Domestic Violence Awareness Month: How to Gain Protective Orders

Woman hand signing document

The U.S. Department of Justice estimates that 835,000 men and around 1.3 million women are victims of physical violence by a partner or family member each year. October is domestic violence awareness month. The aim of this is to shed light on a silent epidemic and offer options to people who may not realize they have any.

What Is Domestic Violence?

Domestic violence is a pattern of abusive behavior in a relationship. It is generally used by the abuser to gain and maintain control over another person.

Domestic violence doesn’t have to be between romantic partners, it can also be between:

  • relatives;
  • legal guardians or adoptive parents;
  • persons who share a child;
  • roommates; or
  • persons who share a common romantic partner.

Violence or abuse can come in many forms, including:

  • Physical abuse: any violent behavior inflicted on another person (hitting, shoving, cutting, biting, etc.). It can also take the form of denying medical treatment and/or forcing drugs or alcohol on another person.
  • Sexual abuse: when a person attempts to coerce or force a victim into a sexual encounter without consent. This can also include having nude photos sent to you unsolicited and without your consent.
  • Emotional abuse: invalidating or deflating a victim’s sense of self-worth and self-esteem. This could be criticism, name-calling, interfering with a victim’s ability to do things, or ruining a relationship between the victim and someone else.
  • Economic abuse: when an abuser attempts to make their victim financially reliant on them. These abusers seek to gain complete control over financial resources.
  • Psychological abuse: when an abuser invokes fear in their victim through intimidation or threats of violence.
  • Threats: threatening to injure or use a weapon as a form of psychological abuse.
  • Stalking: following, spying, tracking, watching, harassing, or showing up at a victim’s work or home.
  • Cyberstalking: online actions that inflict substantial distress on the victim.
  • Revenge porn: threatening to or actually posting intimate pictures of a former partner without their consent.

Protective Orders

If you are the victim of domestic abuse in Texas, you can apply for a court order to keep your abuser away from you and your family. This is called a protective order, and there are a few types available:

  • Texas Magistrate’s Emergency Protective Order (EPO): When a law enforcement official encounters a domestic violence situation, law enforcement can apply for a short-term protective order for the victim through a magistrate. The alleged abuser is usually required to leave the home and stay away for a prescribed amount of time. The EPO is limited to period of up to 60 days (until the victim can gain long-term protection).
  • Texas Family Law Ex Parte Temporary Protective Order (TPO): This is different from an EPO because it is through the family court. The victim can get emergency relief without the accused present to launch a defense. This can often help the victim escape without the abuser knowing. The TPO is valid for up to 21 days until the abuser has been served and given notice of the hearing.
  • Texas Family Law Final Protective Order (PO): This protective order is what you get after the TPO or if you don’t have a TPO, you can get this after a hearing. The typical Texas PO is good for 2 years, however, it can be longer. A victim has the option to renew their protective order if they still feel threatened by the abuser.

Violation of Protective Orders

If a victim experiences the abuser breaking the protective order, the victim should call law enforcement to arrest the perpetrator. The law enforcement official should bring charges for breaking the protective order. If someone has been found guilty of violating a protective order, they may have consequences of a criminal record or further jail time for contempt of court. A felony charge is usually reserved for serious or repeat violations.

Helping Our Clients Stay Safe

You don’t have to suffer in silence if you are a victim of domestic violence. Our firm is made up of dedicated, compassionate attorneys who will do everything in our power to provide safety to you and your family.

Contact our family law firm online or give us a call at (469) 646-7763 for a case evaluation.

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