Thursday, March 6, 2014

Protective Orders

Six years ago when Melanie married Jake, she never imagined that one day he would hold her hand on the burning stove until she had 3rd degree burns. She never dreamed that he would beat her in front of their 5 year old daughter. She never thought she would be a victim of domestic violence and would require a protection order. The daily tortures that she was receiving became her reality and she was scared. Scared of the unknown, scared because she did not know where to turn, scared because she felt her world was closing in on her and she felt like she suffocating.

Like Melanie, one in four women have been subject to domestic violence. Many of these women find the courage and strength to go through the protection order process. On the other hand, many of these women are intimidated by the legal system or do not have the information they need to obtain a protection order.  These women need to feel empowered and receive the appropriate help they so deserve. By allowing these victims to obtain a protection order early from their predators, the problem may be resolved before it reaches the next level.

A protection order can protect these women who have suffered from domestic violence by ordering the abuser to stay away from them. There are three locations where victims can apply for a protection order: Superior Court, District Court, and Municipal Court. These victims can obtain protection order forms form the Clerk’s office or from the Protection Order Advocates Office.

The person who requests a protective order is known as the petitioner, the other person is known as the respondent. In Utah, a protective order can do many varying things, for instance it can order the respondent to not harm the petitioner, the petitioner’s children or anyone else who may live with the petitioner. It can also order the respondents to stay away from the petitioners home, job, vehicle, school and not to contact or harass the petitioner in any way, shape or form. It may also order the respondent to not have any guns or other weapons, order temporary custody, support for the children, or parent-time, order temporary spousal support if those filing are married and order the children to be removed from Utah.

Although Melanie’s story has a violent beginning, it has a happy ending. Melanie was able to receive the help she deserved and is no longer a victim of domestic violence. Today, Melanie and her daughter are adjusting to their new life full of hope, safety, and happiness. They are also grateful they left behind the fear and uncertainty their future once held.

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