A Restraining Order is Just a Piece of Paper

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Don’t get me wrong – I love Restraining Orders.  They work wonders with the average, garden variety bully.  What they won’t do is protect you or your family from a rageaholic, or anyone who isn’t concerned about breaking the law.

A Restraining Order can also be called an Order of Protection.  In most states, there are Emergency Orders as well as longer term Orders which can be in effect for up to five years.  A Restraining Order, in some states, can also force the abuser to surrender any firearms they own and/or prohibit them from purchasing more.  Well, in theory anyway.  As we have found out recently, our gun laws are routinely broken even by our military.

But, I’m wandering off the subject . . .

Most people have heard of Restraining Orders in domestic violence cases, but ROs or OPs are also issued in domestic cases to keep parties from liquidating or hiding assets and things of that nature.  There are also ROs issued in certain cases where the parties are restrained from discussing the proceedings – mostly in cases involving well-known individuals or celebrities.

I’m mostly concerned here with abuse or violence cases.  The biggest problem with Restraining Orders is that life follows certain patterns.  Human beings are habitual animals – we usually do what we’ve always done until it’s too painful not to change.

So, if you have never followed through with enforcing your boundaries before, chances are that the same will go for any Restraining Order you may obtain.  Your bully/abuser knows this.  And they will walk right through that little slip of paper every time.  Every. Damn. Time.

Unless you’re prepared to call the law EACH AND EVERY TIME your bully even microscopically violates the RO, then you’re wasting your time and the Court’s time.

If you’re already a Warrior who has very little trouble enforcing your boundaries, you’re pre-conditioned to take the necessary steps.  If you’re prepared to fight for yourself and your family, get the Restraining Order and enforce it!

The consequences for someone who violates a Restraining Order can be:

  • Civil Contempt of Court where a monetary fine is imposed – these are usually reserved for civil cases involved ROs that prevent parties from moving or hiding money/assets
  • Criminal Misdemeanor – these are usually involving domestic violence matters, and violations of this nature in my home state carry 30 days in jail AND a $500 fine
  • Criminal Felony – in some states, violation of a domestic violence RO where the bully has a firearm can be a felony and will carry a 5 year jail term.  These are also the cases where the Court can issue an Order requiring the bully to surrender their firearms and prevent the bully from legally purchasing firearms.

Another type of Restraining Order is a No Contact Order.  These are issued in criminal cases and can be used in any type of criminal case with a victim where the perpetrator is not allowed by law to contact the victim under any circumstances.  They are particularly helpful in domestic violence cases, and I believe you should ask for one in any domestic violence case at least until the case is heard by a judge to its final conclusion.

It’s worth noting that the Full Faith and Credit clause of the U.S. Constitution as well as current Federal law requires all states (and U.S. territories) to enforce any state’s valid Order of Protection.  If you move, take it with you and don’t hesitate to call the law.

What to do about someone who repeatedly walks right through a Restraining Order?

In my mind, once a bully willfully violates a Restraining Order the first time, you’re on notice that a paper of piece doesn’t mean squat to him or her.

Nor does breaking the law.  Of course, I could state the obvious which is that someone who physically assaults you in the first place doesn’t give a rat’s rear end about breaking the law, but I’m trying to Play Nice here.

I’m also not talking about someone who might inadvertently violate a Restraining Order.  I have known cases where people run into each other out in public with no advance knowledge that other will be there, and by doing so, they unwittingly violated a Restraining Order.  You’re the best one to know whether or not a violation is willful and premeditated.

Once you’re on notice that breaking the law isn’t going to stop someone from harming you, the choice is yours.  At this point, the first thing to do is talk with a lawyer or self-defense expert who is experienced in domestic violence cases.  Whatever the cost, do it.  Anyone who has experience with domestic violence can give you insights that you just can’t get anywhere else.  It’s well worth the time and the money.

Then consider these things when choosing your course of action:

  • What kind of person are you?  Do you freak out at the slightest confrontation or sense of danger or do you keep your head so you can think your way through threatening situations?
  • Can you physically move to another town, state or even country?  Is that feasible?
  • Would you consider carrying a firearm?  Are you someone like me – whose father taught her how to shoot a gun at age 12?  Have you been taught firearm safety and are you familiar with firearms?
  • Do you have a Concealed Weapons Permit?  Would you be comfortable carrying a firearm on a daily basis?
  • Do you have anger management issues yourself such that carrying a firearm or other weapon could be a liability for you?
  • Are there other weapons you would be comfortable with – pepper spray (please don’t fall for the Can of Wasp Spray scam), a taser, etc.?

Quite frankly, if you’re terrified of guns, the worst thing you can do is go buy a gun.  I guarantee you’ll either shoot yourself or get yourself shot with your own gun.

If that’s you – PLEASE DON’T GO BUY A GUN!

It’s no shame to be fearful of firearms.  I’ve been around them all my life, but I’ve been around a few that scare me a little.  A healthy dose of respect as far as any weapon is concerned is a good thing.

If your personality is such that you habitually freak out first, you are not a candidate for using any kind of weapon to protect yourself.  You need to develop a plan to stay away from the bully AND to get away from him or her if necessary.  Learn to avoid situations where you are likely to be a victim.  This is a great blog with a ton of good info.

Education is your best resource!  My father drilled into my head since I was a child to never let anyone forcibly take me away from my location.  It’s Personal Safety 101.  Please think about these scenarios ahead of time so you can practice.

It wouldn’t hurt to take a couple of Self Defense classes.  They are offered locally in most areas.  Learn what to do if you are attacked.  Learn what to do if you are taken hostage.

If you’re in a relationship with a bully or an abuser or feel that your situation may be headed in this direction, I beg you – please develop a plan.  Talk it over with your family members or closest friends – just do NOT, under any circumstances, discuss it with your bully.

The time to make a decision is not when you’re faced with the physical threat.

The time is now.

The National Domestic Violence Hotline has many great resources.  Click here to visit their website to learn more.

After all, a Restraining Order really is only a piece of paper.  If you live in out in the country like I do, it can take law enforcement 10-15 minutes to get to you after you call 911.

The choice is yours, and you damn well better know what you’re going to do after you dial 911 if the law doesn’t get to you in time.  For your sake and for the sake of your children and family.

Erin

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