It's never acceptable for someone to harass or abuse another human being.
If you're regularly facing verbal or physical abuse from someone in your household, someone you've dated, someone you have a child with or certain relatives, a domestic violence protective order (DVPO) can help you put an end to it. DVPOs are commonly referred to as restraining orders.
The court has fairly broad powers to issue orders that will protect you from your abuser. Some of the most typical things that you may see ordered as part of a DVPO include:
- Your abuser may be ordered out of the home you share
- You can be given temporary custody of any children you share in common
- You may be given temporary possession of the family car
- Your abuser will generally be required to refrain from contacting you in any way, including through third parties
- Your abuser will usually be required to stay away from your workplace
- Your abuser will be required to stop harassing you or threatening you
- Your abuser may be required to turn over any weapons in his or her possession
- The court may require your abuser to attend counseling or anger management classes
Once a temporary order is in place, a court date will be scheduled so that the court can hear your petition for a more permanent order. If approved, the DVPO will stay in place for a year and can be renewed as needed.
It's important to understand that a request for a restraining order is not the same as seeking to prosecute the other person. Instead, you are merely requesting the court's official protection and the enforcement of some boundaries. If the other person violates those boundaries later, that may indeed be a crime -- but that will be a consequence of that person's own making, not something you have caused.
The hearing for a domestic violence protective order is often emotionally challenging for victims. A family law attorney can help you through the process and handle most of the work for you to make it easier.