Bellingham-Whatcom County Commission on Sexual & Domestic Violence


“We need to teach youth how to have healthy relationships and break the cycle.”


Policies & Protocols

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Family-Led School Response Protocol

Published Sept 2019

Sample response protocol for school districts responding to families impacted by domestic violence. The purpose of this guide is to empower teachers and staff to identify and respond to domestic violence.

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Student-Led School Response Protocol

Published Sept 2019

Sample response protocol for school districts responding to students impacted by sexual assault, stalking, domestic violence, or dating violence. The purpose of this guide is to empower teachers and staff to identify and respond to sexual and domestic violence.

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Domestic Violence in the workplace

Updated March 2019

Policy and procedure template for encounters with domestic violence in the workplace. You may cut and paste as needed to create a policy and procedure to fit your work place’s unique needs.

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Domestic Violence, Children, & Child Maltreatment

Published April 2005

This protocol is intended to provide guidance and procedural direction for law enforcement agencies, courts, Child Protective Services (CPS) workers, and service providers when responding to domestic violence in relationships where there are children, and the children may subject to maltreatment.

Plan to Disarm Domestic violence Defendants

Published Jan 2007

This best practice plan provide methods for disarming domestic violence defendants in the following sectors: 911 dispatch, law enforcement, victim advocates, probation, prosecution, defense attorneys, judges, and DV treatment providers.


Resource & Training Guides

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Responding to Domestic Violence: Faith Communities Toolkit

A faith community is one of the few places where you may have the abuser, survivor, and their children all in the same place, hearing the same message, and connecting to the same belief system. This toolkit supplies faith leaders with resources and best practices for supporting survivors and holding perpetrators accountable with their spiritual practice.

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Children Exposed to Domestic Violence 101: Training Manual

This “Train the Trainers” manual provides instruction on how to identify domestic violence, build understanding and empathy for survivors, support survivors and their children, understand the impact of DV on parenting, and cultivate resiliency in children.

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Domestic Violence & Dating: Info & Resource Handbook (3rd Ed.)

The sections of this handbook describe and discuss the characteristics of an abusive relationship, steps to intervention and the legal system. They are designed to provide the facts, the common warning signs of abuse and appropriate methods of intervention.


Glossary of Terms

The following is a list of commonly used words you may find in many of the Commission’s reports or resources. The Commission has compiled a glossary for our members that we often include at meetings and events to ensure that all attendees can participate with a shared knowledge and foundation.

PERPETRATOR The abuser, also sometimes referred to as the offender or batterer. In court, this person is usually the defendant, or the person accused of a crime. The survivor is usually the plaintiff, or the person who is accusing the defendant of a crime.

PEOPLE OF COLOR (POC) An umbrella term used primarily in the United States to describe any person who is not white. The term encompasses all non-white people, emphasizing common experiences of systemic racism. The term may also be used with other collective categories of people such as "communities of color", "men of color" (MOC), and "women of color" (WOC).

PRONOUNS Linguistic tools used to refer to someone in the third person. Examples are they/them/theirs, ze/hir/hirs, she/her/hers, he/him/his. In English and some other languages, pronouns have been tied to gender and are a common site of misgendering (attributing a gender to someone that is incorrect).

QUEER An umbrella term to describe individuals who don’t identify as straight. Also used to describe people who have non-normative gender identity or as a political affiliation. Due to its historical use as a derogatory term, it is not embraced or used by all members of the LGBTQ+ community.

SAFETY PLAN An advocate can help a survivor come up with a safety plan, which is a series of steps the survivor is planning to take to keep her and her children safe from an abuser, and/or to leave their abuser.

SEXUAL ASSAULT Used to describe a wide variety of abuses, including unwanted, coerced and/or forced sexual penetration and/or touch.  Penetration may be of the survivor or forcing the survivor to penetrate the actor; penetration can be accomplished with either a body part or other object. Similarly, contact can be sexual contact with the survivor or forcing a survivor to touch the actor.

SEXUAL HARASSMENT Unwanted verbal sexual advances, requests for sexual favors and other visual, verbal, or physical conduct of a sexual nature. Can occur in the workplace, school, and other settings (such as public transportation, shopping malls, community events, social gatherings, places of worship, health care facilities) and can create an intimidating or hostile environment for the survivor. The perception of the survivor, not the intent of the harasser, determines whether particular words or actions are harassing.

