Monroe PD’s domestic violence advocate
provides bilingual one-on-one support
MONROE — When police hear someone is being hurt, she gets the call to give care.
Jamie Ruiz is the domestic violence advocate with the Monroe Police Department. She works for Domestic Violence Services of Snohomish County (DVS), a nonprofit agency.
Every case is referred to her.
Ruiz, who speaks English and Spanish, reaches out to ensure survivors have help navigating what’s next, whether that be to write a restraining order, connecting with attorneys, assisting with child custody issues or simply needing emotional support.
“Some people want to be heard out, some need parenting plan help,” Ruiz said. “We try to figure out what best works.”
She receives five to seven such referrals each week in Monroe.
“One struggle with domestic violence is people think of physical assault,” said Monroe Police Cmdr. Paul Ryan. Controlling another person’s freedom, humiliation, verbal insults, intimidation, manipulation, deceit and withholding finances constitute domestic violence, too.
“911 calls aren’t always what they seem,” Ryan said. Officers are trained to ask the right questions to identify stress in relationships, Ryan said. Sometimes, alcohol and drug misuse disguise coping for abuse, Ryan said.
People can walk in to the Police Department, 818 W. Main St., to initiate asking for help.
There is also the Domestic Violence Services support line:
425-25ABUSE (425-252-2873). Leave a voicemail with details, or just ask for a call back, and a person from DVS will respond.
Friends can call this line on behalf of someone, too. In fact, a friend can create a bridge to someone in need getting DVS’ help, DVS representatives said.
Michael Whitney photo
Advocate Jamie Ruiz’s role is to give domestic violence survivors support by providing resources, guidance and a person to talk with after experiencing trauma. She speaks both English and Spanish. The Monroe Police Department has arranged to have a domestic violence advocate working with the department for many years now.
It takes a survivor, on average, seven incidents before they exit a situation. Circumstances can make it hard to walk away. Sometimes, children are involved.
Knowledge is power in getting out of a situation, Ruiz said. Knowing the resources available is one piece. Safety planning is another. These are areas Ruiz can help guide someone.
People who need to flee are set up with housing referrals from DVS’ housing department. They will also seek friends and family who might be able to take a survivor in. Emergency situations can relocate to an all-hours safety shelter DVS runs in central Snohomish County.
Chris McBride oversees DVS’ legal advocate department and its prevention and outreach department.
DVS does not have attorneys, but works to provide an umbrella of resources, McBride said. Access to attorneys is one of the nonprofit’s greatest needs, he said.
Ruiz provides emotional support in the courtroom and guidance outside of it. There is a “fear factor” involved that Ruiz tries to help assuage. “A lot of these documents aren’t in Spanish,” Ruiz noted.
With Monroe’s makeup, a bilingual advocate is important, Ryan said. Ruiz’s predecessor was bilingual, too.
Ruiz, for example, helps survivors compose their thoughts while writing protection order requests to be filed to the judge.
Survivors are often low-income, and may not have means to relocate, but domestic violence isn’t exclusive to any group. Ruiz gave the example* of a longstanding marriage where the husband became senile and the changes to his mind turned him into an abuser.
For police, when domestic violence occurs, if there is probable cause and less than four hours have elapsed, then police are required by law to make an arrest. Cold case assaults are not the same, Ryan said.
When cause is established, police can intervene in tactful ways without creating a visible scene, Ryan said.
Any red flag to an officer that indicates domestic violence is sent to Ruiz as a referral.
DVS does outreach and speaks with small groups.
Its purple-and-white pamphlets are across the county.
The 24-hour DVS hotline — 425-25ABUSE (425-252-2873) — takes calls in any language. Calls are free and confidential. They do take collect calls. They use phone interpreters to translate, and also have a few staff who speak Spanish, including Ruiz.
Its website is www.dvs-snoco.org
Mail can be sent to DVS at:
P.O. Box No. 7
Everett, WA 98206
DVS emphasizes to call 911 first in an emergency.
* - This story had been updated. Ruiz was giving a broad example, not a specific case that she worked.
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