How to Stop Domestic Violence
Here are answers to common questions to help you stop domestic violence.
I've decided to leave my abuser, but what can I do to stop him from coming after me?
The legal system uses a device known as a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) to help stop domestic violence. A TRO is a court order that requires the abuser to cease the abuse. Typical terms of a TRO include requirements that the abuser stay away from the victim, where the victim works or studies, the victim's children's school, or other places where the victim typically spends time (such as a church or social organization). Obviously, the TRO also forbids the abuser from engaging in any further violent acts.
TROs are often relatively easy to obtain. In many states, court clerks will help you fill out the necessary forms. After you complete the forms, you'll present evidence of the abuse to a judge, typically hospital records and/or police reports. Many jurisdictions make judges available to issue TROs after normal business hours since domestic violence regularly occurs outside of the court's normal sessions.
I can't get a TRO at night where I live -- what can I do to protect myself?
If you call the police, they can probably help stop domestic violence from reoccuring. In many areas, police officers have the authority to issue an emergency protective order if a judge isn't available to issue a TRO. The emergency protective order has the same legal effect as a TRO, but it will typically only cover a short period of time -- usually just enough to offer you some protection until the courts reopen.
Do I have to do anything else once I have a TRO?
Yes, you should register your TRO with the police in any areas covered by the TRO. For example, if the TRO forbids your abuser from coming around your home and work, you should register the TRO with the police in both those areas.
What if the TRO doesn't stop the abuse?
Many times a TRO will deter abusers, but sometimes a TRO won't be enough to stop domestic violence in the long run.
If more violence occurs, call the police immediately. It is easier for the police to intervene when you have a TRO since it is often plainly apparent when an abuser has violated the terms of a TRO. Keep in mind that you don't have to have a TRO to call the police, though. Domestic violence is a crime in and of itself, and police will investigate regardless of whether there is a TRO or not.
The police should send officers to arrest your abuser. At that point, the case will go to the prosecutor for a determination of whether or not to prosecute. If there is enough evidence to build a case, the matter will go into the criminal courts.
How can I help my chances of obtaining a TRO?
Many abuse victims attempt to stop domestic violence from reocurring by going into court on their own to obtain a TRO. Many don't realize that, despite the very personal nature of the incidents in question, the TRO process is based on legal arguments and standards. Because of this, it is helpful to consider the following tips for arguing your case:
- Collect evidence: gather police reports, photographs, witnesses and other evidence that will corroborate your claims.
- Dress well: a professional appearance.
- Stay calm: letting your emotions get the better of you won't help you argue your case, so try to relax and stay collected. Don't celebrate or get angry when the judge announces his rulings.
- Don't interrupt: the quickest way to antagonize judges is to interrupt them when they are speaking. Interrupting the other side also comes across as rude and will make you look bad.