Domestic Violence

Protective Orders

A person seeking protection may ask the court for protection by filing a petition for a protective order.

The person seeking protection is the petitioner; The person that the petitioner is seeking protection from is the defendant.

It is not necessary to have an attorney to file the petition or to represent the petitioner in court.

Petitioners may get forms and assistance from:

Domestic Violence – FAQs

Why all the talk about women as victims of male violence. Don’t women use violence against men, too? The reality is that domestic violence is an unequal crime and women are the primary victims. The FBI estimates that 85% of partner violence victims are female. Other data collected by the National Crime Victimization Survey indicate that no matter what the rate of violence by gender, or who initiates it, women are 7 to 10 times more likely than men to be injured.

We know about the physical violence, but what else is a part of domestic violence? Domestic violence is rarely an isolated incident, but rather is a pattern of coercive behavior using tactics such as emotional and verbal abuse, threats and intimidation, isolation, and economic control to gain power and control over the victim. In light of these other tactics that produce fear, the use of violence need not occur often in order to make the victim comply with her abuser’s demands.

What happens if the abuse continues? If nothing occurs to interrupt the pattern of abuse and violence, it is likely to occur more often and the level of injuries sustained during an incident will escalate over time. As the abuse becomes more severe, the victim feels increasingly trapped in the relationship. Yet, it is also during this same period that she frequently increases her attempts to reach out for help.

Can we tell who is likely to use lethal violence against their partner? Lethality assessment in domestic violence cases is the examination of the abuser’s behavior and other indicators that may signal an increased likelihood of lethal violence. The following should be taken into account when assessing an abuser’s level of violence and the risk of becoming lethal to his partner:

  • Threats of suicide or homicide;
  • Access to weapons;
  • A recent or impending separation;
  • Obsession with his partner;
  • Access to his partner;
  • A history of law enforcement involvement; and
  • Hostage-taking.

Who are the victims? The stereotype of a battered woman is someone who is poor, a racial or ethnic minority, uneducated or under-educated, docile, meek and submissive. She is portrayed as frightened and therefore likely to exaggerate or overstate the problems she is experiencing with her partner. The reality is that domestic abuse and dating violence cut across all demographic, racial and ethnic lines. Battered woman come from every class, race, and educational background. While she may be docile or submissive, she is as likely to be angry about the abuse and resentful toward her partner for subjecting her to it. She may not display her fear to others and may minimize the problem when confronted by friends of family.

Why don’t victims of domestic violence just leave and stay away? Many victims of domestic violence do leave and never return to their partners. Those who do stay are likely to do so for a variety of reasons, such as:
  • Lack of resources;
  • A belief system that discourages or prohibits the victim from leaving;
  • No place to go if the victim does leave;
  • Hope that the abuser will change their behavior; and/or
  • Fear that the abuser will carry out threats to seriously harm or kill the children or other family members if the victim leaves.
It is a mistake for others to believe that leaving an abusive relationship will end the violence. Violence often escalates at the time of separation and can incorporate new behaviors, such as stalking, that are designed to force the victim back into the relationship. Attempting to or leaving an abusive partner substantially increases the risk of lethal violence.

Who are these abusers? Just as there are erroneous stereotypes about the victim, the abuser is sometimes not who you think he is. He is frequently portrayed as poor, a racial or ethnic minority, and either uneducated or under-educated. Many assume that because he is violent toward his partner, he must be aggressive and/or violent in his public behavior. On the contrary, abusers are found in every social class and employment status, every race and ethnic background. While they can behave like bullies, they are as likely to be civil to others and perhaps even charming.

What causes someone to abuse and control their partner? Domestic violence is rarely caused by stress, anger out-of-control, mental or emotional illness, dysfunction within the relationship, poor communication skills, provocation on the part of the victim, or substance and/or alcohol abuse. However, there is a correlation between substance use or abuse prior to or during the incident, which increases the risk of serious injury or death in such incidents. While each of the factors named are frequently used as excuses for and can exacerbate the violence, they do not cause domestic violence.

What happens to children in homes where one parent is abusing the other? It is estimated that 85% of children who live in violent homes are eyewitnesses, attempt to intervene, and/or experience the violence themselves. Children in these homes are at greater risk of deliberate or inadvertent injury. In addition, these children experience a host of emotional and psychological problems as a result of the violence between parents.

What works best to end domestic violence? When different agencies work together to improve their community’s response to domestic violence, it is referred to as a coordinated community response. In some areas of the country, such efforts have brought about a significant reduction in the number of serious domestic violence injuries and deaths. At the core of a coordinated response is the shared belief that domestic violence is a crime and should be taken seriously, that the victim and children should be protected from further harm, and that creating meaningful consequences for the abusers is the best way to hold them accountable.