How do I get a Domestic Violence Restraining Order?

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  • Written By: Lainie Petersen
  • Edited By: Melissa Wiley
  • Last Modified Date: 02 March 2020
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If you are in an abusive relationship, a domestic violence retraining order can be one way of getting away from your abuser. The procedure for getting a restraining order varies according to where you live, though it often involves asking a judge to issue the domestic violence restraining order. In the United States, you can typically get a restraining order by filing for one at your county courthouse. If you find the process intimidating or confusing, contact a domestic violence agency or your local law enforcement for guidance.

A restraining order, also known as an order of protection or peace bond, is a legal injunction that restricts your abuser's interactions with you. Depending on the nature and scope of the domestic violence restraining order, your abuser may be forbidden from contacting you, your children, or even your pets. Your abuser may also be forced to leave your home if you live together. Abusers who violate restraining orders can be arrested and sent to jail.


If you need a domestic violence restraining order but don't understand how to begin the process, a domestic violence shelter or hotline should be able to help you. Alternatively, you can call or visit a police station and ask if they have a legal advocate or someone who can explain the process to you. Many courthouse websites include information on how to obtain a restraining order, and a courthouse clerk can usually give you the forms to fill out, though he or she cannot give you legal advice. In some places in the United States, such as California, if you are attacked by your abuser and call the police, the officer who responds to your call can help you get an emergency protection order (EPO) right away.

The forms for requesting a domestic violence restraining order vary according to jurisdiction, but the form will typically ask you to describe the abuse and what kinds of protection you want from the abuser. When you file the form with the clerk, you may be asked to show a photo ID so that the form can be notarized. A judge may be able to grant the restraining order right away, or you may have to wait a day or two. You will likely be given a hearing date at which you will be expected to produce evidence that the domestic violence restraining order should continue. Be sure that you are able to show up for the hearing.

After the restraining order is granted, it must be served to your abuser. The method of service depends on where you live. It may be sent via registered mail, a sheriff's deputy may be sent to serve it, or you may be responsible for getting it served. Domestic violence advocates generally advise against physically handing the restraining order to your abuser, so for your own safety you should hire a process server or get someone else to serve it for you. Again, a domestic violence shelter or advocacy group can help you to complete service of the restraining order so you can continue to separate yourself from your abuser.


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Post 2

@Scrbblchick -- We had that happen about an ex coming to the workplace! It was scary!

He came to my desk (I sit in the front of the office) and wanted to know where she was. I told him he needed to wait in the lobby, but he started yelling and having a fit. He started threatening me and I told him I have an advanced belt in jujitsu (and I do -- not a very advanced one, but he didn't know that), and if he laid a finger on me, I would turn him into a grease spot. I was scared to death, but I wasn't going to let that piece of trash know it.

These people are usually big bullies

and he wasn't used to having a woman stand up to his abuse. I told him he'd better hit the road before the cops got there. Fortunately, my co-worker had already called 911 and the police came running in the front door.

Our boss filed a no-trespass order on him and he left. I went to the bathroom and threw up. My co-worker said I sounded like the wrath of God when I told him to get out, but I surely didn't feel like it! I had to have my husband come get me. I was too shaken up to drive! Thank the Lord, the creep hasn't been back.

Post 1

I think in Alabama, a deputy sheriff usually serves a domestic violence restraining order. That's safer for the victim, certainly.

It always depends on the state, and on the victim, but I would hit a women's shelter as soon as I could after the order was served, for my own protection.

A person who is serious about escaping an abusive partner should take a few steps to ensure his or her safety (men can be domestic violence victims, too!). The person should either get a new cell phone, or get a new number and a plan only in his or her name. He or she should also never give personal information to someone unless it is necessary.

A domestic violence victim (especially a woman) should also have a talk with her employer about the possibility of a no-trespass order if the ex comes to her workplace.

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