Requesting a civil protection order has benefits and risks. Your risk may increase if:
- Your abuser is dangerous. Abusers are often more dangerous during the legal case. You may have increased risk if your abuser:
- Seriously injured you,
- Threatened to hurt or kill you
- Strangled or "choked" you
- Stalked you
- Hurt or killed pets
- Suffers from a mental health issue
- Abuses alcohol or drugs
- Has guns or other weapons
- You have children. If the court decides to consider or grant parenting time, visitation or custody, getting a protection order is complicated. You may face risks like losing custody. Some advocates are mandatory reporters. Mandatory reporters have to call children’s services if they learn a child is in danger. Before telling your story, always ask if the advocate is a mandatory reporter.
- You have an active legal case. If you have an active, undecided legal case (like a custody case about your children) getting a protection order is complicated and risky. You should talk to a lawyer.
- There is a current criminal case involving the same action or actions that led you to seek the civil protection order. Filing for a civil protection order while there is a pending criminal case could have serious consequences. For example, the civil protection order could cancel the criminal protection order, the defendant can use the civil case to get evidence to use against you in the criminal case, or vice versa, or you could end up with no protection order at all. You should talk to a lawyer.
- You are an immigrant. If you are an immigrant, requesting a protection order is complicated—regardless of your immigration status. You should talk to a lawyer.
A protection order may not be the safest option for you. Talking to a lawyer or advocate can help you fully understand the risks you are facing.