Domestic violence comes in many forms and can affect anyone, regardless of income, age, or gender.
Some forms of abuse are very obvious, such as hitting, kicking, punching, pushing, hair pulling, and other forms of physical violence. There are other types of actions that can rise to the level of domestic violence which are not quite as obvious. This can include name-calling, belittling, gaslighting, isolating someone from friends and family, invading someone’s privacy, text messages, emails, etc., and other forms of non-physical control. These types of abuse can be categorized as emotional abuse.
In either event, the first thing you should do is get safe. Make sure you are in a safe environment and away from the abuser. Statistically speaking the period after leaving an abuser is the most dangerous, so having a plan is essential. Domestic violence shelters can help in developing an escape plan as well as connecting people to temporary shelters or other beneficial resources.
Victims of abuse can request a Domestic Violence Restraining Order from the Court. In the request, you must detail the relationship between the abuser and yourself, there must be a specific closeness between the victim and their abuser to get a domestic violence restraining order. Once that has been established, you would then describe the dates of abuse, who was present and the type of abuse, there may be one instance or several instances referenced in your petition.
If you have experienced physical abuse, the proof is often obvious and visible. It can be manifested by bruises, broken bones or medical records. Non-physical (or emotional) abuse is more difficult to prove and the burden is often carried by the testimony of the victim and the specificity with which the abuse is detailed.
When the request is filed the Court will review initial evidence, and if deemed sufficient the Court will grant a Temporary Domestic Violence Restraining Order. The Court will also schedule an evidentiary hearing to take place 21 to 25 days later. The abuser must then be personally served with the request, temporary restraining order, and notice of the hearing date. At the evidentiary hearing, the Court will review the evidence and testimony presented. In the event the Court determines domestic violence has occurred, permanent orders may be granted.
Anyone can request a Restraining Order, with or out without counsel. However, it is strongly recommended you consult with an attorney who has extensive experience in these matters to help guide you through the legal process and ensure your rights are protected. The support and preparation could mean the difference between a Restraining Order being granted or denied.