If you are the victim of domestic abuse, one of the first things you should do is get a restraining order against your abuser. A restraining order won’t stop a person from attacking you if he or she really wants to, but it can protect you legally. It can also help you bring a situation to the authorities before it escalates into more abuse. Even if you care about you abuser, a restraining order is in your best interest.
A restraining order might also be called a protective order or a TPO (temporary protective order). Your state government runs the legal restraining order program, and it varies slightly in each state as to what requirements are needed to get a restraining order. If you are being abused, go to the courthouse in your county immediately. They can help you fill out the right papers to file for a restraining order.
When you apply for the restraining order, the state will contact you abuser to notify him or her about the order. Every state is different, but in general, your abuser may not try to come near you, even in public places. He or she will be banned from premises where you are sure to be (your home, your place of employment, your school, etc.), and cannot seek your presence in other public locations. For example, he or she cannot wait at your child’s daycare center, knowing that you have to stop there to pick up your child. You can also specify that you’re like all contact to be stopped. This means that your abuse cannot contact you via notes, phone calls, or even gifts. All contact must be made through a lawyer to your lawyer or to the court. There are varying degrees allowed here, depending on the state and your personal preferences.
If your abuser contacts you or comes near you, he or she is in violation of the restraining order. The best thing to do if this happens is to call the police right away. Even if your abuser “just wants to talk,” it is best to keep everything through the court systems. If you call the police, they will show up immediately and take care of the situation. Often, simply threatening to call the police is enough to get the abuser to leave you alone.
The restraining order can also order your abuser to do things other than stay away from you. He or she may have to pay bills for injury and damagers, continue to pay child support, relinquish property owned by you, attend violence classes, and so forth. If she or she violates these orders, you will not be in immediate danger. In this case, instead of calling the police, file a motion for contempt. This will let the courts know that there is a problem, and the situation can be remedied as soon as possible.
Domestic violence is not a small problem – it is a huge one. Your abuser, although he or she might apologize, needs to be helped. Filing a restraining order is the best way to protect yourself and those around you.