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Get a restraining order
If you decide you want to get a restraining order, you will generally use the civil courts. Under civil law, someone who has been harmed sues the person who they think caused the harm. The person who has been harmed is called the plaintiff and the person who caused the harm is called the defendant. In domestic violence cases, the victim is the plaintiff and the abuser is the defendant. Sometimes, in domestic violence cases, the plaintiff is called the petitioner and the defendant is called the respondent.
One example of a typical civil law suit might be after a car accident. In those cases, the plaintiff is the person whose car was damaged and the defendant is the person the plaintiff believes caused damage or is at fault for the accident. The plaintiff usually sues the defendant for money - to repair or replace the car, to cover medical bills, and to pay for any other expenses resulting from the accident.
Domestic violence cases work basically the same way: the victim/plaintiff sues the abuser/defendant. However, instead of only seeking money, the victim usually asks the court to issue a restraining order against the abuser. The main goal of the restraining order is to protect the victim from further abuse from the abuser.
*** In some states, domestic violence restraining orders are called by a different name. They may be called "emergency orders," "protective orders," "civil protection orders," "orders of protection," "injunctions," or something else.
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