PLAN FOR YOUR SAFETY!
Restraining orders are very positive steps towards establishing personal safety. However, women should give some thought to planning other ways to protect them and handling emergencies if the respondent violates the order.
1. Call 911 immediately if the respondent violates the restraining order.
2. Try to make your residence more secure – change the locks, secure the windows, leave the lights on outside.
3. Ask neighbors to call the police if they hear suspicious noises or see your abuser around your home or apartment.
4. Check with friends or family to see if anyone could pick you up and/or let you spend the night with them in an emergency.
5. Ask co-workers to walk you to and from the bus or your car, screen your calls and keep an eye out for your abuser.
6. Plan a place to go if you need to leave in an emergency (example: a friend’s, neighbor’s or a nearby store or hospital). Even if you cannot stay at this place, you can use it to call the police, friends or shelters, or to make other plans.
7. Put important items such as medical records, birth certificates, identification, credit cards, checkbook, keys, medications or welfare identification in a safe place so you can take them with you if you need to leave in a hurry, or leave copies of them in another place.
8. Set aside some emergency money and a change of clothes for yourself and your children. Keep these in the trunk of your car, at a friend’s or a neighbor’s or at work, etc.
9. Use different stores and businesses and change the hours you conduct your business. Drive a different route, take a different bus, or get off at a different stop.
10. To ensure that your address is confidential, you need to talk to your utility companies (phone, electric, gas), the post office, your bank, welfare, social security, the support enforcement division, the DMV, creditors and friends and family.
Many abusers isolate their victims geographically and socially. As a result, many victims have lost their support system. Developing a support network can be very helpful when planning for your safety. There are many people and places to turn to for help.
Some are listed below:
- Domestic and sexual violence hotline
- Women's support groups
- Faith communities
Think about the following questions when asking for support:How have these people helped me in the past?
How might they help me now?
Do you have:
A place to live or a safe place to go?
Money or a way to get money?You may be eligible for an emergency grant from Department of Human Services Self-Sufficiency Program
Transportation or a way to leave?
Food or a way to get food?You may be eligible for emergency food stamps from Department of Human Services and we have a list of places to get a food box
If needed, safe and reliable child care?You may be eligible for emergency child care through Community Action Agency
What to take if you leaveIf you have time, you may want to take the following items:
Identification: Driver's license, social security cards for you and your children, work permit, green card, passport
Money: checkbooks, credit/debit cards
House and car keys
Change of clothes
Birth certificate (at the county courthouse)
Restraining order, stalking order, divorce papers, custody order (also at the county courthouse)
Insurance papers (at your agent's office)
Lease (at your landlord's office)
Medical records (at your doctor's office)
Remember, it is okay if you forget something you need. Your support system may be able to help you replace things you need. You can also call the hotline to find out how to get certain items.
Temporary Restraining Orders
The law offers the protection of a temporary restraining order to victims of domestic violence whether or not the abuser has been arrested or prosecuted. The order is free, and the victim doesn't need an attorney to get one although an attorney is recommended if the abuser contests the restraining order.
The person (victim) who requests a temporary restraining order is called the "petitioner"; the person (abuser) whom the order restrains is called the "respondent."
A Restraining Order Can:
Require the abuser to stop abusing, threatening, or interfering with the victim and with children in her custody
Forbid the abuser to enter the victim's home, school, place of business, or other specified place
Order the abuser out of the home if the victim is sole or part owner of the home, or is on the rental agreement
Require the police to stand by while the person leaving the home removes personal belongings
Give the victim temporary legal custody of the children if the children are in her physical custody or, if they are not, grant her visitation rights
A temporary restraining order is available in every county in Oregon. Once issued, it is effective throughout the state for one year unless the petitioner wants the order ended earlier or wants it renewed.
Police are required to enforce a restraining order. A person who violates a Restraining Order can be arrested, tried for contempt of court or any crime committed, and if found guilty, can be fined or put in jail. Generally, fear of arrest makes most abusers respect the order. But, a temporary restraining order is no guarantee of safety for the victims.
