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Oregon Abuse Prevention
Protecting Yourself Against Domestic Violence
Every person has a right to be safe in their home. No one has the right to abuse you. If you are a victim of domestic violence, there are several laws that have been enacted to protect you, to allow you to feel safe at home, school, or work. They can also help to protect your children from being hurt or abducted. The laws include stalking orders or restraining orders as well as the criminal laws.

If you are in immediate danger of violence, call 9-1 -1. Police are required to arrest abusers if they see or believe that you have been assaulted, or if you were placed in fear of immediate bodily harm. You do not need a restraining order for the police to arrest the abuser, if there is evidence of assault or fear of immediate bodily harm.

In addition, if you have been threatened or abused and fear further abuse, you can seek a restraining order. In addition to seeking a restraining order, you should give some thought or planning to additional ways of protecting yourself and handling emergencies. Some strategies you may want to pursue include changing the locks on your doors, securing your windows, and leaving outside lights on. If you are comfortable doing so, ask your neighbors to call the police if they hear suspicious noises or if they see the other party in your neighborhood or around your home.

You may want to find a friend or family member who will be available in the event of an emergency to pick you up and allow you to spend the night. Ask co-workers to screen your calls, to keep an eye out for your abuser, and find a person to walk you to and from your car or bus.

Put important things like medical records, birth certificates, identification cards, ATM or credit cards, checkbooks, keys, medications, welfare identification, and any other important items together in a safe place, so you can take them with you if you need to leave in a hurry. You should have copies of these in another place, in the event you cannot get these when you do leave in an emergency.

Try to establish several difference routes to work or school. You may want to change your phone number and have it unlisted, and you may want to obtain caller I.D. services. If you need to contact your abuser, you can block your phone number from a receiver's caller I.D. by dialing Star sixty-seven on a touch-tone phone, or one-one-six-seven on a rotary phone.

Talk to utility companies, the post office, your bank, welfare, social security, and support enforcement division, other business, friends and families to ensure that your address is confidential. If you seek a restraining order, keep your address is confidential, but make sure the court has a reliable way to reach you.

You should do as many or all of these things as you think are necessary to ensure you and your children's safety. You may want to take other actions, such as obtaining counseling for yourself or your children, or joining support groups for abuse victims, to help you address the issues raised by the abuse. If you have been injured or need assistance obtaining a restraining order, you should obtain professional legal advice.

Restraining Orders
Every person has a right to be safe in their home. No one has the right to abuse you. If you are a victim of domestic violence, there are several laws that have been enacted to protect you.

If the threat of violence is immediate, call 911 now. Oregon law requires that if an officer has probable cause to believe that a person has been battered, they must make an arrest on the spot.

In addition, you can get a restraining against the abuser. A restraining order is an order from a judge that tells the person who abused you that they cannot hurt you anymore and must leave you alone. To get a restraining order, you must go to the courthouse of the county in which you or the abuser lives. You can complete the forms on your own. In most counties, the court clerk or a volunteer may be available to assist you, or you can seek the assistance of an attorney.

In order to qualify for a restraining order you must have or had one of the following relationships with your abuser: Number one, are married or have been sexually intimate, Number two, are an adult related by blood, marriage or adoption; Number three, have or are now cohabiting with the abuser, or Number four, you and the abuser are the unmarried parents of a minor child. If you have satisfied the relationship requirement, you will also need to show that some form of abuse or threat of abuse occurred within the last six months. You must also be in fear of future abuse.

In the petition for the restraining order, you may indicate locations you want the abuser to stay away from, including your home and work. You can also request temporary custody of your children and ask that restrictions on visitation of mutual children be imposed. Custody provisions are only allowed when you and the other party are the children's biological parents and the father's paternity has been established.

You may have a hearing before a judge the day or within a few days after you apply for the restraining order. You may attend in person or by phone. The judge must believe that you have been abused or that you are in immediate and present danger of further abuse. You must give the judge enough information so he or she can make that determination. It is not necessary to have an attorney at the hearing, but you should consider having an attorney with you if the abuser has an attorney, or if child custody is one of the issues in dispute. Whether you are representing yourself or have an attorney, if you do not appear at this hearing, the judge will dismiss the restraining order.

Once a judge issues a restraining order, it must be personally delivered, or served, on the other party before it is effective. The sheriffs office is responsible for serving the order.

You should keep a copy of the restraining order on your person at all times. If an abuser violates any part of the order, the abuser is in contempt of court and can be punished by being sent to jail, paying a fine, or both. If an abuser violates the restraining order, the police are required to arrest him or her.

Restraining orders last one year and may be renewed if you reasonably believe you are danger of further abuse.

Stalking Orders
Every person has a right to be safe. You may wish to consider seeking a stalking protective order. This may be useful if you do not meet the relationship or time requirements for a restraining order.

You can obtain a stalking protective order if someone has engaged in repeated and unwanted contact that alarms or coerces you or members of your immediate family or household, which causes you to fear for your personal safety. A stalking order may be obtained by contacting a local law enforcement agency or your county courthouse. The officer can serve the stalker with a citation, ordering that person to appear in court to show why a stalking order should not be issued. The Department of State Police have developed a form for a stalking complaint.

A stalking order is permanent. It should describe the conduct that is prohibited to the stalker, such as following you, waiting outside your home, school, workplace or other places. The stalking order also prevents the stalker from communicating with third parties in a manner that negatively affects you. Like a restraining order, if the stalker violates the order, the police must arrest him or her.

In the stalking complaint, you can seek an order preventing the stalker from continued unwanted contact. The court will have a hearing and require you and the stalker to appear, to decide whether an order should issue. You do not have to appear in person, but can talk to the court by telephone. If you want to appear by telephone, you should contact the court clerk prior to the scheduled hearing.

You do not need an attorney or to pay court fees to seek a stalking protective order, but attorney representation is permitted. You may want to seek professional legal advice about obtaining a stalking order or conducting yourself at a stalking order hearing.

Resources & Contacts
In the last few years, much attention has been focused on domestic violence. As a result, the number of resources to help families has grown.

You should always call nine-one-one if there is an immediate threat of violence. Other resources in the Portland metropolitan area include the Portland Police Domestic Violence Reduction Unit at 823-1961 The Portland Women's Crisis Line has referrals for counseling and support groups and can also help women and children find immediate emergency shelter. Their number is 235-5333, and their toll-free number is 1-888-235-5333, if you are outside the Portland metro area.

Other resources you may want to contact include women's shelters, Adult and Family Services, child abuse reporting hodines, United Way information and referral, Batterers Intervention Project and the Men's Resource Center.

Legal services include information at your local courthouse, your local district attorney's domestic violence prosecutors, and the victims' assistance program.

If you are attempting to defend a restraining order or are contemplating one, you should obtain professional legal advice.

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