Restraining Orders, Domestic Violence, and Sexual Assault
by Christopher J. Bergstrom (with contribution from Myah Kehoe)
Too many people find themselves either in a family situation or a relationship where violence occurs. The emotional and physical trauma in these situations is very real and should never be taken lightly.
Setting aside the legal implications regarding this issue, it is important to recognize that domestic violence and sexual assault occur in all types of families and relationships. Abusers and survivors are as diverse as our society. It is important that the survivors, friends, co-workers and family members know what resources are available to survivors, legally and otherwise.
Restraining Orders – A Brief Overview
In Oregon, one of the main legal remedies available to survivors is the Family Abuse Prevention Act Restraining Order (“restraining order”). At its most basic, a restraining order is designed to protect survivors and their children from their abuser. In application, this can mean that the abuser be required to leave the home and provide survivors with emergency monetary support.
Restraining orders are specific in providing protection from the following abusers:
· A spouse or former spouse; or
· An adult related to you by blood, marriage, or adoption; or
· A partner, of the same or opposite sex, you are living with, or have lived with; or
· A person, of the same or opposite sex, with whom you have been in a sexually intimate relationship within the past two years; or
· The other parent of your minor child(ren).
The person you get a restraining order against will be called the Respondent and you will from then on be called the Petitioner.
The statute requires that the following type of abuse occur within 180 days of filing for the order. The person must have:
1. Physically hurt you or attempted to do the same; or
2. Threatened or otherwise made you feel afraid of physical harm; or
3. Forced sexual relations against your wishes through force or threats of the same.
In addition, the statute also requires that a petitioner feel in danger of further abuse.
Some courthouses in Oregon have volunteers on hand to assist people in filing for a restraining order. In Multnomah County, for example, these volunteers are from Volunteers of America and are available Monday through Friday from about 10 am until the restraining order applications are due at 12:45 pm. However, it is important to realize that these individuals cannot give legal advice; their job is to simply help with making sure people know how to fill out the paperwork. It is not necessary to hire an attorney in order to obtain a restraining order, but it might be helpful, especially if you have a child with an abuser or are seeking a divorce.
It is also important to realize that restraining order applications are only available at certain times of day. In Multnomah County, for example, you must have your application completed and into the hands of a court official by 12:45 pm, Monday through Friday. You have at least an hour’s worth of paperwork to complete, so make sure you are in the courthouse no later than 11 or 11:30 am. You will see a Judge at 1:30 that same afternoon, so be prepared.
Non-legal Resources and Information
Unfortunately the legal system is not perfect. It can only provide remedies for certain issues. Our practice recognizes that there is a gap in what we as attorneys can do for client survivors and what is needed to for survivors to function in daily life.
We subscribe to the notion that survivors should be empowered to free themselves from oppressive and abusive relationships. The following organizations and resources are recommended with this aim in mind:
Domestic Violence – General Assistance with Information and Resources
Portland Women’s Crisis Line:
Crisis line: 1.888.235.5335
National Domestic Violence Hotline:
Domestic violence referrals throughout the United States
www.NDVH.ORG or 800.799.SAFE (7233)
Child Abuse Reporting Hotline:
Reporting line for all child abuse in the state of Oregon.
Domestic Violence – Shelters
Bradley Angle House:
Columbia County Women’s Resource Center:
503.397.6161 or 877.397.6161
DVRC Monika’s House:
360.695.2655 or 800.695.0167