Have a safety plan BEFORE the next time an incident occurs
It is a god idea to have duplicate copies of financial records at a location other than your residence if you live with the abuser. Also have funds or a credit card, extra car keys, and a change of clothing for you and your children at someone else's house in case you have to leave for your own safety, in a rush or in the middle of the night. If the situation is so extreme that you are prevented by the aggressor from calling the police, it will be helpful if you have this plan in place so that you can get away, and then contact law enforcement, domestic violence resources, and/or a lawyer.
Do not hestitate to contact the police
Frequently victims try to "manage" the abuser. This is the pattern of this relationship, and is a very bad idea. If one party becomes violent, enraged, out of control or frightening to others, the police must be called. This situation only get worse. Police have the ability to help calm and end the situation for everyone's safety!
Ask for a Restraining Order
The police can give you a restraining order, any day of the week, any time of the day, any day of the year. There is a judge on call 24/7. Police can call that judge, describe the situation, and over the phone that judge can issue an order called an Emergency Protective Order, or EPO. That order, if issued may usually last for five (5) days. Just enough time for the victim to get to court to get their own, longer term, restraining order.
The next and longer term order is Domestic Violence, Temporary Restraining Order, issued within the California Law Enforcement Telecommunications System. Also called DV/TRO or CLETS orders. At a hearing which only requires 4 hours or no notice to the aggressor, the order can issue for up to 21 days.
At the hearing after 21 days, the DV/TRO or CLETS order can be issued for up to 5 years.
These orders and remedies are separate and apart from the orders that also may be issues in a criminal matter if the aggressor was arrested.
Get Free Help with your Restraining Order
In Orange County there is a Domestic Violence Assistance Center (DVAC) located in the building of the Lamoreaux Juvenile Justice Center that offers free assistance for those who need to obtain restraining orders. There is also, safe, secure child care inside the building. It is called Childrens Chambers. Your children will be cared for and safe while you do your paperwork to start the process. The phone number for the DVAC is 714/935-7956. They'll help prepare the papers to get the initial 21 day DV/TRO or CLETS order. All of this can be done easily without the assistance and expense of a lawyer. The hearing after 21 days is when the court considers granting a 5 year restraining order. This is more complex. You may want to use that 21 days period to seek the advice of a lawyer. There may be other financial and child custody issues that need to be dealt with at that hearing. Your immediate safety is the concern and goal of the DVAC.
Is Domestic Violence only about violence?
Domestic Violence is not always violence. It is really not about the violence at all. Domestic Violence is a term used to define relationships that follow a very consistent pattern, and it frequently does not involve any physical violence at all. It is about one person in the relationship controlling the other person through any means available. Abusers are generally very charming and persuasive. They always blame the victim for the abuse. The violent episodes are always followed by a honeymoon phase and promises that it will never happen again and things will get better. These relationships are characterized by absolute financial control by the abuser, the victim is isolated from friends and family, the victim is accused frequently of cheating, the victim is demeaned as being worthless, incompetent, ugly, not worthy. Abusers control through intimidation, manipulation, obsessive behavior and constant monitoring of the victim. You can stop the cycle.
The importance of getting help.
Domestic violence is not only not healthy for the victim, is is extremely detrimental to children. Studies have shown that children who have lived in homes where there is abuse, frequently suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Like veterans of war. They have long term effects that stay with them through life. Victims are frequently in denial and think that they are hiding the abuse from their children. This is part of the pattern and the affect on the children is unquestionable. Further, depending on the degree of the abuse, a parent who stays in an abusive relationship risks losing custody of those children for failing to protect them from the violence. The implications of not facing the reality and seriousness of these dysfunctional relationships are serious. Help is available through various shelters listed on the OC Sheriff's website below. Contacting any of these resources is confidential and they take your safety and their secrecy very serious.
Additional resources provided by the author
Laura's House 949-498-1511
Womens Transitional Living Center 714-992-1931
Human Options 949-854-3554