How does a protection order protect victims of domestic violence?

Protection orders are a vital part of the escape plan for victims of domestic abuse. Abusers who violate an order may be arrested.

Domestic violence causes a daily nightmare for countless people across the United States, including in Colorado. Many people suffer for years before they are finally ready to leave an abusive relationship. By that time, it may be extremely difficult to escape, especially if there are children. It is possible, however, for victims to get away from their abusers when they involve people who can be trusted, such as police officers, domestic abuse counselors and supportive family members.

What exactly is domestic violence? According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, this occurs when one partner willfully uses intimidation, fear, threats or physical violence to exert control and power over someone else. An abuser is usually an intimate partner in a romantic relationship, although domestic abuse can occur in any type of familial relationship. Physical harm does not have to occur for the relationship to be abusive - emotional and verbal abuse are also forms of domestic violence that can be damaging and traumatizing.

Protection orders may protect victims of domestic abuse

It is especially important to seek protection against abuse if there are children in the marriage. Safe Horizon states that up to 60 percent of the children in the United States who live in abusive households are victims of abuse or neglect themselves. They may face numerous risks to their health and safety, including emotional trauma, frequent illnesses, physical injuries and even death.

What steps should be taken to get victims away from their tormentor and prevent further abuse? According to the Colorado Bar Association, victims can seek a protection order from the court. This document serves the following purposes:

· Documents the reason for the protection order and informs law enforcement

· Informs an abuser that he or she must stay away from the victim

· States specific areas that the abuser must not go, such as the victim's home, work or a friend or family member's home where the victim is staying

· Prohibits the abuser from contacting the victim by phone, email, text message, social media or other avenue

Additionally, a protection order may give the victim a newfound sense of empowerment and courage that can be invaluable in permanently breaking ties with the abuser.

Forming an effective escape plan

Before seeking a protection order, victims should make an escape plan, states The National Domestic Violence Hotline. It may help to inform a trusted person, such as a family member or friend, of the abuse and ask for help. Clothing, documents, emergency money and other important items should be stored in a safe place the abuser won't know about. Victims should document instances of physical abuse to show to law enforcement, such as taking pictures, writing about the events in a journal and getting statements from emergency room doctors, if possible. Just before or immediately after the escape, victims should obtain a protection order.

It is important to understand that protection orders do not guarantee an abusive spouse will stay away from the victim. Instead, they serve as legal protection and evidence against the abuser if the order is violated. Many times, the fear of an arrest will be sufficient to keep an abuser away once the protection order is in effect. A family law attorney with experience in domestic violence may help victims during this important step toward freedom.

Keywords: protection, protect victims, domestic violence, trusted, National Coalition, Colorado Bar Association, Forming, escape plan, abusive, toward freedom, taking pictures.