Safety Planning

What is an Order of Protection?

If you have experienced domestic violence, an order of protection can play an important role in helping you achieve safety, security, and peace of mind.

 

What is an order of protection? 

An order of protection is a civil court order that protects victims of domestic violence from abusive family or household members.  Specifically, the order prevents abusers from having any contact whatsoever with their victims.  There are two types of orders of protection: temporary orders and final orders, which are discussed in more detail below.

 

Who can apply for an order of protection?

If you have experienced domestic abuse, you are eligible to apply for an order of protection.   Domestic abuse is defined by Arkansas law as “physical harm, bodily injury, assault, or the infliction of fear of imminent physical harm, bodily injury, or assault between family or household members.” It also includes any criminal sexual conduct between family or household members.

 

The term, “family or household members,” is defined very broadly under Arkansas law.  It includes spouses, former spouses, parents, children, people related by blood within four degrees, any children living in the home, people who live together or used to live together, people who have had a child together, and people who are dating or who used to date.

 

What are the steps for getting an order of protection?

To obtain an order of protection, you must first go to the circuit clerk’s office in the county where you live, where your abuser lives, or where the abuse occurred, and fill out a petition for a temporary order of protection.

The next step is for a judge to be assigned to the case and for the judge to read the petition.  If the judge believes there has been abuse or that there is danger of future abuse, he or she will grant a temporary order of protection.  The judge will also set a date for a court hearing to determine whether to make the temporary order of protection a final order of protection.

 

At the court hearing, both you and your abuser will have an opportunity to tell your side of the story and present any evidence you may have.  Once the judge has heard both sides, he or she will decide whether to grant a final order of protection.  A final order of protection can last anywhere from 90 days to 10 years.  If your abuser violates the order, he or she can face arrest, fines, and jail time.

 

How well do protection orders work?

While protection orders can play an important role in reducing your risk of future abuse, they cannot absolutely guarantee your safety.  Some abusers may obey the order to avoid legal repercussions, while others may treat the order as nothing more than a piece of paper.  Ultimately, you know your abuser best and whether or not an order of protection would be likely to prevent him or her from harassing, threatening, or abusing you in the future.

 

How can Peace at Home help?

If you decide to file for an order of protection, you do not have to go through the process alone.  Peace at Home’s legal department can assist you in filing for an order of protection, accompany you to the court hearing, provide you with legal representation, and help you develop a safety plan. Call 479.442.9811 to speak with an advocate about legal services.

 

Staying Safe During the Holidays

The holiday season can be a wonderful time to celebrate with family and friends, but for survivors of domestic violence there are also some safety challenges. Factors like increased financial stress, family pressure, alcohol or drug use, and increased contact with the abuser can all make the holidays more dangerous for a survivor. Even after leaving the violent relationship, some survivors find themselves in situations where they are around their abuser while visiting family.

Here are some tips to help those who have experienced domestic violence stay safer during the holidays.

 

  1. Remember your safety plan. Review your personal safety plan and remind your children about your family safety plan, including things like your ‘safe’ word or who to call for help. If you don’t already have a safety plan, you can review our Family Safety Plan Worksheet or call an advocate at 479-442-9811.

  2. Keep your phone charged and on you. It can be difficult to predict when an interaction will turn violent. If you know you will be around your abuser during the holidays, make sure you have your phone on you and charged at all times.

  3. Have an audience. Use the holiday gatherings as a chance to minimize the amount of time you are alone with your abuser. If you have a supportive family member, contact them ahead of time and ask that they stay close so that you don’t have to be alone with your abuser.

  4. Take care of yourself. If you have recently left domestic violence, the holidays can bring up a lot of bad memories from previous years’ of abuse. Remember to take care of yourself and focus on forming new, positive memories for yourself and your children.

  5. Get help. If you are still in a violent relationship, visiting family for the holidays might provide you a good opportunity to flee. If you have a supportive ally in the family, they might be able to provide you with short term housing, money, or assistance to help you get away. If you have access to a safe phone, contact Peace at Home at 479-442-9811 for help before, during, or after leaving violence.

Tech Safety and Domestic Violence

While computers, cell phones, and other innovations in electronics and communication can provide invaluable resources to survivors of domestic violence, these items can also be used by abusers to stalk, harass, monitor, or locate someone.

Stopping the use of technology is not always a feasible or safe solution, but there are other tips you can follow to increase your safety when using technology.

  1. Trust your instincts. If you think your actions or movements are being monitored, they probably are.

  2. Try to determine the information source. Is it all information you shared on Facebook or looked up in online searches? Do they always know where you are when you drive your car somewhere? Having an idea of the source of the monitoring can help you take control of the information they are able to access.

  3. Use safer computers. If you think that your home computer or tablet is being monitored, consider using a friend’s computer or public computers at libraries if you are able to.

  4. Remember to log out. Make sure “keep me logged in” buttons are always unchecked on all devices and remember to log out of your accounts.

  5. Change your account passwords. Go through your accounts and change passwords. Do not use the new passwords on a computer that may be monitored. Make sure you are using different passwords for all of your accounts.

  6. Check your cell phone settings. Disable the location access and bluetooth settings on your cell phone if you suspect any monitoring. If you are able to safely do so, getting a new phone is an even better option.

  7. Have your car checked. A trusted mechanic can check vehicles for location monitoring devices that may have been installed without your knowledge.

  8. Document monitoring and online harassment. Whether or not you choose to make a report to law enforcement, consider documenting different instances of monitoring or online abuse/harassment.

  9. Remember you don’t have to do all this alone. A Peace at Home Advocate can help you create a personalized tech safety plan and discuss other safety resources like emergency shelter or an Order of Protection.

Peace at Home Crisis Hotline – 479.442.9811 or 877-442.9811