Abuse of Vulnerable Adults – RCW 74.34 refers to “abandonment, abuse, financial exploitation and neglect” as the types of actions that vulnerable adults may need protection from.
This law does not address the fact that vulnerable adults are at the same risk, if not higher risk, of being stalked and harassed by predators. As a vulnerable adult, there is no protection under Washington State law to protect a vulnerable adult from the abuse of stalking or harassment. These actions are not included in the definition of “abuse” as written in RCW 74.34. The definition of abuse is left open to interpretation and is not specific in naming stalking or harassment as forms of abuse.
We propose that language which defines stalking and harassment be
included into RCW 74.34 so that our Vulnerable Adults have the same
protections against predators available to them as every other citizen
in our state.
As a review, please read the issues that led to my discovery of this critical omission in our law. I have written a “short synopsis” of the issues that transpired in the post linked here as VAPO – Vulnerable Adult Protection Order – Part One.
We had an emergency protection order in place (which Kathy violated several times) but at the court hearing to finalize the order, the Judge would not sign it because “abandonment, abuse, financial exploitation or neglect” did not occur. The Judge was clearly disturbed by Kathy’s actions and also agreed that Thomas needed protection – but the Judge said the way the law was written, he could not legally sign the order.
This also brought up the problem of the interpretation of abuse. What I consider “abuse” to Thomas would not necessarily be abuse to me or any other adult. It is individualized, and in this situation, the actions were abusive to Thomas. But without knowing Thomas, the Judge would not be able to understand how extremely distressed some actions of others make him.
This is how we came to the point we are at now – we need to have a sponsor in our Washington State Legislature for this amendment to RCW 74.34. We have a draft that was prepared by former Senator Maralyn Chase but unfortunately, she was not re-elected for 2019. Bill Request for Revision to VAPO
Please – contact your legislators regarding this critical issue. My senator is unable to sponsor this since he has already over-committed but will support any amendment which addresses this.
Protection of vulnerable adults—Petition for protective order.
The critical piece that is missing is that this RCW does not include protection or restraints from stalking or harassment (as defined in RCW 9A.46.110 – text of this RCW below)
Protection of vulnerable adults—Judicial relief.
While under the RCW, it is written that the court may order protection for vulnerable adults and restraining of the respondent from acts or actions which could be defined as stalking/harassment, it is not clearly defined. This leaves the vulnerable adult in a precarious position which is not clearly defined by Washington State Law.