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Whether it’s called an order of protection, protection order or restraining order, each state offers some version as a means of protection against domestic violence. Below, we answer some of the most common questions.
Q: What if I need a protection order immediately—and don’t have time for all of the paperwork?
A: In emergency situations, some states will issue an Emergency Protection Order (EPO), which is a short-term protection order—which usually lasts for three to seven days. This scenario generally occurs when police are called to a domestic violence situation. They’ll give the survivor an EPO, allowing her to request a longer-term protection order should she choose to do so.
Q: Does a protection order protect only me?
A: Not if you don’t want it to. You may request the order also include your children, other family members, roommates or your current significant other. Including other individuals means the same no-contact rules apply—even if the person(s) weren’t directly harmed.
Q: My abuser threatened to harm my dog. Can I get a protective order for my pet?
A: Maybe. Some states allow pets to be protected under the same protection order due to this very reason. Find out the law in your state here.
Q: How long does a protection order last?
A: Anywhere from one to five years, and in extreme cases, a lifetime. In the event your protection order expires, and you still feel in danger, you may renew it.
Q: How exactly am I protected under a protection order?
A: Depending on where you live, it can include any of the following:
- No contact – Prohibiting the abuser from having any contact with you, including calling, texting, emailing, stalking, or attacking.
- Peaceful contact – Permitting the abuser to peacefully communicate with you for specific reasons, such as childcare.
- Stay away – Ordering the abuser to stay at least a certain number of yards or feet away from you. The distance varies, according to state, but generally it’s at least 100 yards or 300 feet.
- Move out – Requiring the abuser to move out of the home you share.
- Firearms – Requiring the abuser to surrender any guns and prohibiting the purchase of guns.
- Counseling – Ordering the abuser to attend counseling, such as batterer’s education.
Q: What if my abuser violates the protection order?
A: While protection orders do deter some abusers, between half and two-thirds are violated, according to the National Institute of Justice and the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention.If your abuser is a repeat offender, or it was a serious violation, felony charges will most likely be filed. Otherwise, the offender will be arrested and charged with a new domestic violence charge (a misdemeanor) or contempt of court.
Q: If I move to protect myself, will my protection order still be valid?
A: Yes! Federal law and the Full Faith & Credit Clause of the Constitution requires that a protection order can be upheld where it’s issued, as well as in all other U.S. states.
Q: Can I get a protection order if I’m an undocumented immigrant?
A: Yes! Everyone in the U.S., regardless of immigration or citizenship status, has the right to obtain a protection order. Learn more about your rights in this article, Safety for Undocumented Victims of Abuse.
To find out more about protection orders in your state, visit the National Center on Protection Orders and Full Faith & Credit, or check out more articles on protection orders.
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