Legal Voice Sues Washington to Defend Rights of Domestic Violence Survivor and Her Son

No one should be placed in the double bind of needing protection and being punished when they ask for it. But this happened to Amy, a war veteran and domestic violence survivor who had her child taken away when she reached out for help.

We're defending Amy's rights to parent her child, and to not be blamed for the abuse committed against her. So today, we filed a lawsuit against Washington State's child welfare system to hold them accountable for wrongfully separating families.

After suffering severe physical abuse from her child's father, Amy did the things we encourage domestic violence victims to do: she fled her abuser, got a protection order, obtained full custody of her child, and sought safety. But her abuser's stalking made it difficult to find safe housing, and his failure to comply with his child support obligations meant she struggled to find health care coverage for her young son, who, like Amy herself, was suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder.

Amy reached out to the Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS) for help. Instead of providing the support she needed to parent her child, they took her son away, placing him in foster care for nearly 18 months.

The state used her status as a survivor against her, suggesting that she was an unfit parent because she was a victim of abuse. And instead of accommodating her disability as the law requires, they used it as a reason to separate her from her child.

Amy is seeking justice for herself and her son—but also for the countless other parents who have been wronged by this system. We've heard from survivors and their advocates that DSHS continues this unfair practice, despite strong evidence that children do better in their own homes, with their own parents, than they do in the foster care system.

We're hopeful that this case will not only bring justice to Amy and her son, but will also change the Department's unjust and unconstitutional response to parents who have suffered domestic violence and are trying to protect their children from harm. Thanks for being with us.


Will you stand up for parents like Amy who have their children wrongfully taken from them? Will you stand up for children like Amy’s son, who are taken from a loving, committed parent? Your donation of $50 supports our critical case against DSHS.


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