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.