Domestic violence: How can a protective order protect you?

Millions of people every year are victimized by domestic partners throughout the country, states the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence. About one third of all women and one fourth of all men have experienced some type of domestic violence during their lifetime, as well as one out of every 15 children. Domestic violence accounts for 15 percent of all violent crimes.

What constitutes abuse?

Domestic abuse includes any type of behavior that exerts fear and control over another person's life, and is not limited to physical harm. Abuse may include emotional, verbal, financial and sexual abuse. The tactics an abuser uses to control his or her victims often start out small at first, but gradually increase until the victim is completely under the control of the abuser. In this way, it is extremely difficult for victims to break free of their tormentors. However, escaping family abuse is important to break the cycle of violence. Obtaining parenting arrangements that protect children from their abusers may help to achieve this end.

It may help to create an escape plan before leaving, states The National Domestic Violence Hotline. An effective escape plan may include the following:

• Confiding the abuse in a trusted friend or family member

• Storing emergency cash, clothing, personal belongings and important documents in a safe place without the knowledge of the abuser

• Keeping a record of physical attacks, including photographs of injuries

• Reporting the abuse to authorities

• Contacting a domestic violence shelter

During this time, it is a good idea to consider obtaining protective order.

The elements of a protective order

What is a protective order? Also commonly known as a restraining order, this is a legal document obtained from the court that provides certain legal protections to domestic violence victims. While the order is in effect, an abuser is not allowed to approach the victim or to come within a certain distance from the victim's residence, school or place of employment. The abuser is also not allowed to contact the victim through the phone, email or other means. Protective orders usually last a few weeks to months. After the expiration, the victim may petition the court to make an order permanent. Reasonable proof will be required to convince a judge that the order is necessary.

Protective orders do not guarantee that an abuser will not approach the victim. However, if the terms of the order are breached, the abuser may be arrested and face penalties. If you are attempting to escape from an abusive partner, it may help to contact a family law attorney in Riverside with experience in protective orders.