How can the law help me if I'm battered?

If you are in immediate danger, call 911.  If you have children, they too, could be at risk.  When the police arrive, explain what happened.  The officers can contact an on-call judicial officer and issue you an Emergency Protective Order (EPRO) on the spot.  This legally prohibits the batterer from coming within a certain distance of you.  It also may grant you temporary custody of your children.  To obtain an EPRO, there must be an "immediate and present" danger that you and/or your child will suffer domestic violence, or that your child will be abducted by a relative.  The EPRO will remain in effect for five court days or seven calendar days.

To obtain a longer-term restraining order, you must file for a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO).  Go to your local family law or superior court and request an application for a TRO.  (See "Can I get help filling out court papers?")  You also can request that a local law enforcement agency officially notify - "serve" the order on - the batterer free of charge.  The TRO will go into effect as soon as it has been signed by the judge and personally delivered to the batterer.  You, however, cannot be the one who officially serves the order; a law enforcement officer or other adult (not named in the order) must serve it.

After filing for the TRO, you must return to court on the date shown on the court papers for a hearing.  At that hearing, you may request that the TRO be made "permanent," which means that it will be good for up to three years and can be renewed.  Such restraining orders usually require the batterer to stay at least 100 yards - the length of a football field - away from you and have not contact with you.