A restraining order is an order issued by the court to prevent the recurrence of acts of violence or abuse by an abuser. These are loosely defined as:
- Intentionally or recklessly causing, or attempting to cause, bodily injury.
- Sexual assault.
- Subjecting a person to reasonable apprehension of imminent serious bodily injury to that person or to another.
- Engaging in any behavior that has been, or could be, enjoined such as molesting, attacking, striking, stalking, threatening, battering, harassing, telephoning, emailing, regular mailing, faxing or destroying personal property, and in general, disturbing the peace of the other party.
The violence or act must be recent and the abuser must be a spouse, ex-spouse, boyfriend/girlfriend, ex-boyfriend/ex-girlfriend, someone with whom the victim has or has had a dating relationship, a family member (mother, father, in-laws, siblings, adult children), or a person with whom a party has a child(ren) together. A civil harassment restraining order (as opposed to a domestic violence order) may have to be filed if the victim does not have the necessary relationship to the abuser.
Either type of restraining order may include the following: restraints on personal conduct by the abuser; orders to stay away from the victim’s home/work and/or children's school; orders to cease emailing or phoning the victim and/or his or her family; orders to be removed from the residence; child custody and visitation and support orders; and other miscellaneous orders. A domestic violence (“DV”) order can be temporary or permanent and last up to five years and such an order is valid and entitled to enforcement in each jurisdiction throughout the 50 states, District of Columbia and all tribal lands. A civil harassment restraining order can last up to three years (?) and is also enforceable in the same states and regions.