OLYMPIA – Survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault will gain crucial protections and supports, and abusers will be held more accountable, under legislation signed into law by the governor.

“This year, we made our justice system more responsive to the trauma of survivors of sexual assault and domestic violence,” said Sen. Manka Dhingra, chair of the Senate Behavioral Health Subcommittee and vice chair of the Senate Law & Justice Committee. “We have a continual duty to help survivors reclaim their lives and move forward in a positive way, to understand that trauma exerts itself as a reaction and not just a memory. This year we prioritized survivors.”

  • SB 5180, sponsored by Dhingra, will make it easier for survivors to vacate sentences they received for offenses that were the result of being a survivor of domestic violence, sexual assault, or trafficking.
  • HB 1320, sponsored by Roger Goodman, modernizes, harmonizes and improves the efficacy and accessibility of civil protection orders, increasing access to justice for those who are vulnerable.
  • SB 5183, sponsored by T’wina Nobles, helps survivors of domestic violence strangulation get the medical assistance they need, and helps collect evidence for court cases that will avert further abuse and fatalities in the future.
  • SB 5177, sponsored by Annette Cleveland, eliminates marriage as a legal defense for rape—a defense that creates a loophole allowing sex offenders who move into the state to avoid registering here.

One additional bill passed the Senate but not the House. SB 5127, sponsored by Dhingra, would have increased access to therapy dogs that help children and vulnerable adults tell their stories of survival.

Since courthouses are closed because of the pandemic, this bill would have allowed those dogs access to public spaces so they can go to survivors to provide much-needed comfort when recounting their trauma.

Dhingra intends to sponsor SB 5127 again in 2022.