A Woman is Eligible to Get a Restraining Order If She Meets the Following Criteria:
- She was the victim of abuse within the past six months
- or she was the victim of abuse more than six months ago, and the abuser has been in prison or jail
- or she was the victim of abuse more than six months ago, and the abuser has lived more than 100 miles from her in the past six months
- The abuse was bodily injury
- or attempted bodily injury
- or the threat of immediate serious bodily injury
- or sexual abuse
- or rape
- She is the abuser's wife
- or the abuser's in-law
- or relative
- or is in a sexually intimate relationship with the abuser
- or is the biological co-parent (with the abuser) of a minor child
- She is 18 years old
- or "emancipated" (a legal action) if younger than 18
- or younger than 18 and married to the abuser who is 18 or older
- or younger than 18 and sexually intimate with the abuser who is 18 or older
The court will hold a hearing on the day you file your papers or the next day that the court is open for business. If the judge decides you have met the legal standard for a restraining order, the judge will issue a restraining order at the time of the hearing.
The restraining order is effective, legally, as soon as the court grants it; however, it cannot be effective in a practical sense until the abuser knows it exists. A sheriff or another qualified person must serve the respondent with a copy of the order. After the respondent receives it, he has 30 days to ask for a hearing, which must be held within 21 days of that request.
The judge may change or cancel the restraining order based on information received at the hearing. Changes in custody or visitation rights may be requested at any time while the order is in effect.
If the victim and the abuser later divorce, and the provisions of the divorce decree are different from the provisions of the restraining order, the divorce decree will take precedence.
Please note: There are circumstances where it is important that you consider whether a restraining order is the best option. This is especially true when you are considering moving out of the area and child visitation issues are involved. We recommend you call your local women's shelter program and talk to someone regarding your situation.
Protection from Stalking
Until 1993, a survivor of domestic violence who was being stalked in Oregon by her abuser had little or no legal protection against the stalking unless she met the criteria for a temporary restraining order. The 1993 Oregon Legislature made stalking a crime and created protections for victims. However, the courts later ruled that law unconstitutional. The 1995 Legislature reworked the troublesome provisions and passed another anti-stalking law.
The law now defines stalking as knowingly alarming or coercing another person or a member of that person's immediate family or household by engaging in repeated and unwanted contact with the other person. The stalking behavior must meet a standard of "objective reasonableness" - that is, the behavior must be such that any person in the victim's position (or in the position of the victim's household) would reasonably feel alarmed or coerced by it.
A person who is being stalked can get protection under the law by making a complaint to any law enforcement officer and requesting an Officer's Citation. The request must include a sworn statement from the victim - or from the victim's parent or guardian, if appropriate - describing the stalking.
The Officer's Citation is issued when the officer has "probable cause" to believe that the alleged stalker has made repeated, unwelcome contact with the victim and that it is reasonable for the victim to be alarmed for her own safety and/or the safety of members of her immediate family or household.
The Officer's Citation tells the alleged stalker to appear in court within three court-business days under penalty of arrest - for a hearing at which the alleged stalker must show cause as to why a judicial stalking order should not be issued. During that three-day period before the court hearing, the victim is protected under the Officer's Citation.
The Officer's Citation also includes a copy of the stalking complaint and notifies the victim of the time and place of the hearing.
The protective order will be granted if the victim appears at the hearing and the court determines that:
The respondent (the stalker) has intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly made repeated and unwanted contact with the petitioner (the victim) or with members of the victim's immediate family or household and, as a result, alarmed or coerced the victim, and
It is objectively reasonable for the victim to have been alarmed.
Unless the court limits the duration of the protective order, it is permanent.
The court can order the stalker to undergo a mental health evaluation and can move to commit the stalker if there is probable cause to believe he is dangerous to himself or others or is unable to care for himself.
The law sets criminal and civil penalties for stalking. A stalker may be convicted of a misdemeanor unless the stalker has a prior conviction for stalking or has violated a stalking protective order, in which case the latest stalking offense can be filed as a felony. The victim also may file a civil lawsuit against the stalker for money to be paid as compensatory and punitive damages.
300 4th Ave SW, Room 100
PO Box 100
Albany, OR 97321
Hours: Monday-Friday 8:30-5:00
Phone: (541) 967-3805
Fax: (541) 928-3501