Millions of domestic abuse cases occur each year. The exact number of such cases is difficult to keep track of since agencies report them differently, while other incidents of abuse are never reported at all. In the past, victims of domestic abuse were unable to protect themselves legally because police rarely got involved in such disputes. As such, families were left to settle and work things out thus allowing abusers to escape with their acts of violence without any consequences from the law. Fortunately, domestic disputes are now dealt with differently as all states have laws making domestic violence a crime, while various legal protections are imposed to help victims of abuse.

What Is Domestic Violence / Abuse?

When domestic violence is involved, acts of physical abuse are used, including threats, harassment and emotional abuse which can dominate another person. ; Domestic violence or domestic abuse can be found in all types of relationships and it is not based on race or economic class. Although women are often victims of domestic abuse, men can also become victims. Unlike in the past, police these days in many states, now have the power to arrest people suspected of abusing others regardless of the willingness of a victim to file charges because of fear. As such, victims and potential victims are protected from abuse after police leave. If victims want to file charges against the abuser, they can do so in civil court, allowing them to recover money damages for financial harm resulting from physical and emotional abuse.

Restraining Order For Protection

Restraining orders are legal options available in every state for victims against the abuser as they can make it illegal for abusers to contact victims. If a victim is in immediate danger, a temporary emergency restraining order can be secured from the local police department. However, a temporary restraining order will not be valid for long, so it is essential to secure a proper restraining order from the court that can last for three months to three years.

How To Secure A Restraining Order

In order for a victim to secure a restraining order that can last longer, a petition must be filed in court. Victims can handle the process on their own without a lawyer, but having a legal professional assist in the process and explain their rights is to their advantage. When a petition has been filed, the hearing will then be scheduled within two weeks. ; The abuser will also be notified and invited to attend the hearing as he will have the right to testify in court as well.

The victim will then have to explain to the judge, the necessity for a restraining order. At the hearing various evidence or documents, such as medical records, photographs, police reports and witness testimony can be presented to support the need for a restraining order.

Once a restraining order has been issued, the local police department must be informed about the abuser and the limitations imposed. All this information is recorded into the police computers for reference.

Other Forms Of Help

Domestic violence must never be tolerated in any way. It is necessary that victims must try to escape or leave their abusive relationship as soon as possible. There are various free legal agencies and shelters to help victims of abuse in every state. If a victim will decide to leave their relationship, they must be sure to have copies of their important documents as well as other items such as spare money and keys.

Valerie Clearwater is a freelance writer specializing in criminal law. She regularly contributes articles to legal websites such as where well experienced criminal attorneys can be consulted.