Washington State defines domestic abuse very broadly. Within the definition is the inclusion of inflicting physical harm through action or inflicting the fear of injury or harm to a family member or individual of the same household.
The law requires law enforcement to respond to domestic violence incidents and make an arrest if probable cause supports a domestic violence offense within the last four hours. In a number of situations, convicted offenders receive probation and an order to take a treatment program or counseling.
Purpose of treatment programs
Standards for perpetrator intervention are set by the Department of Social and Health Services. This agency also certifies the organizations able to provide intervention and treatment services. As a whole, the programs seek to assess the risks, needs and responsivity of perpetrators of domestic violence and hold them accountable through the documentation of cognitive and behavior changes, education and a number of intervention services. Abusers, both men and women, learn the impact of their actions and self-regulation techniques.
Effectiveness of treatment programs
Victims of domestic violence have an expectation of safety and protection from the justice system. Arrest and incarceration are often strong deterrents for repeat offenses, but it is not a cure for the problems of aggression, mental health influences and uncontrolled emotions. It takes the personal choice of an individual to pursue a treatment program wholeheartedly and make an effort to take ownership of their behaviors and change.
Abusers find help through reeducation and accountability programs, but the choice to change is a personal one. Mandatory rehab programs provide the opportunity to change.