If domestic violence is affecting your living situation, you cannot allow it to continue. You deserve to feel safe in your home, and if someone is making you feel unsafe or otherwise harming you, that individual needs to be held accountable. It sometimes takes domestic violence victims a length amount of time to come to the conclusion that they need to act, but the moment they do, they need to act with a plan in mind. This plan should emphasize both safety for themselves and justice for their abuser. While it may be emotionally taxing, it’s absolutely necessary.

Make Trusted Individuals Aware of the Situation

Talking about domestic violence is often difficult for victims, particularly when psychological components of the abuse make the victim feel as though they’re responsible for the harmful acts they’ve experienced. If someone you know and trust can help you facilitate a safe exit strategy or act as a witness to the things you’ve experienced, let them know you’re planning to remove yourself from the situation. Let them know in detail what your plans are, where you intend to be, and when you intend to be there. Tell them to contact law enforcement if they don’t hear from you when they expect to.

Come Up With a Safe Exit Strategy

Many domestic violence victims prefer to exit their situation when the individual creating the hostile environment isn’t home. It makes the exit feel safer and smoother. Pick a day to safely get away with your most precious belongings. If you can’t schedule or arrange an opportunity, you may need to privately and discretely call the police to have them remove the abuser from the situation. Even if they can’t due to lack of immediate evidence, they can still be present to assure your safety while you leave.

Notify Law Enforcement

If no one else has contacted law enforcement on your behalf, you’ll need to do it yourself. Your abuser is going to wonder where you went, and if you don’t have law enforcement intervene, this person may attempt to look for you. Act before they have the chance. Law enforcement might want to sit down and discuss specifics with you, and when that happens, be ready to provide them with the answers they need. They can help arrange and emergency order of protection to prevent your abuser from reaching out to you until a legal verdict has been reached.

Prepare Your Evidence

If you have photos or other documentation relating to your domestic violence case, prepare these things for the police. There is no need for you to hire a lawyer if the charges you’re pursuing are strictly criminal. If you would like to move forward with civil charges (such as destruction of property by the person accused of domestic violence), you might want to contact a lawyer. You might be able to find free advice on the internet, but make sure the lawyer you’re researching is versed with the laws that apply to you. Australian states have different laws and limitations than US states or UK countries.

Get the Support You Need

The healing process is important for your continued wellness. The sooner you pursue this process, the better off you’ll be. Finding a counselor or mental health professional immediately may help you maintain composure and begin healing while a criminal case is still being pursued. Since you’ll need to recount your experience often, getting help early is likely the best choice.

Time is of the essence in situations involving domestic violence. When you move to liberate yourself, you’re reclaiming your life, your health, and your freedom. If you or someone you know is living with domestic violence, act immediately.

Lucy Taylor is an avid blogger who enjoys sharing her tips and suggestions with her online readers. Working as a legal expert at LY Lawyers, Lucy often helps people dealing with legal problems, addictions and crime.


The Maryland Legislature, effective October 1, 2016, expanded  the definition of “Abuse” covered by domestic violence Peace Orders to also include the following acts:  

  • (ix) Malicious destruction of property under 6-301 of the Criminal Law Article;
  • (x) Misuse of telephone facilities and equipment under 3-804 of the Criminal Law Article;
  • (xi) Misuse of electronic communication or interactive computer service under 3-805 of the Criminal Law Article;
  • (xii) Revenge porn under 3-809 of the Criminal Law Article; or
  • (xiii) Visual surveillance under 3-901, § 3-902, or § 3-903 of the Criminal Law Article.

These are in addition to the other acts included in my prior article on Maryland Peace Orders.

In the District of Columbia, if the court grants your Motion for TRO, the order is usually valid for up to ten (10) days. But the judge may extend that time briefly. If the judge issues a temporary restraining order, the judge will set a date for a hearing on a preliminary injunction as soon as possible.

Judges issue preliminary injunctions only after a hearing in which the other side has a right to be present.  One or both sides may have to call witnesses to testify under oath.

At the hearing, you have to persuade the judge that:

(1) there is a substantial likelihood that you will prevail in your case,

(2) you will suffer irreparable harm if you do not get a preliminary injunction,

(3) there will be more harm to you if the judge denies the preliminary injunction request than to the other party if the judge grants it; and

(4) the public interest will not be injured by the injunction.

You do not have to seek or get a temporary restraining order to apply for a preliminary injunction. The court may also require you to provide some sort of “security,” usually in the form of a payment “for such costs and damages as may be incurred or suffered by any party who is found to have been wrongfully enjoined or restrained.”

Need to File a Temporary Restraining Order in the District of Columbia?

In the District of Columbia, you file a Petition for a Restraining Order at the Superior Court of the District of Columbia, Civil Actions Branch, 500 Indiana Avenue, N.W. Washington, DC 2001, 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. If you proceed at this point Pro-Se (without representation of counsel) you would complete a Motion Form (available at the Civil Actions Branch Office) for a “Temporary Restraining Order”.

