Effectiveness of Order

Published 12:00 am Friday, January 23, 2004

LIVING FREE with Liz Johnson

By Inez Kerth

In last week’s column the concept of a protective order was addressed. To-day’s column will explore the effectiveness of that order.

When one is being abused the first advice that is given is, “Get a protective order!” When a murder results from a domestic violence situation, the first question that is addressed by the media is whether the victim had obtained a protective order.

It is often heard that a protective order is only a piece of paper and cannot prevent domestic violence. A protective order is not a bulletproof vest or a 24-hour guard. What a protective order does is make the perpetrator of the abuse aware that his behavior is not going to be tolerated. It should serve as a deterrent to the abuser and this will occur if it is enforced properly by both law enforcement and the judicial system. The effectiveness of a protective order depends in a large part on those whose duty it is to enforce and administer them.

The victim can also aid in the effectiveness of the order by calling law enforcement if the order is being violated, because violation of this order is a crime. If the victim does not receive relief through the criminal justice system, he/she can file for contempt of a protective order in the civil courts. It is important that the violation is reported because if it is not, the abuser will believe that the victim is not really serious and that he/she can get away with such behavior.

If any form of violence occurs after the issuance of a protective order, it does not mean that the order was useless. The order will be part of a legal paper trail documenting the violence in the relationship. Its existence will contribute to proving prior violence and could be helpful in such things as obtaining custody for the victim.

One must remember that a protective order is only one part of the “safety plan” and only one tool to be used to keep safe and escape domestic violence. No one thing can guarantee safety at all times. But a protective order which is used in conjunction with such things as counseling, children’s counseling, do-mestic violence shelters and legal services can increase the victim’s safety and that of the children.

Living Free Ministries

Liz Johnson

P. O. Box 2815

Reserve, La. 70084

(985) 652-9938