Domestic Violence: Getting a Protective Order
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A violent relationship puts you and your children at risk for injury and even death. Getting a protection order (also called a restraining order) is a step you can take to help keep you and your children safe.
To get a protection order:
- Call your local advocacy group or your local district or state attorney's office, or tell the police you want to get one. You may be able to get an emergency protection order immediately. For a temporary protection order, you will probably have to see a family court judge.
- Tell the judge about times you have been threatened with violence or have suffered abuse. List any witnesses, including police officers, who may help your case.
- Show the judge any evidence of physical abuse, such as photos of bruises, injuries, or damaged property.
- Tell the judge about any prior arrests the abuser has had, or obtain the arrest reports. You may be able to get these from the police department or sheriff's office in the community where past abuse occurred.
To be eligible for a protection order, you and the other party must fit into at least one of the following categories:
- Married, or formerly married
- Related by blood, marriage, or adoption
- Currently living together or must have formerly lived together
- Currently or formerly in a dating relationship
- The parents in common of minor children
For a protection order to work effectively, you must:
- Inform the court of your specific safety needs, including when you are at work, those of your children, and any other particular circumstances.
- Request custody and visitation restrictions or "no contact" orders to ensure your children's safety.
- Call the police every time the order is violated.
If you travel to another state, check to see whether your protection order is valid in that state. Protection orders are valid across some state lines. Protection orders remain in effect until they are removed by the court, even if the victim consents to contact with the abuser.
Your local domestic violence program or a qualified attorney can help you get a protection order. To find the nearest program offering legal support, see the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence's website at https://ncadv.org/resources. The National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE (1-800-799-7233) can also provide you with contacts.
Current as of: February 9, 2022
Author: Healthwise Staff
Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine
Kathleen Romito MD - Family Medicine
Brigid McCaw MD, MS, MPH, FACP - Family Violence Prevention