Recently, news outlets have posted stories on the domestic violence dispute between Jack White and his ex-wife, Karen Elson. After the couple filed for divorce last year, Elson obtained a temporary restraining order against White in fear for her safety and alleging that he was an unfit parent. It is important for survivors of abuse to know there are helpful resources out there to protect them from further abuse.
What is domestic violence exactly? It is defined as “abuse or threats of abuse when the person who is abused and the abuser are or have been in an intimate relationship.” An intimate relationship may include couples that are married or domestic partners, are dating or used to date, live or lived together, or have a child together. It also expands to those who are closely related by blood or marriage.
Domestic violence comes in many forms and is not always physical. It can be in the form of kicking, shoving, scaring, stalking, or being kept from freely going somewhere. Abuse can also be verbal, emotional or psychological.
If you believe you have been abused or feel scared for your own or your children’s safety, you have many options. You may want to consult with a domestic violence counselor or seek the advice of an attorney. You should contact an attorney who specializes in the key factors of your situation (i.e. immigration, custody issues, criminal charges, etc.). There are a variety of options you may use to obtain legal protection if you have been or believe you are under the threat of abuse.
Obtaining a restraining order is a common route used by survivors of abuse. However, there many types of restraining orders. Which one do you choose? If you are in an emergency situation, you may want to file a restraining order with a law enforcement agency, which may be obtained within twenty four (24) hours. However, an emergency restraining order (EPO) can only last up to seven (7) days. A temporary restraining order (TRO) can go up to about 20-25 days until the court hearing. TROs may be obtained by filling out paperwork detailing everything that has happened and why a restraining order is necessary. There are also “permanent” restraining orders and criminal protective orders.
Another option is that you may want to get a civil harassment restraining order depending on your circumstances. This is different from a domestic violence restraining order. A domestic violence restraining order protects from abuse or threats of abuse from someone you have a close relationship with. A civil harassment restraining order broadens the “close relationship” aspect so you can be protected from someone you have a close relationship with or from more distant relatives, neighbors, coworkers, etc.
A person suffering from domestic violence is wise to seek legal help in dealing with their situation. No one wants to be victimized by the legal system as well as by their abuser.