Should I get a domestic violence restraining order?
While a restraining order can be an effective and powerful legal tool to help you keep yourself safe, it is not your only choice. There are limitations to what a restraining order can do, and there are many reasons why you may or may not want a restraining order. A restraining order is not right for all people and it cannot guarantee your safety.
Making the decision whether or not to apply for a restraining order can be very difficult, but it must be your decision. The following lists may help you decide whether a restraining order is the right choice for you.
Reasons to get a restraining order:
- It may make you feel more confident because you are taking control of the situation.
- If you have a restraining order, you do not have to wait for the abuser to hurt you before calling the police; you can call the police as soon as the abuser contacts you or comes near you.
- It can encourage school officials and other authorities to help protect you from the abuser.
- Police tend to give priority to calls where the victim has a restraining order.
- To establish an official record of the abuse.
- To make the abuser move out of a home that you two share.
- To establish a safer custody and visitation arrangement for your kids.
- To allow you to enjoy school, work and other activities with less threat of harm.
Reasons not to get a restraining order:
- If you will be uncomfortable calling the police if the abuser violates the restraining order.
- If you don’t want friends or family to know about the abuse.
- If you think it will make the abuser more violent and will put you in greater danger.
- If you are afraid of peer or gang retaliation.
- If you or your family is moving far away, you may feel safe without it.
Remember, a restraining order cannot:
- Guarantee your personal safety.
- Guarantee the abuser won’t still be able to intimidate or scare you.
- Guarantee the safety and welfare of your children.
- Guarantee the abuser will be out of your life.
- Guarantee the abuser won’t destroy property that may be irreplaceable, like photos, important papers and things with sentimental value.
- “Cure” the abuser.
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