court preparation and accompaniment
- Safe Housing Services - 24 hour a day emergency intakes for survivors of DV and their children (fully handicapped accessible including service animals.)
- Safe Hotel Stays
- Homelessness Prevention
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 DVSAS 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.
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 a DVSAS 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.