One of the first steps is to file an attempt to protect yourself from your abuser by placing court-enforced limitations on their interactions with you, which are punishable by law if your abuser violates them.
In order to get a restraining order, sometimes known as a full order of protection, the victim must attend a hearing in front of a judge and thus must be scheduled by the court. This may take up to two weeks from the time an ex parte protection order is filed, which does not require a hearing and can be filed at a circuit court and takes effect immediately. This is the first step, and it’s critical to make sure you attend the hearing, as the ex parte order does expire, and the hearing is needed to establish a more long-term solution.
At the hearing, we will help present the evidence for the case and argue why a restraining order is needed for your protection. Materials for your case include any photographs taken by yourself or a medical professional, any witnesses who can speak about the abuse, documentation of past police reports and/or 911 calls involving you and your abuser, and if there was a previous protective order in the past. In addition, we will help determine the conditions of the restraining order, such as financial assistance and custody or visitation with children (if applicable).
It is likely that you as the victim will need to make a statement to the judge, so be sure to practice what you want to say. It’s okay to have notes or to simply read a prepared statement if that makes you more comfortable. If the opposing counsel has questions, you will need to answer them, as well. It’s important to note that it is likely your abuser will be present at this hearing, which we can help prepare you for and make arrangements for your safety.
The judge will make the decision on whether the restraining order is warranted and any special circumstances going forward. If your order is granted, the court clerk will provide you with a certified copy of the order and assist you in getting copies sent to relevant employers, schools, and other parties who need to be aware of the situation.
If you feel like you need an ex parte protection order and a subsequent restraining order, please contact us in a safe manner, be it from a public computer or a friend’s phone, if you are worried about your abuser being able to access your searches or call history.