Scheduling Your Temporary Restraining Order Hearing

Upon filing of your motion, the Civil Actions Branch will provide you or your attorney with a Summons and Notice of Hearing (with a specific date and time) that must then be served upon the Defendant. This may be served by anyone over 18 years of age, except you, because you are a party to the action.

The court will set a hearing on your motion for a TRO at a specific date and time. Even if you request an emergency hearing on the same date that you file your Motion for TRO or shortly thereafter, the court will most likely not grant the hearing at the time requested unless (1) you have provided the Defendant notice of such hearing (that the court finds satisfactory), (2) the Defendant appears at court for the hearing and (3) the Defendant consents to the hearing.

In domestic violence cases in the District of Columbia, when the abuser is someone who is or has NOT been related to you somehow or a member of your household, you file for a “Restraining Order”.

You would specifically file a Motion for Temporary Restraining Order (“TRO”) or Motion for Temporary and Preliminary Injunction and a Request for Emergency Hearing. However, you may apply for a Preliminary Injunction without first obtaining or seeking a TRO.

Victims of stalking, sexual assault, or sexual abuse are exempted from having to follow the above process for a Restraining Order and may proceed under the Intrafamily Offense/Domestic Violence Branch Process  even if they are NOT related to or in the same household as the abuser.

In a Final Protective Order in the District of Columbia, a judge can order any of the relief available in a Temporary Protective Order, and can also:

  • Establish temporary visitation with children.
  • Award emergency family maintenance.
  • Award use and possession of jointly titled car.
  • Order counseling.
  • Order the abuser to surrender all firearms.
  • Order the abuser to pay filing fees and court costs.
  • Order any other relief that the judge determines is necessary to protect a person eligible for relief from abuse

In order to grant you a Final Protective Order, the Court must find that you have met your burden by a “preponderance of the evidence.”

To obtain a Protective Order in the District of Columbia complete a “Petition And Affidavit for Civil for Protective Order” .  You file it with the Superior Court of the District of Columbia, Domestic Violence Unit, 500 Indiana Avenue, N.W. Washington, DC 2001, 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. However, if the court is closed the only location where you can file for a Temporary Protective Order is the Seventh District D.C. Metropolitan Police Station on Alabama Avenue, N.W.

The hearing for the Temporary Protective Order is “ex parte”, meaning that the court can grant you a Temporary Protective Order without the Respondent being present. The Temporary Protective Order, Notice of Hearing and Order to Appear are then served upon the Respondent, free of charge, by the D.C. Metropolitan Police.   If the person lives in Maryland or Virginia, service may also be free as part of an agreement between Washington, D.C. and the sheriff departments in the surrounding areas of Maryland and Virginia.

The Temporary Protective Order issed by the Court will contain a date and time, fourteen (14 days later) on which you and the Respondent must show for an evidentiary hearing to determine if you qualify for a Final Protective Order.

In the District of Columbia, a Temporary Protective Order can order that the abuser:

  • Stop abusing you.
  • Stay away from you and to not try to contact you or harass you at your home, school, job, or the place where you may be staying, stay away from your child’s school, and from your family members’ homes.
  • Stay out of your house.
  • Leave the home where the two of you live, if you are married to the abuser, AND you were living with your abuser at the time of the abuse.
  • Leave the home if you are not married to the abuser, but were living with the abuser at the time of the abuse, AND your name is on the lease or deed for the house, OR you lived with the abuser.
  • The judge can also give you temporary custody of any children that you have with the abuser.
  • The judge can award temporary possession of any pet of the person eligible for relief or the respondent

To obtain a protective order in DC,  you must show that the respondent committed an “intrafamily offense” against you. An intra family offense is essentially any crime as defined under the D.C. Code. This is a broad list of crimes; however, the most applicable or common ones are the following:

  • Assault
  • An act that places a person in fear of imminent serious bodily harm
  • An act that causes serious bodily harm
  • Threats to do bodily harm
  • Threats to kidnap or injure a person or to damage his/her property
  • Rape or sexual offense
  • Attempted rape or sexual offense
  • Stalking
  • False imprisonment, such as interference with freedom, physically keeping you from leaving your home or kidnapping you.

If you are in Domestic partnership in DC, you have rights if you experience domestic abuse. You are eligible for a Civil Protection Order in Washington, DC if the alleged abuser is your current or former:

  • Spouse or domestic partner
  • Intimate or dating partner
  • Relative (by blood or marriage, domestic partnership, or adoption)
  • Housemate
  • Parent of a child of yours
  • Or is someone who is or was in a relationship with someone who you are or were in a relationship with.

But even if you are not in such a relationship, you may qualify for a Protective Order, if you are the victim of any of the following intra-family offenses: stalking, sexual assault, or sexual abuse.