If you are having a problem with a romantic partner, spouse, family member, coworker or anyone else who will just not leave you alone, you may get a lot of advice from the people you know. They may say things like, “you should talk to the police” or “you should take out a restraining order.” They may not even really be able to answer the question, “what is a restraining order?” but they will think you should get one. The sad fact of the matter is that it can be a lot harder than just being harassed or feel threatened by someone to get law enforcement and the courts to do something to protect you.
Here are some tips that might make the process easier:
- Filing for a restraining order may make things worse at first. Many people who stalk or harass other really are either in some sort of denial about what they are doing or they may suffer from some sort or mental illness that makes them not see it. You can tell them to leave you alone and they will deny that they are doing anything wrong. If you look up the domestic violence statistics, you will see lots of that. When this person gets wind of your plans, they may intensify the stalking or harassment. You may ask yourself, “what is a restraining order if it cannot help stop this?”
- Do as much research into the process as you can. Every state has different laws on this. To make matters more complicated the process, rules and regulations governing this kind of thing differ from state to state as well. In the course of your research, you may even find that you have options that you did not know you had. YOu may want to talk to local attorneys about your options in this area.
- Go to domestic violence centers and other help centers. They may not be able to give you official legal advice but they can help you with the sea of forms that you are going to have to file.
- Go to restraining order hearings. You may not really be able to answer that question, “what is a restraining order?” yourself until you go into court and see what people are asking for. Different states make you prove different things. Going in and seeing the kinds of questions that are asked. You might get to see the judge who will decide your case if you are lucky. Then you will get a better sense of that person and the kinds of things they are looking for before they grant or ok a restraining order.
- Consider hiring a family law attorney. The decision to find an attorney to help you get a restraining order. When you watch other hearings, think about how you will feel when it is your turn. Would having a lawyer by your side help?
- Pick a lawyer you can trust. If you go that route, make sure you choose a family lawyer you can talk to. One thing that may help your case is to tell the court how scared and upset the person has made you. For many states, the definition of harassment includes how the person has made you feel. You should be very honest about what the harassment has done to you. If it has left you feeling scared, intimidated, alarmed, vulnerable, whatever. This may sound cheesy but they need to really understand how this has impacted your life.
- You will be asked a lot of questions. At the beginning of the process your question may have been, “what is a restraining order?” now, you will have to answer why you want one, how you think it will help, what has happened that is making you upset, why it upset you or scared you, what you are afraid will happen if you do not get a restraining order and on and on. If the person sends you anything such as as email, text, letter, Facebook message, anything at all, print it and save it to show the court.
This is a scary and stressful experience so cut yourself some slack and be good to yourself.