Living with an abusive and violent partner can be extremely dangerous for the other partner. You will not only face emotionally traumatic situations but can also be inflicted with physical harm. It can happen to any of us, yet the problem is often overlooked or ignored. You need not live in fear of your partner, and should end the relation before the circumstances worsen.
Domestic abuse doesn't just cover spousal abuse, but can occur whenever one person in an intimate relationship tries to forcefully dominate and control his/her partner. It may escalate from verbal abuse and threats to violent abuses. It is always advisable to break free from such a relation and report the abuse to the law enforcement body.
Acknowledging the signs of being in an abusive relationship should be the first step to getting out of it. You can take legal action against your partner, and a subsequent harassment restraining order can protect you from further abuse. It is an order issued by the court which keeps the offender, or any person acting on his/her behalf, from contacting the victim in any possible manner.
Read on to know more about the things that you should keep in mind before filing a restraining order.
Eligibility to File a Restraining Order
Victims of harassment and abuse in their intimate relations can file for a restraining order. The request should be filed along with an underlying lawsuit. In cases involving domestic violence, a divorce, legal separation or annulment must be filed as the basic lawsuit to restrain the abuser. You need to present convincing arguments in the court highlighting that necessary steps need to be taken to prevent continuing or imminent harm.
You may request for the order without informing the abuser about it (i.e., in ex parte). As the plaintiff, you need to submit a sworn statement in court that you are in serious danger, and require the issuance of a temporary order immediately. The judge will then hold a hearing to know the defendant's arguments and determine whether or not the abuser needs to be issued a permanent restraining order.
Rules for Enforcement of Restraining Order
The rules for enforcement of restraining orders vary in different states. In some states, the court can order the abuser to compensate the victim for the costs resulting from the abuse. You may be entitled to be compensated for household bills, medical bills for injuries due to violence, and loss of earnings.
If you are planning to approach the court to seek justice for violation by the abuser, you should remember that restraining orders filed in civil lawsuits are not enforceable by the local police. These are heard in family law court, and hence, must be enforced through civil proceedings. To re-enforce a restraining order when your abuser has violated the order, you must inform the court. Hiring a domestic violence attorney can be the best way to deal with legal actions and ramifications.
In the case of an emergency, the police may be called upon if you feel that you are threatened by the abuser, and if he/she has violated the restraining order. But, they cannot force the abuser to obey the order or arrest him/her for violating it. They can only arrest the abuser if he/she violates a criminal statute.
Longevity of the Restraining Order
There are multiple sub-divisions under a restraining order that the court can impose on the abuser, including personal conduct orders, stay-away orders, and residence exclusion orders.
Once the restraining order is issued by the court, the offender is prohibited from making physical contact with the victim and is technically supposed to remain at a prescribed distance from him/her. At first, a Temporary Restraining Order will be issued to the abuser. A date will be mentioned in the order when both parties need to appear in court. This is primarily for the court to stay updated on whether or not the abuser is complying with the order.
While there may be differences in laws in different states, all restraining order statutes expect the abuser to permanently stop hurting or threatening the victim. In many states, a time limit is set for the duration of a final restraining order with allowance for extensions. But, the duration mentioned in the final orders can be modified if either party approaches the court and if the judge agrees.
Being physically or emotionally abused by your spouse/partner is a frightening experience, and extreme action can instigate the abuser to harm you more. It may be hard for you to take legal action against your loved one, but you need to protect yourself at all costs. Remember that you are not alone in this, and should seek help at the earliest. An experienced lawyer can help you with the procedures and may even counsel you to free yourself from feelings of embarrassment and humiliation. So, don't hesitate to walk away from an abusive relationship.