Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault in Seattle

Consent is the line that separates normal sexual relations from sexual assault. In many cases, a sexual relationship may be born of consent but as the relationship changes, may turn into sexual assault. The emergence of domestic violence in a relationship often triggers the shift between a consenting sexual encounter and sexual assault.

Seattle area domestic violence attorney Jennifer Horwitz is all too familiar with good relationships gone bad stories, be they from the victims or the accused. Jennifer’s compassionate nature means she understands that a relationship is made up of many parts and counsels each client without judgment. She approaches each client with empathy and wants to help him or her, regardless of the situation.

The Differences Between Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault

Domestic Violence

Domestic violence by itself is not a crime, it is a category of behaviors that are harmful to people we are close to. The behaviors themselves are generally crimes, such as causing bodily harm, threats of bodily injury, sexual assault, stalking, or harassment. To be considered domestic violence, these behaviors must be directed at a partner, family member, or household member.

In situations in which a person is experiencing domestic violence, the Revised Code of Washington allows the person to petition the court for a domestic violence order for protection. A civil order prevents a person accused of domestic violence from coming close to or having contact with the alleged victim. Jennifer Horwitz has experience representing and protecting the rights of both victims and those accused in petitions for a domestic violence order of protection.

Sexual Assault

Sexual assault refers to a number of crimes, including rape, molestation, and indecent liberties, which may constitute domestic violence. The common thread among the crimes constituting sexual assault is that they all involve some form of sexual activity without consent. 

Consent means that when sexual intercourse or contact takes place, some words or actions indicate an agreement to participate in sexual activity. Consent is an ongoing state of mind and can be withdrawn at any point during sexual activity.

Crimes falling under the category of sexual assault include rape (in the first, second, and third degrees), indecent liberties, and child sex offenses. Jennifer Horwitz has represented hundreds of criminal defendants in state and federal prosecutions of these charges.

Rape involves engaging in sexual intercourse without the consent of another party. The three degrees of rape are distinguished by the method in which the lack of consent is overcome. First-degree rape involves the use of force with a deadly weapon, kidnapping, results in serious physical injury, or involves a felonious entry into the victim’s residence or vehicle. Second-degree rape involves the use of force when the victim is incapable of consenting based on incapacity. Third-degree occurs when there is no threat of physical harm to the victim, but the victim did not consent to sexual intercourse or there was a threat of harm to property. Rape is a felony and is punishable by between 5 years and up to life in prison.

Indecent liberties involve causing another person to engage in sexual contact by force or when the person is incapable of consenting. Sexual contact is any touching of intimate body parts for sexual gratification. Examples of sexual contact are touching genitals or other body parts without consent. Unless force is involved, taking indecent liberties is a class B felony punishable by up to 10 years in prison. 

How Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Are Related

Domestic violence occurs between people who know one another and have certain types of relationships, such as romantic partners, family members, or roommates. Sexual assault can occur regardless of the parties’ relationship. Neither domestic violence nor sexual assault is limited to a specific gender or relationship type. Both can occur in heterosexual and homosexual situations and a person of any gender may be a victim. 

In Romantic Relationships

Romantic relationships often evolve. In many cases, both parties consent to a sexual relationship at first but one party begins to withdraw consent once characteristics of domestic violence appear. Threats of physical harm or fear of angering a partner often lead victims of domestic violence to continue a sexual relationship without fully consenting. In such cases, the sexual assault may continue until the victim decides to get help or leave the relationship.

In Household Relationships

Domestic violence and sexual assault often occur between people living in the same household because they have no way of escaping the situation. Children are often victims of domestic violence because they are afraid to speak up and have nowhere else to go. Whether it be abuse or sexual assault by a parent, stepparent, grandparent, sibling, or aunt or uncle, any such behavior constitutes domestic violence. Domestic violence can also include unrelated parties who live in the same household, such as roommates, foster parents, or guardians. 

If You Are a Victim of Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault

If a partner or member of your household commits domestic violence against you, there are ways to protect yourself. Even if you do not want the person assaulting you to go to jail, you can still ask the court to order the accused to stay away from you at all times. Jennifer Horwitz has helped hundreds of clients get domestic violence orders for protection that prevent contact between the victim and the accused. Jennifer’s understanding of the law means she knows how to persuade the court to give you an order of protection.

If You Are Accused of Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault

If you have been wrongfully accused of domestic violence and sexual assault, you have rights in both criminal and civil proceedings. Having experience in Washington’s criminal and civil courts allows Jennifer Horwitz to represent you in both criminal prosecution and a proceeding for a domestic violence order for protection. Having one attorney representing you every step of the way is one way to make sure your rights are not violated in either proceeding.

Consult with a Seattle Area Domestic Relations Attorney 

Whether you are a victim of domestic violence or crimes involving a domestic relationship or have been accused of domestic violence, attorney Jennifer Horwitz has over 25 years of experience representing clients on both sides of this domestic issue. Contact Jennifer Horwitz Law to discuss your case today.