Domestic violence, harassment, stalking, and other forms of abuse can have a devastating impact on a person’s life. In Pierce County, Washington, victims of such abuse have the option to seek protection through a civil protection order under RCW 7.105. But does obtaining a civil protection order truly ensure a person’s safety? Let’s explore this question and delve into what a person should do to protect themselves after filing their civil protection order petition in Tacoma, Washington.
A civil protection order, also known as a restraining order, is a legal order issued by a court that aims to protect a victim from further harm or abuse. In Pierce County, Washington, civil protection orders are governed by RCW 7.105, which outlines the legal requirements and procedures for obtaining such an order. A person can file a civil protection order petition at the Tacoma-Pierce County Courthouse or through the Washington State Courts website.
To obtain a civil protection order in Pierce County, the petitioner (the person seeking the order) must demonstrate that they are a victim of domestic violence, harassment, stalking, or other types of abuse as defined by RCW 7.105. The petitioner must provide evidence of the abuse, such as police reports, witness statements, medical records, or other relevant documentation, and present their case to a judge. If the judge finds that the petitioner has met the legal requirements, they may grant a temporary order for protection, which is valid for 14 days, and schedule a hearing for a permanent order.
Obtaining a civil protection order can provide immediate relief to victims of abuse. It can order the abuser to stay away from the petitioner’s home, workplace, school, or other specified locations, prohibit contact or communication with the petitioner, and grant other forms of relief as deemed necessary by the court. Violating a civil protection order can result in serious legal consequences for the abuser, including arrest and criminal charges.
However, it’s important to note that obtaining a civil protection order is not a guarantee of safety. An abuser may choose to ignore the order and continue to engage in abusive behavior. Therefore, it’s crucial for a person who has obtained a civil protection order to take additional steps to protect themselves and ensure their safety.
First and foremost, a person should always prioritize their safety and that of any dependents. If there is an immediate threat of harm, the person should call 911 or the local law enforcement agency. It’s also important to have a safety plan in place, which may include identifying safe places to go, notifying trusted family and friends, and having a bag with essential items ready to grab in case of an emergency.
Additionally, a person should always keep a copy of the civil protection order with them and provide copies to local law enforcement, trusted family and friends, and their workplace or school. They should also document any violations of the order, such as unwanted contact or communication from the abuser, and report it to the police immediately. Keeping a journal of all incidents of abuse, including dates, times, and details, can also serve as valuable evidence in case of legal proceedings. Most importantly is the violations are reported so that the perpetrator does not continue to violate the order.
In Pierce County, Washington, victims of domestic violence, harassment, stalking, or other forms of abuse can seek additional support from local advocacy organizations, such as the Crystal Judson Family Justice Center, which provides free legal assistance, counseling, and other resources to survivors of abuse. These organizations can help victims navigate the legal process, connect them with community resources, and provide emotional support during a difficult time.
It’s also crucial for a person who has obtained a civil protection order to regularly review and update their safety plan, and seek legal advice from an experienced attorney who has experience working with domestic violence victims.
At Whalley Law we have represented many victims. We understand facing your abuser is never easy, but in order to break the cycle of abuse, it is paramount to take the step to file a protection order. Make sure you hire a strong advocate to provide you the protection you deserve. Stand up today, give us a call to see how to get started.