Restraining Order

What You Need to Know About Filing a Domestic Violence Restraining Order

What You Need to Know About Filing a Domestic Violence Restraining Order

Filing a Domestic Violence Restraining Order

Knowing your rights and feeling prepared is an essential part of filing a domestic violence restraining order. Click here to find out more.

Keyword(s): domestic violence restraining order


Every minute, 24 people become victims of domestic violence by an intimate partner.

Nearly half of all women and men in their lifetime have experienced some type of physical aggression from by an intimate partner.

It's scary when it happens to you. Domestic violence leaves many people feeling vulnerable, alone, and terrified.

But that's when it's imperative to take action by filing a domestic violence restraining order. Here's how.

Understand the Definition of Abuse

There are three forms of abuse for which one can obtain a domestic violence restraining order. They are sexual, physical, and emotional abuse.

Under the law in South Carolina, domestic abuse is defined as abuse that causes physical harm, bodily injury, assault or the threat of physical harm, or a sexual offense.

Signs of Abuse

When it comes to abuse, part of the problem is that many of its victims don't realize they are actually victims.

Here are a few signs that you're in an abusive relationship. If you recognize these signs, it's time to get help and file for a domestic violence restraining order.

  • You're afraid of your partner
  • They shout at or humiliate you
  • Threaten to hurt or kill you or themselves
  • Forces you to have sex
  • Limits your access to family and friends

Feelings of shame can often prevent victims of domestic violence to reach out for the help they so desperately deserve.

They often feel they "deserve" to be treated terribly or that it's their fault their partner is behaving violently.

None of this is true. Please get help immediately.

Who Can File a Domestic Violence Restraining Order

In order to obtain a domestic violence restraining order, one or more of these acts must have been committed by the following.

1. Your husband or wife or former spouse

2. The parent of your child

3. A person of the opposite sex with whom you live with or used to live with

However, if you have been abused but don't fit into one of the above categories, you can still get help. It just may mean that you'll need to file for a restraining order in magistrate court.

Factors That Keep Many Abuse Victims from Taking Action

Besides feeling ashamed or embarrassed, often those victims who should be obtaining a domestic violence restraining order don't.

There are many misconceptions when it comes to domestic violence.

Victims often feel their abusive partner can change. However, the violence is due to emotional and psychological problems.

Until the perpetrator is willing to get help and take full responsibility for their actions and behavior, it will not stop.

Many victims believe they have the power to get their abusive partners to stop. Perhaps if they do everything for them.

This is caretaking, not helping. It won't stop the abuse.

It's also not your responsibility. Your responsibility is to care for yourself. Often, that means getting a domestic violence restraining order.

Victims often fear retaliation if they leave. If you believe that, find a safe house and call the police immediately.

Where to Get a Restraining Order

In order to get a domestic violence restraining order, you have to file for an Order of Protection in the Family Court.

However, there are regulations for which county you can legally obtain a restraining order in.

You may obtain one in the country where the alleged act happened.

You can also get one in the county where the petitioner lives. However, if the petitioner lives in another state, you can only file here but the case will need to be heard in another qualifying county.

The county where the alleged abuser lives with the exception if the abuser lives in another state.

You may also file in the county where both you and the alleged abuser last lived together.

How You'll Be Protected

A domestic violence restraining order will help protect you.

The alleged abuser will no longer be able to abuse, threaten to abuse, or even bother you.

They won't be allowed to contact you or communicate with you in any place the judge places in the order.

If you have children, you'll be granted custody of the kids you share with the abuser. The judge can either grant or deny visitation rights to your alleged abuser.

If you share pets or a car, you may ask for special permission to have them remain with you.

Whatever the judge decides, no matter what, your abuser must still pay child support for any children you have together.

You'll retain the right to stay in your home. Your alleged abuser must leave the premises.

They won't be allowed to destroy any personal property that either belongs to you or you share together. They also won't be able to sell or transfer any property that doesn't outright belong to them alone.

If the abuser needs to visit the shared home to gather their things, a judge may order a police presence while they are doing so. If you choose to leave the home but need to gather your belongings, a police presence may be granted for your safety.

Fees may be awarded to either person in the case that an attorney was used.

How to Get an Order of Protection

Your best bet for successfully retaining all your rights and being fully protected is to hire a lawyer. They can walk you through the process of obtaining a domestic violence restraining order.

Hiring a lawyer is also a wise idea for anyone who has a domestic violence restraining order placed against them. They can help you protect your rights.

In some cases, there may be a financial difficulty and you don't believe you can afford a lawyer. Should that happen, go to the Family Court Clerk of Court in one of the counties you can legally file.

Ask the Clerk for the appropriate forms and file a domestic violence restraining order right there. There is no fee to file.

Some counties also provide pro bono services. They can help you fill out the forms but be aware they cannot represent you during the hearing.

Once the proper paperwork has been filed, the judge schedules a hearing. Sometimes they're held as quickly as 24 hours. That happens upon request if the judge believes an emergency exists.

At the hearing, you and your lawyer must prove by providing evidence that your alleged abuser did, in fact, commit a crime of domestic violence.

Don't Wait

No one deserves to be abused. The longer you wait, the worse it may get.

Don't wait. Contact us today.

Columbia, SC