Domestic violence event speaks to men

The public is invited to take a stand against domestic violence in the community Oct. 5.

The Men Preventing Domestic Violence in Federal Way educational event will feature keynote speaker and University of Washington Coach Lorenzo Romar. Attorney General Rob McKenna, King County Prosecutor Dan Satterberg, Federal Way Judge Dave Larson, interim city manager Brian Wilson and many other male leaders will address the crowd. The breadth of the problem, and what can be done to curb it, will be discussed.

All are welcome, but the event is designed to speak specifically to men. Ninety percent of domestic violence perpetrators are men, Satterberg said.

"I'm very excited about the event," he said. "It has a unique focus. It's time for men to own this issue and accept responsibility for it."

The event will kick off Domestic Violence Awareness month. Attendees will learn about mentorships, prevention hotlines, coordinated faith-based efforts, legislative changes and subsidized treatment for defendants in need, among other things.

"In Federal Way, one of the biggest problems is indigent defendants not being able to afford treatment," Larson said.

Federal Way takes action

Domestic abuse and violence is an issue that has consistently plagued the nation, including Federal Way.

In 2006, interim city manager Brian Wilson, who served as the city's police chief at that time, proposed the Domestic Violence Initiative. The city hired a domestic violence prosecutor. The legislation makes it possible to prosecute those who commit domestic violence in the presence of a child. It also provides that a person using strangulation in a domestic violence crime can be charged with a felony.

"Obviously, domestic violence is a priority issue for the police department," interim police chief Andy Hwang said.

In 2007, Federal Way won a Municipal Excellence Award for its efforts against the crime. Though the police department's actions have made a dent in domestic violence, a steady effort to educate on the matter is needed.

"It's a serious issue in our community, and we need to bring awareness within our community," Hwang said.

The domestic violence unit is the largest in the King County Prosecutor's Office, Satterberg said. Staff works to prosecute the crime and ensure a victim's safety. In King County, one out of three murdered women are domestic violence victims, he said.

"We see enough of those to know that any one of these misdemeanor cases can turn out to be one of our homicide cases," Satterberg said.

The Federal Way Municipal Court also plays an integral role in attempting to sideline domestic violence. The court operates a domestic violence docket each week. There, the city's judges work with defendants to try to ensure they do not offend again. Treatment and rehabilitation is preferred over jail time, Larson said. Domestic violence perpetrators are 30 percent likely to recommit a similar crime if they do not participate in treatment, he said. Those that participate are 6 percent likely to recommit, Larson said.

Ongoing issue

Roughly 70 percent of domestic violence incidents go unreported, Larson said. This year through Sept. 17, domestic violence cases appearing in the Federal Way court number 429, court administrator Rae Iwamoto said. That is 15 percent of the court's total caseload through the September date, she said.

Domestic violence makes up 30 percent of the non-traffic related cases, Larson said. In the Federal Way court, domestic violence cases outnumber DUI cases, three to one, he said. The court only sees misdemeanor offenses. Domestic violence including a weapon or serious bodily injury is typically qualified as a felony.

"The pain it causes in our community is palpable," Larson said.

Speakers at the event hope attendees leave knowing more about domestic violence and how to prevent the crime. Larson said he hopes attendees leave with information about "how men can step up in the community and be involved in taking action to prevent domestic violence in the first place."

Check it out

The Men Preventing Domestic Violence in Federal Way event will take place at 7 p.m. Oct. 5 at Christian Faith Center, 33645 20th Ave. S. For more information, call (253) 835-2405.

Learn more

Federal Way Municipal Court Judge Dave Larson has drafted legislation that would extend the domestic violence probationary period for a perpetrator by three years. Those convicted of the crime would have five years to complete treatment. He is also working with local church leaders in hopes of beginning a domestic violence self-help program, similar to Alcoholics Anonymous. A hotline or group house may also be part of the program.

The legislation would give people who feel they are likely to commit domestic violence a way to get help by learning ways to avoid the violence before it occurs. Those found guilty of committing the crime would also be able to attend the group as a rehabilitation requirement. The legislation has not gone before legislators yet.

What is domestic violence?

Domestic violence includes physical and verbal abuse and battering. Abuse consists of a pattern of coercive behaviors exhibited by one person toward another person. The pattern is used in an attempt for the perpetrator to exercise control over the other person.

Battering is a behavior that consists of one person physically harming, arousing fear or forcing another person to act in a way he or she does not wish to act. Domestic violence typically occurs between partners, family members or persons who are familiar with each other.

Source: The National Domestic Violence Hotline Web site at

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