Domestic violence is all too prevalent in our society. According to the National Domestic Violence Hotline, more than 12 million men and women are victims of rape, physical violence, and stalking by an intimate partner on an annual basis. But this statistic only tells part of the story:
- Nearly 3 in 10 women and 1 in 10 men are victims at some point during their life
- Of the cases of domestic assault that enter the court system, 22 % were witnessed by a child
- Almost 30% of college women report having been in an abusive dating relationship
- Over half of all college women report knowing a friend who has been in a violent dating relationship
When living with – or leaving – a domestic abuser, experts recommend creating a safety plan. Safety plans are drafted by a professional and outline how to deal with the abuser in a variety of different circumstances.
A restraining order, also called an injunction against domestic violence, is an order signed by a judge that limits a person’s conduct, as well as the places they are allowed to be. To get a restraining order, a person, called the petitioner, must ask the court to restrain another person from violent acts and behavior.
Restraining orders often prohibit:
- Acts of violence
- Contact, both direct and indirect through friends, relatives, text messaging, or social media
- The respondent (the subject of the order) from residing at or being at the address of the petitioner, as well as their school or work
If there are minor children involved, a restraining order may also address custody of the children.
When a Restraining Order Is Issued
When a restraining order is issued by the court and served to the respondent, it becomes a legal court order, and is binding on the respondent. Violating it could result in arrest and criminal charges. For couples that share a home, law enforcement will typically accompany the respondent to the home to remove their belongings since they will no longer be allowed to live there.
If You Are in a Relationship That Is Violent or May Become Violent
If you are in a relationship that is violent or fear may become violent, the first thing you need to do is speak to an attorney about getting a restraining order that will protect you and your loved ones. If you have children with your abuser, your family law attorney can also help you work through the nuances of child custody, visitation rights and parenting. Since many victims are legally married to their abusers, obtaining a knowledgeable and competent attorney, who has experience helping victims through these circumstances and other family issues that may arise as a result, is vital.