Know Your Rights

Every young person has the right to a safe and healthy relationship. Unfortunately, not every state defines "dating violence" in the same way or provide the same protections for minors vs. adults.

So What Are My Rights?

It really depends on your state! Visit our State Law Report Cards to find out what laws apply to you.

Do Parents Have to Know?

Each state has its own rules for minors (aka everyone under the age of 18). Some states allow minors to file for assistance without parental involvement. Others require parents to be involved right away. And in other states, the laws are vague, leaving it open to individual judges. In any case, a judge may decide to contact your parents if they think it's in your best interest.

If you're experiencing abuse, chat with a loveisrespect peer advocate to find a legal service provider near you.

What Can a Legal Service Provider Do?

A legal service provider or advocate is a trained legal professional who can discuss your options, help create a safety plan and help you connect with the civil or criminal justice system. In many cases, a legal advocate can help you obtain a protection order against an abuser. They can also help ensure the order is upheld at your home, school or place of work. 

What is a Protection Order?

A protection order is only part of a survivor's support system but it can be a very powerful tool to help a young person leave an abusive relationship. A civil protection order is a judicial decree restricting a person’s (the abuser) movements and activities toward another person (the victim of abuse).

These orders also prohibit an individual from stalking, harassing or communicating (in any form) to the other individual. If violated, the restricted person can face criminal penalties, including jail time.

A word about names: depending on where you live, these orders can be called a restraining, protection, peace, stay away or protection from abuse order. A protection order is given by a judge in civil or family court, whereas a stay away order is given by a judge in criminal court. Both of the orders have the same restrictions on the restrained person.

But the Abuser's a Minor!

Just as every state has its own law about how minors can file for a protection order, every state has its own law about protection orders against minors. In some states, the family court can issue a protection order against a minor and in others it must be the juvenile court. In a few other states, the law does not allow protection orders against minors at all. Again, check out our State Law Report Cards for local details.

Mandated Reporting

In each state, there are laws that require certain individuals to report any suspected child abuse to government authorities. However, every state's law is different. In some states dating violence is treated the same as child abuse and in other states it's not. Contact a Break the Cycle trainer if you have questions about the law in your state.

Are You Getting a Theme Here? 

The law is complicated! And it all depends on where you live! But don't give up -- we're here to help.