You've been battered or threatened with abuse. What can you do? First, call the police. Second, if necessary, get medical attention.
You can also protect yourself from future violent acts by obtaining an Order of Protection, which if granted, restricts the abuser from:
- • Committing any act of violence against you, your children, or others living with you
- • Living in your home
- • Contacting you or visiting your home, workplace, or other specified place
- • Taking your children (You can ask for temporary custody of the children you and the abuser have together)
- • Refusing to go to counseling
You can include a request for referral to the Batterer’s Intervention Program or mandatory counseling in your injunction.
An Order of Protection can be granted even if you have never called the police or pressed charges against your abuser. You only have to prove that you have reason to fear your partner and that fear is based on some serious threat or past violence. Keep your Order with you at all times! If your abuser violates the Order, he/she can be arrested.
Additionally, this is an especially dangerous time because you have taken an action that lessens the abuser’s sense of control. On the next page are some frequently asked questions about Orders of Protection.
What is an Order of Protection?
An Order of Protection is a civil legal document given by the court which help protect you from physical violence, threats, destruction of property, being held hostage, being put in fear of bodily harm, or stalking. It can last for one year.
What can an Order of Protection do?
It orders your batterer not to bother you, not to make contact with you either directly or indirectly; it can make your batterer move or pay for another place for you and your children to live; give you temporary custody of your children; give you support money for yourself and/or the minor children you have together, and order your batterer into counseling.
What is an Ex Parte Order?
An Ex Parte Order is a temporary order that is given to you when you file for your Order of Protection. This order is good for approximately two weeks and is intended to give you immediate protection. This order is intended to protect you during the time period when your batterer is first served with the Ex Parte Order and his notice for appearing in court for the final Order of Protection. You should keep a certified copy of this order with you at all times.
It is very important that you provide the best information possible as to where you batterer is so he/she can be served quickly. An Order of Protection cannot be made permanent for one year without the Ex Parte Order being served on the batterer. During this time, call the police immediately if your batterer attempts to contact you, make a police report, and contact SafeSpace staff about what to do.
Does my batterer have to be served in person?
Your batterer must be served in person and has the right to be present at the hearing to agree or disagree with the allegations stated in the Petition for your Order of Protection. It is important to have a good home or work address on your batterer so that he/she can be served in person.
What if my batter is not served with the Ex Parte Order?
If your batterer has not been served by the process server, you can ask a police officer to serve one of your certified copies of the Order on your batterer. Be sure that the officer understands a notice must go back to the court stating when, where, and who served the Order. If this notice doesn’t appear in your court file, you may not be able to go forward with your permanent Order of Protection. Be sure you know the officer’s name, badge number, when and where the Order was served and let the court know.
How do I get an Order of Protection?
You must go the General Sessions Court Clerk’s office or the Circuit Court Clerk’s office in the county where the abuse occurred or the county where your abuser lives or the county in which you live if your abuser lives in another state and ask for a petition for an Order of Protection. The clerk's office is mandated by law to assist you in filling out the petition. A magistrate or a judge will then have to sign the Ex Parte Order which must then go back to be filed with the clerk’s office. The clerk’s office will give you two certified copies of the order. A certified copy must be taken to the Sheriff’s Department so that your batterer can be served.
A copy should be filed with the Sheriff’s Department in the county in which you live and one filed in the county in which your batterer lives. A SafeSpace advocate can assist you through this process if you cannot or do not want to attempt to get this Order on your own.
Will I Have to go to court?
Yes! When you file for your Order of Protection you will receive a court date for approximately two weeks away. You must attend your court date to obtain your Order. Have witnesses or other proof of abuse with you at court If the judge feels you have not proved your case, he can dismiss your Order and you will have to pay all court costs. If your Order is granted then you will have no court costs. You should have an advocate and/or an attorney with you at court. Contact SafeSpace to see about having an advocate and/or attorney present with you.
What do I do if my batterer violates the Order?
Call the police and tell them about the Order of Protection and try to have a copy ready to show them. Make a report. The police can arrest your batterer without a warrant if they find probable cause that the Order has been violated. You also have a right to file a violation in the court that granted your Order. A violation tells the judge that the Order has been violated. You will be given a court date in which you will need to bring proof that the Order was broken. If the judge decides the Order of Protection was violated, your batterer can get up to ten days in jail for each violation.