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Instances of domestic violence are very difficult to get out of for victims. In a lot of cases, the individual who is causing the abuse is closely tied to the victim’s life, relationships, finances, and property.
Such an interwoven relationship with a person who is harming you can make it feel as though there isn’t a realistic way out. Restraining orders are an effective way to put some space between you and that individual, though.
We’re going to discuss how to get help for domestic violence in this article, giving you some tips on things to think about and how to ensure that you’re safe. Hopefully, the ideas below can give you an extra push to establish your protection from a dangerous individual.
Domestic Violence and Restraining Orders: A Guide
So, what does a restraining order do?
The first thing to consider is just what a restraining order can grant you in terms of protection. There are variances in different states, but we’ll take a look at the provisions that most states offer in restraining orders.
A provision is just a detail or factor of the restraining order that clarifies exactly what it is that the abuser cannot do if the order is granted.
One provision that’s common is a cease abuse order. This requires the abuser to stop harming or threatening to harm you. A stay-away order forces the individual to keep out of areas that you frequent.
That means your home, your school, place of work, or any other physical location. No contact orders keep the person from getting in touch with you in absolutely any way, even through the giving of gifts.
A restraining order can also call for the person to support you financially, determine who temporarily gets shared property, require compensation for previous damage, take away their firearms, and determine custody disagreements.
There may be more specific issues that you can settle through a restraining order, and those particulars should be discussed with your lawyer.
Appreciate What It Means to Take Out an Order
Before you explore how to get a restraining order, it’s important to understand that you’re opening a family court case when you set out to get one. A judge can give you a temporary restraining order before the case is settled, but the other party also gets the chance to go to court and refute your claims.
They can also make claims against you should they wish to do so. If there are other cases currently open against the abuser or that individual is on probation, you may have the option of a criminal protection order. This could be a quicker route to the result you’d like without as much of a chance of things going against your wishes.
The reason we mention this is that it’s important to appreciate your situation in relation to the fact that you might not win the case. If things go poorly in the case, it might just make your immediate situation more difficult.
That’s why it’s important to take time when constructing the case, seek out as much evidence as you can muster, and take the proper steps to win. If you have a good case, there isn’t any reason you shouldn’t be able to get a restraining order that meets your needs.
Do your best to start the filing process within a month of the instance of abuse. The sooner you bring things to court, the fresher and more accessible the evidence will be.
Additionally, the case has to be “current,” meaning that the abuse occurred during the last 30 days for a restraining order to be issued. You might still be able to take other legal action against the individual if that time has passed, but a restraining order might be crucial to your safety.
It can be hard to get yourself to take the step and get legal help. That action is a turning point in the relationship and sort of makes the abuse “real” in a sense. That can be difficult to accept.
That said, your physical safety and the safety of your children should be the most important factor. It’s up to you to make the decision to take legal action, but just keep in mind that the timeframe to effectively get a restraining order is a month in most states.
Keep All Possible Evidence
There are a lot of areas that provide evidence for instances of abuse. Correspondence on your phone is a big piece that can be used. Threatening text messages, voicemails, and emails are areas that can be explored.
You should also make an effort to take photos or document abusive social media correspondence. Even a post that is abusive should be documented somehow. It’s important to take the initiative to save that information, though, because posts can be deleted and it’s sometimes tough to retrieve that information.
Also, make a note to take photos of injuries you experience, medical reports, police reports, and anything else that might reflect the sort of threat that this individual poses.
Keep in mind, though, that you don’t need this kind of hard evidence to file a convincing report. It helps to have clear proof that the relationship is abusive, but your statement can be enough to make an effective case. Additionally, your legal help might be able to assist you in finding proof where you didn’t think there could be any.
If you’re short on evidence, though, that’s all the more reason to take a lot of time on your initial statement.
Planning Your Statement
Your initial claim as you apply for a restraining order is a very important piece of the process. It’s key that you plan out your statement thoughtfully and cover everything you want to say concisely.
It’s an official statement is sworn to the court. Additionally, it’s public record and can be used in future cases to support or work against you. Do your best to make sure that the things you say here are factual and will work to serve your interest in getting a restraining order.
Note that it’s difficult to change or adjust the information in your statement as well. It’s common to undervalue this initial statement and forget key details or misrepresent details in the heat of the situation.
It’s understandable, considering the reasons that drive a person to get a restraining order are difficult and emotionally charged. It might be wise to work with someone to craft your statement.
Your abuser and their lawyers may be able to pick apart a weak statement, and you might not get the result that you’re looking for. It’s not necessary to include every single detail, but it’s important to suggest that there are more details if you can’t include everything.
For example, you may say that the abuser “caused a broken arm, among other injuries.” Include the most pertinent details and reference smaller ones that you don’t have space for.
That way, the relevant information is included and can be deliberated over in court. The process is very important, though, so it might be wise to construct this statement with the help of a professional.
Violations and How to Handle Them
If the abuser doesn’t want to abide by the rules of the restraining order, it’s important for you to know how to handle particular instances. Considering that there are a lot of nuances in different restraining order cases, there are a lot of ways for people to disobey those orders.
Across the board, though, it’s important for you to document these instances somehow. Whether you take a video with your phone or keep some record of your interaction with the abuser, make a mental note to find a way to prove that the violation occurred.
You can also call the police as the situation happens or shortly after. The sooner the better. Police tend to lean on the side of the victim in these instances, especially when there’s an active restraining order in place.
The times when a violation is physical and needs to be addressed immediately are the ones where you should call the police. Anything having to do with physical proximity or matters dealing with your children can be addressed in that way.
Issues like failure to go to treatment or a lack of payment should be handled in court. You can file a motion for contempt and the court will examine the evidence and act accordingly.
If you think that the person you’re filing against will try and break the restraining order, it’s wise to get a plan in place for when it happens. That way, you can act swiftly and have the court do the rest.
Need Some Help with Your Case?
The process above might seem stressful, but know that there are options out there for you to get help. The better the team working behind you, the better your chances are of getting yourself to safety and a more comfortable life.
We’re here to help. Contact us to learn about ways that we can help you move forward with an effective case.