Our Health Library information does not replace the advice of a doctor. Please be advised that this information is made available to assist our patients to learn more about their health. Our providers may not see and/or treat all topics found herein.
Domestic Violence: Getting a Protective Order
If you want to save this information but don't think it is safe to take it home, see if a trusted friend can keep it for you. Plan ahead. Know who you can call for help, and memorize the phone number. Be careful online too. Your online activity may be seen by others. Do not use your personal computer or device to read about this topic. Use a safe computer such as one at work, a friend's house, or a library.
A violent relationship puts you and your children at risk for injury and even death. Getting a protection order (also called a restraining order) is a step you can take to help keep you and your children safe.
To get a protection order:
- Call your local advocacy group or your local district or state attorney's office, or tell the police you want to get one. You may be able to get an emergency protection order immediately. For a temporary protection order, you will probably have to see a family court judge.
- Tell the judge about times you have been threatened with violence or have suffered abuse. List any witnesses, including police officers, who may help your case.
- Show the judge any evidence of physical abuse, such as photos of bruises, injuries, or damaged property.
- Tell the judge about any prior arrests the abuser has had, or obtain the arrest reports. You may be able to get these from the police department or sheriff's office in the community where past abuse occurred.
To be eligible for a protection order, you and the other party must fit into at least one of the following categories:
- Married, or formerly married
- Related by blood, marriage, or adoption
- Currently living together or must have formerly lived together
- Currently or formerly in a dating relationship
- The parents in common of minor children
For a protection order to work effectively, you must:
- Inform the court of your specific safety needs, including when you are at work, those of your children, and any other particular circumstances.
- Request custody and visitation restrictions or "no contact" orders to ensure your children's safety.
- Call the police every time the order is violated.
If you travel to another state, check to see whether your protection order is valid in that state. Protection orders are valid across some state lines. Protection orders remain in effect until they are removed by the court, even if the victim consents to contact with the abuser.
Your local domestic violence program or a qualified attorney can help you get a protection order. To find the nearest program offering legal support, see the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence's website at https://ncadv.org/resources. The National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE (1-800-799-7233) can also provide you with contacts.
Current as of: June 16, 2021
Author: Healthwise Staff
Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine
Kathleen Romito MD - Family Medicine
Brigid McCaw MD, MS, MPH, FACP - Family Violence Prevention
To learn more about Healthwise, visit Healthwise.org.
© 1995-2021 Healthwise, Incorporated. Healthwise, Healthwise for every health decision, and the Healthwise logo are trademarks of Healthwise, Incorporated.