What can a protective order do to protect domestic violence victims?
Victims of domestic violence may seek a protective order when they are ready to leave. Protective orders have many functions to protect victims.
Domestic violence is a serious issue affecting people who live in Alaska, as well as across the country. Authorities say that violence committed by an intimate partner against another account for 15 percent of all violent crimes in the country, according to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence. This number may actually be higher, since many incidents of domestic violence are not reported. Domestic abuse also perpetuates a cycle of violence, since children who grow up in abusive households are more likely to become victims of domestic violence as adults or to go on to abuse their own partners and children.
It is usually difficult for victims to leave an abusive spouse. Attempting to end a marriage without outside help is likely to result in the abuser committing further harm. This is why, advises The National Domestic Violence Hotline, victims should seek assistance from law enforcement and other agencies before attempting to leave. Abuse shelters and counselors are good places to offer suggestions and support, and law enforcement offices are where victims may seek help in obtaining a protective order against the abuser.
What is a protective order?
A protective order serves to protect victims against abuse by prohibiting contact, communication and other forms of abuse by the alleged abuser against the victim. Once this legal document has been ordered by a judge, the abuser will not be allowed to go near the victim’s home, place of work or school. He or she will be forbidden to call, text, email or contact the victim on social media. Failure to abide by the terms of a protective order may result in criminal charges against the abuser.
The first type of protective order that is issued is known as an emergency order. A few weeks after the emergency protective order is issued, a court hearing will be conducted, during which the abuser will be allowed to tell his or her side. The victim will need to provide reasonable proof that abuse occurred before the judge will issue another order to protect the victim for several months. It is also possible to later obtain a permanent protective order.
What else can a protective order do?
In addition to preventing contact, protective orders can give specific instructions to the abuser to not harass or stalk the victim, either in person, by phone or online. According to WomensLaw.com, protective orders may also include the following:
- Allow the victim sole possession of the home and vehicle
- Give the victim temporary child custody
- Order the abuser to give up his or her firearms to authorities
- Allow the victim to request a police officer escort to the home to pick up belongings
- Require the abuser to attend a treatment program for alcohol, drugs or anger management
- Order financial compensation to the victim for medical care, damaged property or counseling
Additionally, a judge may include other requirements or conditions in a protective order that he or she deems necessary. It may help to speak with an Anchorage family law attorney who has experience in domestic violence cases, for further information on obtaining a protective order and leaving an abusive relationship.