Pearson joins domestic-violence survivor to toughen law

OLYMPIA… Six years ago police went to Barbara Holland’s home and arrested the man who had tortured and threatened to kill her. She would learn that due to a change in state law approved just days after the assault, her attacker – a first-time domestic-violence felony offender – would not be supervised after being released from custody.

Holland became an advocate for domestic-violence victims. Frustrated that the state was no longer keeping track of offenders like the man who attacked her, she shared her story with Sen. Kirk Pearson; together the two worked to propose that the supervision requirement be restored.

In April the Legislature gave unanimous approval to Senate Bill 5070 which will place first-time domestic-violence offenders under Department of Corrections supervision when they are released to the community. Gov. Jay Inslee signed it Monday.

“I see Senate Bill 5070 as the beginning of the end. My advocacy won’t end with this bill becoming law – but what a wonderful beginning to the end of such a heinous crime. Senator Pearson did an amazing job writing up this legislation, and I am grateful to him and all the legislators who supported it,” Holland said.

She added, “This brings me healing. This feels like closure to me, to do something to help stop this from happening again. We believe this bill will save lives. There will be fewer victims because offenders will finally have someone watching them to ensure court requirements are followed. Many offenders are quick to lash out at their victims post prison.”

“This is all about stopping retaliation against victims of domestic violence,” said Pearson, R-Monroe. “By keeping an eye on these people after their release we can help stop them falling back into the same pattern of behavior that led them to harm those around them.”

“He really listened,” said Holland of meeting with Pearson.

“A domestic violence conviction is not your first felony, it’s the first time you’ve been caught for a felony,” said Holland. “Domestic violence is a belief system. Offenders need guidance and rehabilitation to change these life-long behaviors. Just being in jail doesn’t change them.”

Holland’s story is captured in a film that includes 9-1-1 audio and police photos of the 2009 incident and details the horror of her experience. She uses the film to show others a way out of dangerous relationships and let victims know that help is available. The film can be found here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-3EVH3L_jok

“Victims are a lot stronger than we think they are,” said Holland. “There are many resources for help.”