Domestic violence is defined as threatened or actual abuse from someone in your family or in your home or with whom you have a close relationship.
Emergency Protective Orders. If you need help right now, you should call a local law enforcement agency (“911”). A police officer responding to a domestic violence incident can call a judge (anytime, day or night) and ask for an emergency protective order that goes into effect immediately. An emergency protective order lasts for up to seven days. The emergency protective order can make the abusive person leave the home and keep that person away from you and your children, for up to seven days.
Since you need a police officer’s assistance to get an emergency protective order, it is important to describe to him or her the abuser’s actions and why you are afraid.
Restraining orders. Besides an emergency protective order, a victim of domestic abuse can also pursue a restraining order through the courts. A restraining order is a court order. It can require the person you want restrained to stop threatening you or hurting you and your children or the people who live with you. Restraining orders can also tell someone to stop calling, move out, stay away from where you live or work, give up a gun, limit the time he or she spends with your children, pay certain bills, pay child support, release or return certain property, or pay some or all of your attorney fees. These orders can last for as little as a week or as long as three years. They can also be permanent. If you get a restraining order, you can ask a police officer, sheriff’s deputy, or other law enforcement officer to make the other person do what the order says.
A restraining order can:
- Order the batterer to stay a specified distance away from you.
- Order the batterer to stay away from your home, work, school, family’s home, children’s school, child care center, or baby sitter’s home.
- Order the batterer to move out of your home, even if the batterer’s name is on the lease or he or she is co-owner.
- Give you custody of your children and make visitation orders.
- Order the batterer to pay child support.
- Order the batterer not to call or write you or do so through another person.
- Divide up some of your property.
- Order the batterer to reimburse you for lost earnings and/or actual expenses directly caused by violence.
If you are married, you do NOT have to get a divorce to obtain a restraining order. In order to get a restraining order you must meet two conditions:
- You and the other party must be one of the following: married, formerly married, related by blood/marriage/adoption, currently living together as “cohabitants”, have formerly lived together, currently have or have had a dating relationship, or are parents in common of minor children.
- The other party must have caused or attempted bodily injury or sexual assault or placed you in reasonable fear of physical or emotional harm.
Children in homes where domestic violence occurs are at risk of physical and emotional abuse. Police officers who respond to a domestic violence incident must assess your children’s safety.