he state Legislature, with strong bipartisan support, has taken action to give victims of sexual assault the same protections now afforded those who have experienced domestic violence or stalking.
Assuming the legislation is signed into law by Gov. Jay Inslee, which is expected, courts will be able to grant protection orders for victims of sexual assault for more than the current two years. In some cases, those protection orders can now be permanent.
This should provide some emotional relief to victims who currently have to go back to court every two years to seek another protection order.
“There’s no reason why these victims should be treated any differently,” said Sen. Joe Fain, R-Auburn, sponsor of the legislation in the GOP-controlled Senate. “He or she should have the opportunity to protect themselves permanently, not just temporarily.”
Rep. Roger Goodman, D-Kirkland, sponsored the legislative fix in the Democrat-controlled House.
“This legislation will help provide relief for victims,” said Goodman. “Victims of sexual assault already experience so much trauma, we shouldn’t make them endure more just so they can feel safer.”
The two chambers came together and got the legislation approved with support from both parties. That’s as it should be. Legislation involving public safety is not political.
The Associated Press reported that, as of 2015, 28 states allow sexual assault civil protection orders. Of those, at least two allow them to be permanent — Colorado and Montana — according to the American Bar Association.
In Washington state, about 3,314 sexual assault protection orders were filed over a six-year period, according to the King County Sexual Assault Resource Center.
Victims of sexual assault should not have to be victimized over and over again by being forced to return to court to re-experience trauma by seeing their attacker and having to retell — relive — their ordeal over and over again.