Life Behind a Protection Order: Personal Stories & Legal Insights

Life after a protection order

Boundaries are important in any relationship. They establish what a person will and will not accept from others around them. Unfortunately, not all boundaries are respected, and external legal boundaries must be established to enforce compliance and preserve safety. Protective orders are a way for those who have been threatened by others, have been victimized by domestic violence, or need help creating distance between themselves and another person to ensure their own safety. While not all parties may agree with the need for a protection order, they can help to ensure the safety of all parties involved.

What Is a Protection Order?

What is a protection order?

When an individual believes they are at risk of being harmed as a result of physical or verbal threats stemming from domestic violence, they can seek a protection order. The order will help to limit or eliminate the interactions they have with the person who is presenting the threat. An Order of Protection or an Injunction Against Harassment, the legal term for a protection order, is issued to prevent a threatening party from contacting the person who sought the order.

Under these orders, specific parameters may be put in place to protect the affected party. Some of these parameters may include removing firearms from the home, restricting access to shared children, naming others on the order, and even deciding who has the exclusive right to use the shared home. In cases where the abuser is engaging in abusive litigation, using the legal system to maintain some semblance of power or control over you, they can be forced to submit any future cases to the court for review prior to serving the protected individual.

In some cases, a protective order may be granted when a judicial authority deems there is an imminent threat to a victim. These are referred to as an Emergency Order of Protection. This type of order is granted in situations where domestic violence has occurred. It exclusively orders a person to refrain from committing acts of domestic violence, limits the interactions of those within a home by specifically naming the parties involved, and, like other protective orders, instructs all parties on the usage of any shared home or residence.

The difference between an Emergency Order and an Order of Protection is that an Emergency Order is temporary. It provides very limited protection to enable the named parties to seek a more long-term or permanent order. Emergency Orders are granted and valid only until the close of the next judicial business day. Each county in Arizona has a different method for issuing Emergency Orders, but law enforcement officials can help at the time they intervene.

While protective orders are not exclusive to acts of domestic violence, it is one of the top reasons why people seek to have them implemented. Living in a home where a person feels unsafe or fears harm to their children is not a feasible situation for anyone involved. Protective Orders allow those in these situations to seek the help they need.

Domestic violence and fear of harm are very difficult situations to navigate. No one wants to believe that their family will ever want to harm them. Unfortunately, these circumstances exist, and the victims of such violence deserve to escape the situation. Protective Orders allow all parties involved to take a step back and reevaluate the situation while seeking an outcome that leaves those who caused the harm accountable for their actions. They also afford victims and survivors the space they need to seek the legal, mental, and physical help required to return their lives to safety.

The Human Side of Protection Orders

The human side of protection orders

Those who are impacted by the need for protection orders often live in silence. Unfortunately, there is a stigma around those who find themselves in these difficult situations, and they may even find themselves blamed for their abuser’s actions. However, their voices are powerful and inspire others to seek out the help that they need.

Deciding to break the silence by filing for an Order of Protection is a huge decision. It’s a decision that can become easier when we as a society remember that everyone has a story and that taking the first step should never be shamed. Read the stories of anonymous individuals who lived behind protection orders.

About to Expire

As mentioned, many protection orders are not permanent; instead, they are designed to create the time and space needed for the parties involved to move on. Unfortunately for one victim, they discovered the party from whom they sought protection was simply biding their time and looking forward to the order’s expiration date. Desperate, the victim sought to have the order extended so they could continue to keep the space between themselves and their abuser. In this particular case, the victim was able to renew the protection order over the phone without having to return to court, a key benefit that may be provided by a protection order attorney.

Sexual Abuse of a Child

Some of the hardest situations to confront are those that involve children, particularly when they are victims of sexual abuse. A parent discovered that this was occurring to their child and decided to be the victim’s voice, attempting to immediately stop the abuse and get their child to safety. Though the abuser went to jail, the sentence was nowhere near long enough, and the release would likely put the child in danger again. Fear, anxiety, and uneasiness set in as the release date of the abuser grew closer. With the help of an attorney, the parent was able to secure a protective order for their child and themselves for two years. That was enough to lift the weight off their shoulders and ensure the abuser could not return to their lives.

Fearing the Scorn of Others

There is no doubt society can be judgmental, even against those who live in situations that are violent or abusive. Such was the case for one victim who did not want to seek a protective order because they feared the social judgment they would receive when friends and other family members found out. However, after learning to trust themselves and understand that what they needed mattered more than what those around them thought, they sought a protective order from their abuser. Despite the shame and guilt she was forced to feel from not only her family but her religion as well, the order was what she needed to gain back her sense of joy, happiness, and self-worth.

