Getting a temporary protective order is usually a breeze — judges err on the side of caution and will generally issue the order based simply on your sworn statement.
However, you have to be back in court in a few days with actual evidence to support your claims — otherwise you go back to being the victim of harassment.
This is how you give the judge enough evidence to make the protective order permanent:
1. Make a statement of the danger.
Be very specific about what has happened to you when this person was not legally prevented from coming near you. Be clear about what you believe may happen. For example, did this person physically strike you? Has he or she threatened to cut your throat in your sleep? If you have other issues — like the harasser is calling your job nine times a day and your boss has had enough, make sure that you let the judge know so that prohibition can be added to the order as well.
2. Bring witnesses if you can.
Anyone who has seen you being physically injured by your harasser or treated you for those injuries can be a useful witness. In some cases, like that of emergency room workers, you may need a subpoena to compel them to come to court.
3. Bring paper and photographic evidence.
Gather any documents or photos of the abuse. For example, threatening letters, notes left on your windshield, profanities keyed into the door or hood of your car, photos of your injuries in the days following the last incidence of violence and photos of destruction done to your home or car are all useful evidence.
4. Tell your story with graphic details.
Experts recommend practicing telling your story to the judge. You want to retain your emotional control while you’re talking — but that can be hard to do unless you’ve recited the details of the trauma so often you’ve become a little numb. Use specific details and graphic language when necessary — if your abuser swore at you and held a 6-inch knife to your face while threatening to cut you, tell the judge exactly what was said.
If you think that your abuser will fight the permanent protective order, it may be wise to get a domestic violence attorney to help you in court through this process.
Source: WomensLaw.org, “Preparing Your Case,” accessed Aug. 24, 2017