Many of us generally know what a restraining order is. Civil courts issue them, legally forbidding contact between two people. Restraining orders are powerful tools for protecting victims of abuse.
If you need protection from someone, you are probably wondering what, exactly, a restraining order will do for you.
In this article, we will take a broad look at the protections you could receive from a restraining order in Iowa.
Types of Restraining Orders Available in Iowa
Domestic abuse orders help protect people from abusive relatives, intimate partners, or housemates.
Workplace restraining orders are for workers threatened by workplace violence or harassment
Civil harassment orders protect individuals from unwanted behavior by non-relatives like neighbors or acquaintances.
How to Obtain a Restraining Order in Iowa
Reasons to seek a restraining order include:
- Domestic violence
- Violence or threats of violence from non-relatives
- Harassment – this could include in-person or online harassment
To start the process, you should visit the courthouse in the county where the abuse is taking place, and request a petition for a protective order.
You must fill out the petition, providing specific details about the person harassing you. Include specific incidents of abuse or harassment.
After submitting the petition to the court, a judge will review your case, and they may issue a temporary restraining order.
To receive a longer-lasting order, you must attend a court hearing. Both you and the accused will have an opportunity to present your cases, and the judge will decide whether to grant a final restraining order.
In urgent situations, you can receive an emergency restraining order. Call the police if you are under an immediate threat, and they can help fast-track a temporary restraining order for you.
Protections a Restraining Order Can Provide in Iowa
Orders can prohibit an abuser from contacting or coming near their victim. Often, they require an abuser to stay away from the victim's home, place of work, school, or other places the victim frequents. For example, an order could include the victim’s local grocery store.
Financial and Property Protection
A restraining order in Iowa can prevent an abuser from accessing joint bank accounts and credit cards. It could block them from selling or transferring property without the victim's consent. If the abuser pays for the victim’s rent, utilities, cellphone data, or other necessities, the order can force the abuser to keep making these payments. Furthermore, protection orders may require an abuser to provide support payments or pay restitution for property damage.
A protective order can block any form of communication, including email or social media. It can even restrict an abuser’s ability to find their victim’s location. Restraining orders can also apply to any children the abuser and victim share, even if the children did not directly experience abuse.
The Limitations of a Restraining Order
Abusers can still violate them. The police are normally quick to help out and enforce the order, but it could still take them a little while to respond. Even with an order in place, victims must take the necessary precautions to ensure their safety. Always have a plan in case of an emergency.
Also, keep in mind that restraining orders have less severe penalties than directly violent acts. For instance, the restraining order will specifically say that the abuser cannot harm the victim. If an abuser breaks the order and attacks their victim, the police can quickly charge them for violating the order. The penalty, however, may be minor, and it will take time for the police to put together a separate case for assault, domestic violence, sexual battery, etc.
Ultimately, restraining orders add an extra layer of protection. They send a strong message to abusers, and police can act on them quickly. Remember that a restraining order is not, however, a foolproof solution.
Staying Safe After Your Abuser Receives a Restraining Order
- Seek emotional support from family, friends, or a therapist.
- Consider changing your locks and adding security cameras to your home.
- Always have a copy of the restraining order with you in case of emergency.
- Document any violations of the restraining order and report them to the police immediately.
- Have a support system in place. Make sure you have people in place who are on-call to help when you need it.
- Vary your daily routine to avoid predictable patterns, minimizing your risk of encountering your abuser.
If you need help, The Law Offices of Mark R. Hinshaw, PLC could help you file a restraining order right away. Call our office at (515) 200-7571 orcontact us online for assistance.