What is a Protection from Abuse Order?

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Protection from abuse order is a court order which mandates that an abusive individual stay away from the targets of his or her abuse. The order empowers law enforcement to act before abusive events occur, if there is a reasonable concern that the person protected by the order is at risk. The protection from abuse order is very similar in nature to a restraining order, except that protection from abuse orders are specifically for people who have experienced abuse.

A protection from abuse order is designed to keep the abuser away from the victim.
A protection from abuse order is designed to keep the abuser away from the victim.

The order can be taken out in situations in which someone is trying to get out of an abusive relationship or has just gotten out of such a relationship. Most commonly, they are taken out against abusive partners. The order usually states that the abuser must stay away from the subject of the order along with his or her family members, and that the abuser cannot make threatening phone calls, cannot enter the home of the subject of the order, and cannot do things like pursuing children at school.

Phone calls may be prohibited under a protection from abuse order.
Phone calls may be prohibited under a protection from abuse order.

In addition to ordering the abuser to stay away, a protection from abuse order can also set out temporary measures for child custody, empowering the subject of the order with full parental rights, and it can also order child support. If the abused and abuser are sharing a home, the abuser must leave the home, and likewise abusers cannot show up in the workplace of the subject of the order. The goal of the protection from abuse order is to prevent further abuse from happening.

A protection from abuse order may be obtained by a person who is attempting to leave an abusive situation.
A protection from abuse order may be obtained by a person who is attempting to leave an abusive situation.

In order to receive this type of injunction, the person who wants protection must file with a court. A judge will usually enter a temporary order which takes effect immediately and then set a date for a hearing. The target of the order is notified that an order has been taken out and is told when the hearing will occur to provide an opportunity to respond. During a hearing on a protection from abuse order, witnesses may be called on both sides including law enforcement who may have responded to calls, family members, and so forth. If there are concerns about safety, the victim can request that address, phone number, and other personal information be sealed so that the abuser cannot access it.

It is possible to file the paperwork without the assistance of a lawyer, but people who are concerned about the potential for abuse are often encouraged to consult a lawyer or domestic violence advocate. There can be unintended consequences of filing an order, depending on the situation, and it can be helpful to have experienced advice. Someone with experience can also help a victim of abuse navigate the court system more comfortably.

Many victims of abuse become fearful of escalation if they seek out an abuse order.
Many victims of abuse become fearful of escalation if they seek out an abuse order.
Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a wiseGEEK researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

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