Stalked? Restraining Orders, Peace Bonds, Courts

Uploaded 11/4/2010, approx. 5 minute read

I am Sam Vaknin. I am the author of Malignant Self-Love: Narcissism Revisited.

You are a victim of abuse. You are being abused repeatedly and frequently. Should you get the courts involved in your situation?

If you want the nightmare to end, there is a rule of thumb which requires courage and determination to implement. Involve the courts whenever possible.

In many countries, the first step is to obtain a restraining order from a civil court, as part of your divorce or custody proceedings, or as a stand-alone measure. In some countries, the police apply to the court for an emergency protection order on your behalf.

The difference between a protection order and a restraining order is that the protection order is obtained following an incident of domestic violence involving injury or damage to property. It is available immediately. It is granted at the police's request, and it is issued even outside court hours.

Many restraining orders are granted ex parte without the knowledge or presence of your abusive partner, based solely on a signed and sworn affidavit submitted by you. A typical emergency restraining order forbids the offender from visiting certain locations, such as the children's school, your workplace or your home. It is later reviewed.

At the review, you should produce evidence of the abuse and witnesses. If the emergency or temporary order is upheld, it is fixed for a period of time at the judge's discretion.

Always carry the restraining order with you, and leave copies of the order at your place of employment and at your children's daycare and schools. You will have to show the restraining order to the police if you want to get your abuser arrested when he violates its terms. Breach of a restraining order is a criminal offense.

The wording of the restraining order is not uniform, and it is crucial. The police shall arrest is not the same as the police may arrest the offender.

So make sure that your restraining order is phrased properly. The police shall arrest the offender if he ignores the conditions set forth in the order.

Don't forget to ask the court to forbid your abuser to contact you by phone and other electronic means.

Seek a new restraining order if you had moved and your place of residence or your workplace or the children's daycare or schools have changed.

If the abuser has visitation rights with the children, these should be specified in the restraining order. Include a provision in the order, allowing you to deny the visit if he is intoxicated.

The order can be issued against your abuser's family and friends as well, especially if they harass and stalk you.

A restraining order is not a substitute for taking precautionary measures to safeguard yourself and your children.

Abusers often ignore the court's strictures. They taunt you all the same. They find ways.

The situation can easily escalate and get out of hand. Be prepared for such unpleasant and dangerous eventualities.

Avoid empty and unlit areas. Carry relevant emergency numbers with you at all times. Install a personalized alarm system. Wear comfortable shoes and clothes to allow you to run if you are attacked. Trust your senses. If you feel that you are being followed, go to a public place, restaurant, department store, cinema.

Learn by rote the transit routes of all public transport around your home and workplace and make special arrangements with a cab operator nearest to you.

You may also wish to consider buying a weapon or at least a mace spray can.

If you are physically or sexually assaulted or if you are being stalked or harassed, keep records of all the incidents and lists of witnesses.

Never hesitate to lay charges against your abuser, his family and friends. See your charges through by testifying against your offenders.

Try not to withdraw the charges even if you worked out your problems, even if you are afraid.

Abusers learn the hard way and a spell in jail or even a fine is likely to guarantee your future safety.

Based on a criminal police file, the criminal court can also force your abuser and his family and friends if they have been harassing you to sign a peace bond in the presence of a judge. A peace bond is a pledge of good behavior, often requiring your abuser to stay away from your home and place of work for a period of anywhere between 3 and 12 months.

Some peace bonds forbid the abuser from carrying weapons.

Have the peace bond with you at all times. Leave copies of the peace bond at your children's daycare and school centers and at your place of employment. You will have to show the peace bond to the police if you want to get your abuser arrested when he violates the terms of the peace bond. Breach of a peace bond is a criminal offense.

Do not meet your abuser or speak to him while the restraining order or the peace bond are in effect. The courts are likely to take a very dim view of the fact that you yourself have violated the terms of these instruments of law issued for your protection and at your request.

There are many additional remedies the courts can and do provide and apply. They can force your abusive partner to surrender to your household items and clothing, to grant you access to bank accounts and credit cards, to defray some costs, to pay alimony and child support, to submit to psychological counseling and evaluation, and to grant the police access to his home and workplace at all times.

Consult your family or divorce attorney as to what can and is desirable to be done.

In theory, the courts are the victim's friends. The truth, however, is a lot more nuanced.

If you are not represented, your chances to get protection and prevail, in other words, to have your day in court, they are very slim.

The courts also show some institutional bias in favor of the abuser. I discuss this elsewhere in another video.

Yet, despite these hurdles, there is no substitute to getting the legal system to weigh in and restrain your abuser.

Use the legal system wisely and you will not regret it.

I deal with two particular court-related situations, custody and giving testimony in two separate videos. Be sure to watch the entire series. It contains well over 40 videos and will be released in the next few weeks. I wish you luck.

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