• Feb 09, 17
  • Priscilla.Caldwell

How can you protect yourself from domestic violence or sexual assault?

A protective order could help keep you and your family safe from violence. Violating a protective order is a crime; the violator might be put into jail or face a fine. Protective orders are legal documents issued by a judge or magistrate to protect the health and safety of a person who is alleged to be a victim of any act involving violence, force or threat that results in bodily injury or places that person in fear of death, sexual assault or bodily injury. Moreover, it won’t cost you anything to file a protective order.

In Virginia, there are three kinds of protective orders. An Emergency Order would usually expire at the end of the third day following issuance or the next day court is in session, whichever is later. A Preliminary Protective Order would last 15 days or until a full hearing.  A Protective Order (also known as Permanent Protective Order) may last up to 2 years.

An Emergency Order won’t last long for the defendant doesn’t have a chance of hearing. It can be requested orally by a law enforcement officer. A judge or magistrate could issue an order later based on that oral request. If you need a protection after it expires, ask for a Preliminary

Protective Order.

In order to get a Preliminary Order, you should go to the juvenile and domestic relations district court, if you or the person from whom you want protection is a juvenile or a family/household member. Otherwise, go to the general district court.

What to Bring

 You may need to bring the name, address and identifying information of the person from whom you are seeking protection. You may also need a full description of the event that led you to seek a protective order. The address should be the place where the person can be found. You should also bring your copy of the emergency protective order and information about the warrant or petition alleging an act of violence, force or threat, if either was issued. It will usually take the court two hours to finish the filing.

Permanent Protective Orders can only be granted after a full court hearing where both you and the abuser have an opportunity to tell your own sides of the story to a judge.  However, you can file to extend it before your order expires. 

In addition, a protective order won’t take effect until an officer from the court or police department delivers it to the abuser.

Domestic & Sexual Violence Statistics

In the U.S, about 49% of domestic violence crimes recorded by police resulted in an arrest. 96% of domestic violence suspects who were arrested were prosecuted, and 80% of them were convicted. In Virginia, there were 20,718 arrests related with domestic violence in 2012.  Of the charges filed, 26% resulted in convictions.

Domestic violence also includes sexual assault conducted by a family member or intimate partner. Sexual assault is defined as sexual contact without consent and with or without the use or threat of force, regardless of the relationship of the parties. In the U.S, only 13% of the sexual assault cases disclosed in the National Survey of Adolescents were reported to police; 6% to child protective services; 5% to school authorities, and 1.3% to other authorities. In 2010, nationally only 50% of rapes/sexual assaults were reported to law enforcement. Far too few sexual assault cases are resolved by the criminal justice system. Of reported crimes, only about one-quarter led to an arrest. The vast majority of sexual assault victims, then, do not see their offenders brought to justice.

In Virginia, there were 4,771 forcible sex offenses that happened in 2012 which involved  5,903 victims.  There were 1,277 adult and juvenile arrests for sexual offenses including forcible rape, forcible sodomy, sexual assault with an object, forcible fondling, incest, and statutory rape. Of these arrests, fifteen percent were juvenile arrests.