When leaving an abusive situation a protection order or restraining order puts an additional safety measure and boundary in place. To get a protection order, follow these steps:
- Go to your local courthouse (to the clerk’s office) or their website and get a Petition for Family Violence Protective Order and fill it out.
- Include all pertinent details, names of any witnesses, and evidence such as photos, text messages, etc.
- Hand deliver the petition to the courthouse, where you will get a meeting scheduled with the judge, or the judge may be available to meet with you right away.
- Once the judge issues and signs the petition, the order will be drawn up and printed, and police will serve the order.
- Once the order is in place, do not contact the abuser in any way – not even through a third-party contact.
It is likely the abuser will be ordered to vacate the marital home. Once the abuser has left the home, get your locks changed and change the PIN, password, login info, etc. for your security system, if applicable.
If the abuser makes contact in any way, even via a third-party person, contact the police and advise them he has broken the protective order.
It is important to remember that even if you have a protection order, it does not guarantee your safety, so continue to take precautions and follow your safety plan.
Laws do vary from state to state, and it is important to understand how your jurisdiction operates. There is a handy drop-down menu at womenslaw.org that lists each state and its relevant laws.
It is always a good idea to be well-prepared for the court process, including having documents (journals, physician reports, police reports, pictures, etc.) about the abuse. You can find many of the needed court forms here, which will help you understand what information to begin assembling. You should also have your photo ID, as well as a description and the license plate number of the abuser’s car, and information about his or her history of drugs and gun ownership. When it comes time to provide your own information, give a safe mailing address and phone number, preferably one that your abuser does not know. If you’re staying at a shelter, ask if they have a P.O. Box that you can use. (DomesticShelters.org)