What are restraining orders? How can I get one?
Many abusive men engage in ongoing strategies of harassment and intimidation against their partner even after they separate. Restraining orders are an important tool of the family court to help keep women and their children in these situations safe. A family court judge can issue a restraining order if the applicant provides sufficient evidence that she is fearful her partner or former partner will hurt her or her children.
It is very important for a woman to present strong evidence to support her application for a restraining order. This could include:
- information about criminal charges related to violence or stalking, if any have been laid
- detailed information about any threats the abuser has made, including copies of emails, letters, telephone messages, Facebook postings, etc.
- details of any post-separation stalking behaviour
- observations by other people of his behaviour
Restraining orders are issued on a standard form order, which lists the restrictions on the abuser’s behaviour. Common provisions include:
- specific prohibited behaviours, such as telephoning or emailing her or coming to her home or workplace
- minimum distance he must remain away from her
- prohibition of contact with other people such as her children
- prohibition on his presence in a specific township or county
A woman will have more success in having her restraining order enforced by the police if she:
- has multiple copies of the order made and ensures she has one with her at all times
- documents any and all problematic behaviours by the abuser
- never consents to or initiates contact with him under any circumstances
- lets others know what she wants them to do if the abuser attempts contact with her
If the abuser breaches the restraining order, he can be arrested and charged with a criminal offence.