Here is a list of the steps you can take to make sure that you are safe and that your protection order can be enforced:
- Review your protection order: Make sure it contains the basic elements for effective enforcement.
- Get written proof that the order was served on your abuser: This you can get from the court that issued it or the law enforcement that served it.
- Get certified copies of your protection order: You should carry at least one copy with you at all times. You should also give out these certified copies to your school, employer, friends or relatives, and any law enforcement agency that may need to enforce your protection order.
- Find out what procedures you have to follow: Procedures in different states may vary to get a protection order enforced. Some people in the court system might not be aware of the federal full faith and credit law that obliges them to enforce your order even if it's an out of state one. It might be good to remind them if necessary.
- Keep track of, and report, all of the abuser's violations: Violations also include phone calls and messages sent through other people. Even if you are the only one to witness the violation of the order you should keep track of this to establish a record and report the violations. A record will help law enforcement to know how to protect you.
- There are pros and cons for filing and registering your order in other jurisdictions: The pros are that registering it can help the police verify your order's existence and may increase the likelihood it's enforced. The cons are that even though federal law prohibits court personnel or the police to send notice of its registration to the abuser, it sometimes happens. You can remind them that it's prohibited. It's also dangerous for you when a protection order is public record and your abuser can easily locate you through these records.
Do I Need a Lawyer?
The legal process in getting a protection order and what to do if you relocate can be confusing and difficult. A family lawyer who works for a domestic violence program can assist you and help you to be safe.