Steps to Safety After a PPO

Many survivors of abusive partners file for a personal protection order, or PPO. Issued by a civil court, a PPO forbids a person from doing something, such as contacting you, coming on to your property or harassing you at work. It allows the survivor to press charges should their abuser not obey the order.

While this piece of paper alone cannot guarantee stalking behavior will end (roughly half of PPOs are violated by the abuser), it can still be important to get one. Should an abuser violate the order, they can face fines or jail time. However, a PPO should be a part of a larger safety plan. WomensLaw.org offers some safety strategies for that are smart for anyone escaping an abusive situation to follow.

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How to Get a Personal Protection Order

Protection orders, sometimes referred to as restraining orders and injunctions, are available to those experiencing domestic violence as one safety tool. A protection order forbids and attempts to restrain a perpetrator from doing something, such as contacting you, threatening you, entering your property, going to your place of work, residence or any other place know to be frequent by you.

There are different ways in which these orders can be obtained. For instance, a victim of domestic violence can request a protection order from civil court for free, even if there has never been a criminal charge against the abuser. Usually in order to qualify for a domestic violence protection order, the person you wish to have restrained must have engaged in some of the following behaviors: harassment, stalking, physical violence or threats of physical violence.

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Empowering Survivors: Why domestic violence advocates say the best way to help survivors is to give them back control

Abusers control. That’s their No. 1 tactic to keep domestic abuse survivors simultaneously afraid of them and yet reluctant to leave them. Be it controlling a survivor’s ability to go places, hold a job or access money, see friends or family, keep their children, what sexual decisions to make, or, by using some other form of mental control to make the victim feel dependent on their abuser, they are all tricks of the abuser trade.

That’s why, when a survivor decides it’s time to speak out about his or her situation and get help, the last thing they need is someone else telling them what to do.

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‘I’m Being Abused in Another Country’

Mom-of-three Paula Lucas, an American citizen, was living a nightmare overseas in the United Arab Emirates. Though she had a seemingly perfect life to the outside world, at home, she endured daily violence at the hands of her American husband. The abuse continued for 14 years until she sought help. But being in another country, she didn’t know where to turn for help.

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Arm Yourself with Information

Escaping and recovering from violence, including domestic violence and sexual assault, means you first need to understand what’s happening or what has happened to you. It’s an emotional and confusing time, and you have questions. Is what’s happening considered domestic violence? Was it rape if I’m married to him? Is it really my fault? Is it too late to press charges? What will happen if he’s arrested?

There are hotlines you can call to answer any and all questions you have, like the National Domestic Violence Hotline800-799-SAFE (7233). But, if you’re not ready to talk to a real, live person yet, for any reason, you can still find answers to your questions thanks to a plethora of resources online created just for survivors of violence.

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