“I Believe You”

For those who are abused behind closed doors, it can be difficult to find someone who will believe them. There may be a great deal of fear involved that the person the victim chooses to tell will not believe them, worsening their situation. One young victim in her early teens became active at a local community center, where she found a mentor in one of the employees. Armed with a good reputation and a willingness to listen, this mentor became the person the teen felt she could most rely on. When the mentor took advantage of the situation and attempted to make a pass at the young teen, they were rejected. Growing angry, the mentor then texted and constantly called to persuade and ridicule the young victim in the hopes this abuse would force the teen into a relationship with them – a relationship that would break laws. On the day the protection order was granted after seeking help, three words stuck with the victim. The judge simply said, “I believe you.” That gave the young victim the confidence needed to move forward.

Legal Insights for Domestic Violence Cases

Legal Insights for Domestic Violence Cases

When it comes to helping clients gain the protective orders they need, there are several ways that skilled attorneys can get it right.

Attorneys Believe Their Clients

First, it is essential to stress that attorneys must believe their clients. Experience with similar situations and developing the understanding that most people are seeking protective orders because they are trying to take steps to establish safety in their lives enables attorneys to empathize with people. In addition, attorney and client privilege laws mean that honest conversations can be had in confidence between the survivor and the attorney.

Must Act Quickly

Second, your attorney is well aware that time is of the essence. While lawyers want to help their clients efficiently and effectively, some cases take time. Orders of Protection don’t always have time on their side. In the case of an abuser being released from jail, the challenge of obtaining an emergency order is unlikely because no abuse has currently taken place. However, an attorney can work on behalf of their client to help them move through the judicial system as quickly and efficiently as possible to ensure that the protections are put in place when they are needed.

Attorneys Are Not Judgemental

Third, victims seeking protection orders should know that their legal team carries no judgment. You did not ask to be placed in the circumstances you face, and seeking to free yourself of those circumstances should not come with judgment. Sharing details with an attorney could be difficult because as they ask personal questions, but a trustworthy attorney will ask these questions to learn the facts without judging you. An attorney is there to get the details right so they can build a case with the highest likelihood of securing your Protective Order.

Attorneys Can Make The Process Go Smoothly

Protective orders can be a challenge because there are multiple parties involved, and it is sometimes one person’s word against another’s. Evidence may be circumstantial and difficult to produce. But that does not mean protective orders are impossible to get. When an attorney believes in their client, understands that time is of the essence, and remains judgment-free, they can help guide and support their clients through the process by keeping them focused on the legal details that matter in their case. Litigating a domestic violence restraining order case is not simple, but the right attorney can make it a bearable experience.

Lessons Learned

If you, someone in your family, or someone you know is the victim of domestic violence, understand that you do not need to fight this battle alone. You did not ask for these circumstances, and you don’t deserve to live in them. Nobody should live in fear while their abuser is free to intimidate, frighten, threaten, or otherwise negatively impact their life. The abuser has taken away enough, and you deserve to escape the situation unharmed.
While living in an abusive situation can feel impossible to escape, there is hope. When the Order of Protection was granted, the survivors in our case studies all described the sense of relief they felt, as if a weight was lifted. This occurred because they were able to access legal routes to escape that oppression. In each of our survivor stories, one common thread remained consistent: they told a person who could help them about the abuse. By reaching out for discreet, expedient legal help, each was able to stop the cycle of abuse.

Resources for Help

Resources for Help

If you or someone you know is experiencing domestic violence, help can be a simple phone call away. Contacting the National Domestic Violence Hotline can be the first step in getting you, a loved one, or your child the help you deserve. This service can be a resource for physical and mental healthcare, safety plans, connecting victims with legal help, and more.

For immediate help with domestic violence, contact your local law enforcement agency. Not only can they respond in an emergency, but they can provide additional information about filing for protective orders and emergency protective orders should they become necessary. If you already have a protective order in place and the other party violates it, call 911.

Finally, seek the help of an Arizona protective order attorney who can help you navigate the legal system. Their knowledge will be invaluable as you navigate the difficult court processes ahead. Attorneys are also a wonderful resource for helping victims connect with professionals throughout the process, including counselors, therapists, law enforcement professionals, and others who can provide support.

Don’t Wait to Begin the Next Part of Your Life

Don’t wait to begin the next part of your life

Seeking a protective order from someone inflicting violence upon you is the first step on the road to safety and freedom. While a protective order may be a temporary solution, it carries with it the possibility of extension and the potential for a new life ahead. A protective order can give you enough time to gain the footing you need to start moving forward in safety.

Before seeking a protective order, request a consultation with a knowledgeable and experienced attorney who can help you understand the restraining order process for domestic violence cases and how orders of protection could impact your life. From child custody implications to concerns about rights as a victim of domestic violence, there are many hidden factors abuse, harassment, and stalking can impose on your life. You deserve a legal team that can help you understand the legal implications of such a decision as you face the rest of your life.

If you or someone you love is the victim of domestic violence, get the support you deserve. Contact The Valley Law Group today for a free, discreet consultation.

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