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What Should I Do when Someone Has Injured Me or Has Violated a Restraining Order?

Go to a safe place. Go to the home of a neighbor, relative or friend you trust; call a domestic violence hotline or shelter.

Call the police at 911 (emergency) or at the local number listed in the phone book (non-emergency). Tell them you are in danger and you need help immediately. If the police do not come soon, call again and tell them that it is your second call. Write down the time and date of your call(s).

When the police arrive, get their names and badge numbers. Tell them about your injuries, how you were injured, whether the abuser used weapons, and whether the abuser violated a restraining order. If a restraining order was violated, show the police the order and the proof of service. If you do not have a copy of the order, ask the officers to look it up in their computer system. Ask the police to take pictures of any visible injuries. Insist that they file an incident report and give you a report number. If they refuse to take an incident report, go to your local police department and file one yourself that day or the next business day.

Ask the police to arrest the abuser. The police do not have to actually witness abuse in order to arrest the abuser as long as they can see physical signs of the abuse. If you have a restraining order, there must be some evidence that the abuser violated that order, but there does not have to be physical evidence of abuse. If the abuser is there and the police refuse to make an arrest, tell them you want to make a citizen's arrest. If you do make a citizen's arrest, go to your local police station to sign a statement on the next business day. Even if the police make an arrest and take the abuser into custody, be aware that the abuser could be released within a few hours. Use that time to get to a safe place and ask that a condition of that release be that the abuser not come near you.

Ask the police for an Emergency Protective Order (EPO) if you do not already have a restraining order. An EPO is a restraining order that lasts five to seven days – enough time for you to go to court to apply for a longer restraining order. An EPO may also grant you temporary custody of any children you have with the abuser.

On the next business day, call the detective or investigative bureau of your local police department. Give them your incident report number and get the name and phone number of the detective or investigator who has been assigned to your case. Call that person to schedule an appointment to review the case.

Ask for additional assistance. The police can help you get medical treatment if you need it, give you information about shelters and other support services, and temporarily take firearms away from the abuser.

If you feel the police officers did not give you adequate assistance, get their names and/or badge numbers and call your police department’s watch commander.

Call Break the Cycle as soon as possible if there has been a violation of your restraining order or to make an appointment to get a restraining order.

The information above describes the law in California. Most states offer similar protections, but it is important that you check the law in your state to see what legal remedies and process are available to you.

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