To some abusers, a protective order is just a piece of paper; they do not believe in or care about the consequences of violating it. An abuser’s primary goal is to regain power so you will stay with him and under his control.
An abuser can violate a protective order in any number of ways depending on the specific provisions. For example, if your order prohibits contact and the abuser calls and threatens you, he could be in violation. Some abusers, in keeping with the cycle of domestic violence, may try to win you back with apologies, gifts and nice behavior after an order has been issued. It is important to take the time to think carefully about the history of abuse and what is best for you and your children before making a decision to go back to your abuser.
Violating a protective order is a serious red flag that your abuser will not stay away and may intend to continue harming you. Remember, a woman is at high risk of escalating violence by an intimate partner when she attempts to end the abusive relationship.
If an abuser violates the protective order he faces legal repercussions such as a finding of civil contempt, criminal contempt, and/or criminal prosecution with potential for jail time and/or a fine.
The process for reporting and accountability varies by state, but as a general rule, if an abuser violates your protective order, you should consider reporting the violation to a law enforcement authority like your local police or commissioner, and notify the court in writing of the violation, including your name, the name of your abuser, and your protective order case number. Once notified, the court will most likely set a hearing date for you to testify; the abuser will be expected to appear at his violation hearing or suffer additional legal repercussions. If your abuser is an immigrant, there may be immigration-related consequences to reporting protection order violations and pursuing criminal charges.
IF YOU ARE IN IMMEDIATE DANGER, CALL 911!
To learn more about protective orders in your state, and violating protective orders, visit WomensLaw.org and scroll down to your state.
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