When in doubt, get out. Call 911 for police protection and medical help. If you are calling from a cell phone, you must tell the dispatcher your street address.
What the police can do
The police must:
The police can also:
What the courts can do
If you have been the victim of a domestic violence offense, you can go to court for an Order of Protection.
An "Order of Protection," sometimes called a "Restraining Order," is an order from either the Family, Criminal, or Supreme Court that orders an abuser to stop committing offenses against you. You have the right to request the court include your children.
Find out in advance how the courts work. Very briefly:
Even if there is a case against your abuser in Criminal Court, you can still go to Family Court. You can choose Family Court if the person who harmed or threatened you is:
You can go to Criminal Court no matter what the relationship is between you and your abuser. If you are already in the process of divorce in Supreme Court, your Supreme Court Justice can issue you an order of protection.
This is a civil court and can issue Orders of Protection. Family Court also deals with custody, support, and visitation. Initially the Family Court issues a Temporary Order of Protection. The Order becomes effective only when it is served to the abuser by the police or anyone over the age of 18. You cannot serve the order. Then, a date is set for you and your abuser to return to court. If your abuser admits to the allegations, or consents to abide by the Temporary Order, it will become "permanent." If your abuser denies the allegations, a date will be set for a "fact finding hearing" which is like a trial. If the court finds that your abuser did what you said, your order of protection will be made "permanent."
"Permanent" doesn't mean that the Order of Protection will last forever. "Permanent" usually means that the order will last for a fixed amount of time, usually three to five years.
There are three Family Courts: New Rochelle, White Plains and Yonkers. Those in White Plains and Yonkers have Family Court Legal Programs staffed by lawyers and advocates to help women who are abused by their partners. They can help you understand your legal options, prepare your petition and accompany you to court (Phone numbers on back page.)
If the District Attorney brings a criminal case against your abuser on the basis of a police report (called a Domestic Incident Report or "DIR" or a criminal complaint) describing violence against you, you may receive a Temporary Order of Protection from the court. It will come by mail. If you do not receive one, or if you want to find out the status of the case against your abuser, call the Domestic Violence and Child Abuse Bureau in the Special Prosecution Division of the Westchester County District Attorney's Office. (Phone numbers on back page.)
If your abuser is convicted of the offense against you, the Temporary Order of Protection can be made "Permanent." (Again, "Permanent" does not mean "forever.") Your abuser will have a criminal record.
Orders of Protection
An Order of Protection can be tailored to meet your needs. Most of them order the abuser not to "harass, assault, or threaten" you. Depending on the seriousness of the offense, they may also order the abuser to:
The Family Court can also grant you temporary custody of your children. If you are no longer living with your abuser, you can request that the court keep your present address confidential.
Please remember - an Order of Protection is only as effective as three things: