Victory for Domestic Abuse Survivors

How the "Curbing Abusive Litigation Between Intimate Partners"

Bill Will Make a Difference

After thirteen years of marriage, Sonny* had had enough. Her husband had grown physically and verbally abusive, but when he poured boiling water on her so hot it caused a burn, she sought a domestic violence protection order. A court ruled in her favor and restricted Sonny’s husband’s contact with her and limited his visits with their 4-year-old-son. So he sued her.

He also sued his wife’s friend and boss, and her former boyfriend. And he sued several judges, the court employee who evaluated custody for their son, various county officials, and Sonny’s attorneys.

Through abusive litigation, abusers seek to control,

harass, intimidate, coerce, and impoverish survivors

and that’s exactly what Sonny’s husband did.

After Sonny spent six years fighting these frivolous suits intended to harass and exhaust her, the appellate court finally threw out the last of her husband’s legal actions after they found entirely in Sonny’s favor.

Legal Voice represented Sonny nearly a decade ago. However, in 2021, changes in the law will provide relief to the agony Sonny and so many others suffered. That’s because today, one of Legal Voice’s priority bills, ESSB6268, was signed into law by Governor Inslee. The bill minimizes the ability of an abuser to use the courts against a survivor. So, it allows someone like Sonny, with a domestic violence protection order, to seek an “Order Restricting Abusive Litigation,” a court order that limits abusers from filing harassing litigation and requires them to pay attorney fees and costs.

We’re proud of our work helping Senator Christine Rolfes write this bill and our lobbying efforts to get it passed because this will make a difference for people like Sonny. Importantly, we believe survivors without an attorney will be able to access the relief available in this legislation.

This is why we fight for women and LGBTQ+ people’s rights in the Northwest: we believe that legal equality should be lived equality. Thank you for your support in doing this work. Your support and contributions make a difference for women like Sonny.