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About 20% of abuse victims file for a personal protection order, or PPO, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Issued by a civil court, a PPO forbids a person from doing something, such as contacting you, coming on to your property or harassing you at work. It allows the survivor to press charges should their abuser not obey the order.
While this piece of paper alone cannot guarantee a particular behavior will end (roughly two thirds of PPOs are violated by the abuser), it can still be important to get one, since many abusers do respect the orders. Should an abuser violate the order, however, they can face fines or jail time. It is important to note that a PPO should be a part of a larger safety plan, and should not be replied upon singularly. WomensLaw.org offers some safety strategies that are smart for anyone escaping an abusive situation to follow.
- Stop all contact with your abuser. Responding to this person’s actions could reinforce or encourage his or her behavior.
- Keep any evidence of stalking, such as voicemails, texts or emails for future court cases.
- Always keep a cell phone with you and don’t hesitate to call 911 if you feel you are in danger.
- Have a safe place to go in an emergency such as a police station, public area or the home of a friend of family member that is unknown to your harasser. If you feel like someone is following you, it’s not a good idea to go home.
- Let your coworkers, friends, neighbors and apartment building personnel know about your situation. Give them as much information as you can about the person who is harassing you including a photograph of him or her and a description of their vehicle. Ask them to call the police if they see this person at your home or place of work.
- Try not to go places alone. Ask someone to walk to your car, vary your routes to places you regularly visit and get an exercise buddy to go with you if you walk or jog outside.
- Report all incidents and threats to the police as soon as they occur. Keep a log of everything that’s happening including the name of the officer in charge of the case and the crime reference number, if there is one. This can all come in useful for future court dates.
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