SEXUAL ASSAULT PROTECTION ORDER (SAPO) A civil order issued by a court at the request of a sexual assault survivor or by someone else on his/her/their behalf. The order can require the person who harmed you to stay away from you, your home, school, work or other places you request, and to have no further contact with you.

STALKING A pattern of conduct that places a person in fear for their safety, including behaviors or acts used by a person to harass, threaten, or intimidate another.

SURVIVOR A person being abused—physically, verbally, sexually or in another harmful manner—is referred to as a survivor. He/she/they can also be called a victim, though survivor is the preferred term.

U-VISA Type of Visa granted to a victim of criminal activity. Victims must have suffered substantial mental or physical abuse due to the criminal activity and possess information concerning that criminal activity. Law enforcement authorities must also certify that the victim has been, is being, or is likely to be helpful in the investigation or prosecution of the criminal activity.

VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN ACT (VAWA) A landmark piece of legislation that sought to improve criminal justice and community-based responses to domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking in the United States. The passage of VAWA in 1994 and its reauthorization in 2000, 2005, and 2013, has changed the landscape for victims who once suffered in silence.

ANTI-HARASSMENT ORDER (AHO) A civil order that asks the court to grant a ”stay-away” order against someone unreasonably interfering with your privacy or creating an intimidating, hostile, or offensive living environment for you.

DATE/ACQUAINTANCE RAPE Unwanted, coerced, and/or forced sexual penetration that occurs between people who are known to each other. This relationship may be a dating relationship, a blind date or "hook up." They may know one another well or only briefly.

DATING VIOLENCE Abuse that happens between two people who are dating and is typically used when discussing abusive teenage relationships.

DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS (DOC) Made up of dedicated professionals who work hard to improve public safety. Employees work in a variety of specialties and programs to administer a comprehensive system of corrections for convicted law violators in the state of Washington (RCW.72.09.010).

DOMESTIC VIOLENCE HIGH RISK TEAM (DVHRT) A multidisciplinary model designed to enhance our community’s response to intimate partner violence cases that pose the greatest risk of escalating to lethal or near-lethal assault. The purpose of the DVHRT is to facilitate early identification of the most dangerous DV offenders, establish clear channels of communication across disciplines, and provide a coordinated community response.

DOMESTIC VIOLENCE PROTECTION ORDER (DVPO) A civil order from the court telling the family or household member who threatened or assaulted you not to harm you again.

EMOTIONAL ABUSE Using a survivor’s emotions or manipulating their mental state in order to gain control—attacking someone’s self-esteem, using insults, humiliation, or attempting to convince the survivor he or she is mentally unstable or to blame for the abuse. This can also be known as verbal or psychological abuse.

EQUITY Trying to understand where people are coming from and give them what they need to be successful. This means not necessarily giving everyone the exact same thing (as in equality), but rather just what they need to live happily.

INTIMATE PARTNER VIOLENCE (IPV) Another term for domestic violence, sometimes also referred to as domestic abuse. While domestic violence typically refers to abuse happening between two people in a relationship, including a spouse and partner, parent and child, siblings, etc., intimate partner violence refers more specifically to abuse by a spouse or ex-spouse, or a dating partner or ex-dating partner. Intimate partner violence does not require sexual intimacy in order to occur.

LETHALITY ASSESSMENT PROGRAM (LAP) Based on the pioneering research of Dr. Jacquelyn Campbell, the LAP is used to identify survivors of intimate partner violence who are in highest danger of being killed by their intimate partners. Once a High-Danger survivor has been identified, the first responder immediately connects the survivor via a hotline call to the local domestic violence service program for emergency safety planning and enhanced service provision.

LGBTQ2IA+ An umbrella term that stands for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans, Queer/Questioning, Two-Spirit, Intersex, Asexual/Ally (often shortened to LGBT or LGBTQ+). The plus is included to be inclusive of all identities that may fall under the queer (see below) umbrella.

OFFICE ON VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN (OVW) Provides federal leadership in developing the national capacity to reduce violence against women and administer justice for and strengthen services to victims of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking. The OVW is a primary funding source for many domestic violence and sexual assault programs throughout the country.