What is the difference between a Restraining Order and a Protection order?
Though its name can vary state-to-state, a Protection Order (also referred to as a Civil Protection Order, Stay Away Order, and a Protection from Abuse Order) requires your abuser to do or refrain from doing certain actions. Protection orders are part of the civil justice process. Most commonly, protection orders require the abuser to stay away from a victim, their home, their work, or other places the victim regularly visits and may also be used to request reliefs such as child support, temporary custody, or relinquishment of firearms. It is important to remember that some states will allow victims to customize their requests based on their needs.
Generally, the main difference between restraining orders and protection orders is the relationship between the two parties. Protection orders sometimes require that a domestic relationship exist (e.g. spouse, romantic or sexual relationships, blood relatives, roommates) rather than the parties being strangers or neighbors. If there is no qualifying domestic relationship between the parties, victims may be advised to file for a Restraining Order.
How do I file for a Protection Order?
Victims can file for a protective order on their own, but it may be helpful to seek help from a victim advocate. Victim advocates work through local domestic violence or crisis centers and can help victims find out if they are eligible to file a protection order, assist with filling out the paperwork, and can also serve as a guide throughout the process. To find agencies that might be able to assist with these services, please visit our VictimConnect Resource Map or contact the VictimConnect Resource Center by phone at 1-855-4-VICTIM or by chat. You can also visit RAINN’s provider search tool and enter the zip code of the location where you are trying to locate services.
Tips for Enforcing a Protective Order:
- Keep a copy of your protective order with you at all times.
- Keep the original copy of your protective order somewhere safe.
- Make sure that you review and fully understand your protective order.
- If you have children, provide a copy for your child’s school.
- If you would like any changes to your protective order, visit the clerk at your local court.
- Read “Enforcement of Protective Orders” by the U.S. Department of Justice for a better understanding of how to enforce your protective order.
What if I am ready to leave my abuser or I am worried about my safety after filing for my order?
For more information regarding safety planning, please visit our Safety Planning page.
Visit our VictimConnect Resource Map for additional resources or contact the VictimConnect Resource Center by phone or text at 1-855-4-VICTIM or by chat for more information about Restraining and Protection Orders.