Domestic Violence and Restraining Orders

Have you been the victim of domestic violence or stalking?

Although there are many definitions of domestic violence used by the public, laws and agencies, almost all include forms of physical injury/abuse, sexual abuse or assault, intimidation, verbal abuse and emotional abuse or threats of these actions. Simply put, domestic violence involves hurting, threatening to hurt, putting down or making someone afraid.  When done by a current or ex spouse, boyfriend/girlfriend, or date, this behavior is called “intimate partner violence.”

Sadly, intimate partner violence and domestic violence are widespread regardless of culture, age, socio-economic class, sexual orientations or faith. In fact, domestic violence remains a serious problem in Oregon, with nearly one-third (31%) of women aged 20-55 surveyed in 2004 reporting that they had experienced one or more types of violent victimization — including threats of violence, physical assaults, sexual assaults, or stalking.[1] Children also are affected by intimate partner violence (IPV), witnessing 33% of intimate partner physical assaults and 20% of intimate partner sexual assaults. Id. Men too can be victims of intimate partner violence although they are six times less likely to be abused by their past or current intimate partners than are women.[2] The elderly and disabled are especially vulnerable to violence perpetrated by family members or caregivers.

Oregon law addressing domestic violence provide safety for victims and accountability of batterers. For example, victims of abuse may qualify for protective orders or, if a protective order is not in place, certain protections from law enforcement. The following laws provide relief for victims of Domestic Violence and stalking:

  • the Family Abuse Prevention Act (FAPA), ORS 107.700–107.732;
  • Domestic relations laws regarding divorce, separation, annulment, filiation, and custody for unmarried parents, ORS 107.095(1)(c)–(d)
  • the Elder and Disabled Person Abuse Prevention Act (EDPAPA), ORS 124.005–124.040;
  • Stalking laws, ORS 30.866, 163.730–163.750. (protective orders and damages are available for victims of repeated and unwanted contact of the victim or his/her family that causes them to be alarmed or coerced by a reasonable fear for their personal safety or that of their family or household)
  • Oregon employment law provides substantial protections for employees who are victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking including protection from job discrimination based on their status as a victim, reasonable workplace safety accommodations reasonable leave from work to address safety–related matters.

 

Contact me to secure relief if you are the victim of domestic violence.  Please review the following additional materials regarding your safety:

  1. safety planning
    1. Are you being hurt by someone you love? http://dhsforms.hr.state.or.us/Forms/Served/DE7808.pdf
    2. What do you need to be safe? http://dhsforms.hr.state.or.us/Forms/Served/DE1540.pdf
  2. organizations
    1. Oregon Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence http://www.ocadsv.com/1 (800) 622-3782 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting   
    2. Jackson County Community Works – Dunn House Outreach
    3. Josephine County Illinois Valley Safe House Alliance  and Women’s Crisis Support Team/Talsunne Safe Shelter

     

Have false allegations of domestic violence threatened you reputation or safety?

As strange as it sounds, the very laws designed to help victims, sometimes hurt them. After I spent over a year as a lead attorney in a specialized felony domestic violence court, I realized the potential for abuse of the domestic violence system.  Often, perpetrators of domestic violence would twist the system by accusing their victims of domestic violence.  On the theory that “that the best defense is a good offense, “ batterers accused the victims to neutralize any claims they feared their victims would make against them.  In addition, I have seen parties to family law cases make allegations of domestic violence to try to gain an advantage in a divorce proceeding as relates to custody or property settlements.

Such tactics do great harm not only in the instant case but by eroding the seriousness of domestic violence claims of those truly and desperately in need of protection. To get a protective order, one must only complete and sign a petition “under oath” or “penalty of perjury.” The petition is given “ex parte” (in the absence of the accused and without their notice) to a judge who will enter the order if certain necessary allegations are made.  There is no trial or requirement of further evidence before the initial order is entered. While this ex parte process protects victims of abuse, it also allows for victimization just described. Although the accused eventually may have a hearing as he/she is entitled to one by law, some damage is already done.  Upon entry of the ex part order, certain things occur immediately that can have lasting impact even if a hearing results in the dismissal of the restraining order.  In addition to embarrassment and reputation damage, a true victim falsely accused of domestic violence could be silenced by the belief that no one would now believe her.  In addition, a domestic violence victim falsely accused may be less able to defend herself as the entry of an ex parte order contains a finding of probable cause that impacts the ability to carry firearms.  Finally, a domestic violence or stalking order can impact other pending cases as relates to child custody, living arrangements and job status. If the orders become

There are ways in which you can protect yourself if you have been falsely accused of domestic violence or stalking.  Not only are you entitled to a hearing to challenge the initial entry of the ex parte order, for which you can take discovery and otherwise prepare, but you may be able to terminate orders that were previously entered after hearing. You may seek attorneys fees if the court finds that the order was frivolous. Contact me for a consultation to see how you can mitigate the impact of a domestic violence or stalking order.

 


[1] “Know the Facts About Domestic Violence 2010,” Oregon Department of Human Services.

[2] “Violence by Intimates: Analysis of Data on Crimes by Current or Former Spouses, Boyfriends, and Girlfriends” (1998), U.S. Department of Justice Bureau of Statistics

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