A domestic violence restraining order is a court order telling a family member, close relative (by blood or marriage), lover, or ex to stop abusing you or else face punishment by the law.
You can file for a domestic violence restraining order if your family member/relative/lover does at least one of these in the past 30 days:
- Physically attacks you (or attempts to attack you);
- Rapes or molests you;
- Threatens to hurt you or someone else physically;
- Harasses or stalks you by phone, mail, notes, etc;
- Destroys your property;
- Verbally abuses you;
- Disturbs your peace
Other Restraining Orders
A domestic violence restraining order only applies to someone you have (or have had) a close personal relationship with. For cousins, uncles, aunts, neighbors or just roommates, you can get a civil harassment restraining order.
If you are over 65 (or a dependent adult younger than 65) and you are being abused (including financially) by anyone or neglected by your caregiver, you can get an elder or dependent adult abuse restraining order. If you know an elder/dependent adult being abused this way, and the victim cannot file a restraining order by himself/herself, please help him/her get one.
If a co-worker is abusing you, you can ask your employer to file a workplace violence restraining order.
The court will require you to note how you were abused and when it happened. Copies of police reports and medical records (or photographs of your injuries) attached to your statement are also very helpful.
Aside from telling your abuser to stop the abuse, domestic violence restraining orders can also tell your abuser to:
- Stay at least 100 yards from you;
- Move away from the house where you both live (if you or both of you own it). The court can also grant you legal control of the property);
- Stop contacting you;
- Pay for the costs of your injuries (medical bills or lost income);
- Pay for child support or abide by a visiting schedule set by you and the court;
- Attend a batterer’s treatment program or have him/her dispossesed of firearms
Take note, however, that a restraining order is only effective if your abuser fears the law. If your abuser does not fear hurting himself or others, he/she can still abuse you – or worse, kill you – at home, on the streets, or at work. You should therefore take precautions.
If your abuser has a history of violating previous restraining orders (involving you or other people), he/she probably won’t respect your restraining order. You should:
- Make it hard for your abuser to get to you. Change your contact numbers and email addresses. Move to a place your abuser cannot track down. If you stay in a place your abuser knows or has access to, even if you change the locks, your abuser can still wait for you to come in or go out;
- Prepare for emergencies. Always carry extra money, house and car keys, and copies of the restraining order. Know who to call and where to stay in case the unthinkable happens;
- Have neighbors, friends, or co-workers know of the restraining order and have them familiarize with the abuser’s face and physical description;
- Plan with a relative or friend to check up on you. You can even have your friend speak a passcode first when calling you on the phone, or include an identifying code when emailing you, or do a pattern of knocks on the door;
- Document and report all the instances your abuser violated the restraining order – record all phone calls, save all letters, notes and messages; and
- Never ignore any threats and warnings from your abuser.
If you or someone you know is in need of professional representation in a divorce, custody or any other family law situation, don’t hesitate and call the attorneys at the Law Offices of Bowman and Associates at 916-923-2800.