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Restraining orders can help stop domestic abuse

It takes a lot of strength and courage to reach out for help when living with someone who manipulates and abuses others. But there is a way to put an end to this abuse. Wisconsinites can obtain a domestic abuse restraining order to protect themselves, their family, and their future.

How can a restraining order help me?

Wisconsin law defines domestic abuse as:

  • Physical harm of a spouse or family member
  • Sexual assault or abuse
  • Stalking or threatening physical harm

A domestic abuse restraining order is a court order that protects someone who has experienced domestic abuse and violence like this in their home. It requires an abuser to:

  • Stay away from the individual who petitioned the order
  • Move out of the house, even if they share ownership
  • Avoid contacting the individual at any time
  • Cease harassment at their home or place of work
  • Attend counseling

Obtaining a restraining order provides legal protection against further abuse.

How can I obtain a restraining order? 

There are generally two steps to obtain a restraining order:

  1. Petition for a temporary order: When someone first contacts their local court to obtain a restraining order, the court will issue a temporary order. This order accomplishes the same goals as listed above, but it is only in effect for 14 days, or until the injunction hearing.
  2. Attend the injunction hearing: At the hearing, the local judge will hear statements and testimonies of why the petitioner qualifies for a restraining order. It is painful to relive past trauma and abuse, but it is often necessary for individuals seeking a restraining order to explain the abuse they endured. It is also helpful to provide evidence, such as written and dated accounts and photographs of the injuries.

After the testimony, the court might establish a final order for protection, which lasts four years.

How is the restraining order enforced?

The court enforces this order, and there are several penalties for violating it, including:

  • Holding the abuser in contempt of court
  • Requiring them to pay damages
  • Filing criminal charges against them

If the individual threatens or attempts an assault, then it is a crime, and the police can arrest the individual and file their violation of the order.

Important Note: It can be difficult and frightening to get out of a situation of domestic violence. If you feel that you and your family are in danger, call 911. The National Domestic Violence Hotline (262) 205-0705 can also provide you with the help you need to keep you and your family safe.