What is a Domestic Violence Restraining Order?

Instructor: Amanda Smith

Amanda has taught adult cognitive-behavioral programs in a corrections setting for the last ten years and has a bachelor's degree in Sociology/Criminology.

When a person is the victim of a pattern of abuse in a relationship, they may qualify for a Domestic Violence Restraining Order. This lesson defines domestic violence and who may apply for this specific type of protection order.

What is Domestic Violence?

Teresa lives with her boyfriend who becomes rough with her every night after he drinks. He calls her names and makes fun of her. Sometimes he threatens to get her fired from her job at the local store. On occasion, he has even slapped her, but he has never left any bruises. Is Teresa eligible for a Domestic Violence Restraining Order?

In order to define what a Domestic Violence Restraining Order (DVRO) is, we must first look at the difference types of domestic violence that it covers. Physical abuse occurs when someone is being injured or something is being done to them is causing bodily harm. While the most obvious form of domestic violence is physical abuse, there are other behaviors that also qualify as abuse.

Emotional abuse is when someone is repeatedly put down, harassed, or called names to the extent that it affects their emotional health. Another form of abuse can occur at the psychological level. Psychological abuseis when someone is intimidated or threatened into believing they will suffer embarrassment or other consequences if they do not comply with the abuser's demands. Sexual abuse is when the abuser gives the victim unwanted sexual attention and advances or humiliates them sexually. Now that we have a better understanding of the different types of abuse, let's take a closer look at the restraining order.

Domestic Violence Restraining Order Definition

A person may apply for a Domestic Violence Restraining Order if they are or have been the target of repeated abusive behavior in any of the forms listed above (physical, emotional, psychological, sexual). This type of restraining order protects the victim by forbidding the abuser from certain behaviors. This can include physical contact, such as meeting up with or living with the person. The abuser may be required to move out of a shared residence. A DVRO can state that the abuser must stay a certain distance away from the victim, for example 500 yards away. It may also prohibit the abuser from calling or texting the victim. Lastly, a DVRO can give custody of any shared children to the victim for obvious safety concerns.

The process of getting a Domestic Violence Restraining Order varies by state, but generally is applied for through the local court system. It is different from other protection orders in that it is only granted after a court hearing where both parties are heard by the judge and present information and evidence. After the hearing, if a DVRO is granted, it typically lasts longer than other types of protection orders, sometimes remaining active for years.

A judge must sign the restraining order

Who Can Apply?

A Domestic Violence Restraining Order may be applied for by anyone that is in an abusive relationship with someone that they are related to by blood, such as a parent, grandparent, or child. It can also be the victim's spouse or domestic partner,or someone that they share children with.

If we look back at Teresa's case, she is being emotionally and psychologically abused through name calling and threats to get her fired from her job. Physical abuse is occurring when she is being hit. All of this is happening at the hands of her live-in boyfriend. Based on what we have learned, Teresa would be eligible to apply for a DVRO.

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