It is understandable that appearing in court before the person who abused you is the last thing you would ever want to do. Even the thought of answering questions in front of a video camera is terrifying, and you still can’t imagine how you’re going to get through it.

Although it may not be of any comfort to hear it, you are not alone. Many women have suffered through physical, emotional, and sexual abuse, and have successfully come out the other side. Making sure your abuser answers for his crimes can go a long way toward your recovery. These tips can help women stay calm as they prepare to give statements in depositions and in court if they are:

A Victim of Domestic Violence Who Is Called as a Witness for Criminal Charges

  • You have a right to protection – You may ask that your abuser sign a No Contact Order (NCO) so that he may not speak with you or visit your home for the duration of the trial, or file a petition for a Civil Protection Order (CPO) to prevent contact indefinitely.
  • Your counseling is private – If you are working with a domestic violence advocate, any communication that takes place between you and your advocate is confidential under Washington State Law and cannot be disclosed without your consent—unless there is an imminent risk of serious injury or death.

A Rape Victim Called Into Criminal Proceedings Against Your Attacker

  • You may bring support – Victims of sexual assault may choose any support person they wish to accompany them to all court proceedings regarding the assault, including depositions and police interviews.
  • You have a right to privacy – You can refuse to answer any questions about your past sexual behavior—including any marriages, divorces, or relationships—other than those involving your attacker. Your sexual activity before and after the attack is not relevant to the case, and the opposing attorney will have to show that any question you object to is relevant before you can be made to answer.
  • You may have the record cleared – If you reveal any information that you want to keep private, you may request that it be taken out of the public record.

The best way to maintain your distance in court is to have an attorney speak on your behalf. Fill out the short contact form above to tell us your story, and we will be happy to contact you privately with advice.

Molly B. Kenny
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Divorce and Child Custody Attorney Serving Bellevue and Seattle Washington
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