Spokane, Wash.

YWCA of Spokane Supports Survivors of Gun-related Domestic Violence with Alternatives to Domestic Violence Program

Stephanie Holten, a domestic violence survivor, teamed up with the YWCA of Spokane to raise awareness about the continued need for legislation that protects victims from dangerous abusers.

Since 1903, the YWCA of Spokane has served the women and children of the Inland Northwest. Today, this 110-year-old mainstay in the Spokane community offers three pivotal programs: the Alternatives to Domestic Violence Programfree child care services, and the Women’s Opportunity Center.  While all three programs touch the lives of local women and families, the Alternatives to Domestic Violence Program is unique because it is the only state-recognized domestic violence service provider in Spokane County.

The program launched in 1977 with the goal of providing legal assistance, advocacy, counseling, and safe shelter and housing to domestic violence survivors. In the past 35 years, the program has continued to grow, and in 2012, the YWCA of Spokane supported more than 11,600 survivors of domestic violence and their children.

Recently, the Alternatives to Domestic Violence Program took a public stance on the issue of combating gun-related domestic violence. In Washington, domestic abusers have used firearms in 55 percent of all domestic violence homicides since 1997, according to the Washington State Coalition Against Domestic Violence.

The YWCA of Spokane, along with other Washington State advocates, reiterated support for the enforcement of current state and federal laws, such as the prohibition of domestic abusers with protective orders to possess a weapon. Without the lawful stripping of firearms and other weapons, domestic violence survivors with temporary protection from their abusers are left vulnerable to future violence.    

On May 3, 2013, the YWCA of Spokane hosted NBC's Rock Center alongside the Washington State Coalition Against Domestic Violence. A Spokane resident who personally experienced gun-related domestic violence told her story on the nationally-syndicated news program.

As reported by NBC, Stephanie Holten, a mother of two and a domestic violence survivor, filed a police report and took out an order of protection against her abuser. Unfortunately, the policemen who served Stephanie’s ex the protection order didn’t seize his concealed gun. Nine hours later, Stephanie’s abuser appeared at her doorstep, weapon in hand.

According to Regina Malveaux, Executive Director of the YWCA of Spokane, “The data shows the most lethal time for a victim [like Stephanie Holten] is immediately following when the abuser is served with a protection order; that is when our services are more vital." The YWCA of Spokane unwaveringly supports legislation that keeps firearms and other weapons out of the hands of dangerous abusers in the hopes that survivors can successfully escape the cycle of domestic abuse. 

The YWCA of Spokane offers many services for all women experiencing abuse and violence in their intimate relationships including:

Learn more about the YWCA of Spokane and their programs here, and visit them on Facebook