Options’ Domestic Violence Program
If you or someone you know is a victim of domestic violence, you are not alone. No one deserves to be abused. The abuse will get worse over time. Your physical safety and the safety of your children are at risk. Love doesn’t hurt. Options will be here for you when you need to leave. You have the right to a violence-free life. Safety Plan If you are scared of your partner or if you are a victim of domestic violence, Options encourages you to make a safety plan for yourself and your children.
Have the following items hidden in a place where your partner cannot find them:
- A change of clothes for you and your children
- $50 in cash, or as much as you can set aside
- A cell phone, or change for a pay phone
- Keys to your house and car
- Important documents: check book, social security numbers for you and your children, health insurance card, driver’s license or other identification.
- Bring a picture of your abuser, along with your abuser’s birth date and workplace.
DON’T TELL ANYONE WHERE YOU ARE GOING!
Domestic Violence Are you afraid of your partner? Do you think you might be a victim of domestic violence? The questions below may help you see risk signs of domestic violence.
Does someone you love:
- Criticize, humiliate or shout at you?
- Threaten to harm you with a weapon?
- Accuse you of being unfaithful?
- Hit, shake or push you?
- Demand sex?
- Keep you from working?
- Control where you go and what you do?
- Take your car keys or your money?
- Hurt your pets or destroy your property?
- Hurt or threaten your children?
No one should live in fear or violence. You deserve to live in peace.
What is Domestic Violence?
Domestic violence centers on an abuser’s desire to exert power and control over a victim. Abuse is a tool that abusers use to intimidate and control a victim. Domestic violence can take many forms. It can be violent, sexual, economic, psychological, emotional, or verbal. Regardless of the form of abuse, no one deserves to live with it. No one should be made to live in a hostile or violent home.
Court Advocacy Domestic violence often occurs in dangerous cycles of abuse. The most perilous moment for a victim in this cycle of violence is when she leaves. Leaving requires great strength of the victim, and takes reciprocal power away from the abuser. This loss of power and control incites marked volatility in abusers, who believe that they are entitled to abuse their families. An abuser is most likely to murder his victim after she leaves him.
Options seeks to protect victims of domestic and sexual violence by helping them obtain Domestic Violence Protection Orders, a civil order granted by the court system. Domestic Violence Protection Orders (commonly known as “restraining orders”) send official signals to law enforcement and the legal system that a victim’s life is endangered by her enraged abuser. It is also an order of no contact, including face-to-face, over the phone, over the internet, or through the post. An abuser that violates a Domestic Violence Protection Order faces criminal charges.
Domestic violence Court Advocacy is central to Options’ mission and vision. domestic violence is a crime. Victims of domestic violence must be protected and the perpetrators must be held accountable. The legal system supports victims of domestic violence through the Domestic Violence Protection Order, which protects victims by forbidding an abuser to make any contact.
The Domestic Violence Protection order is also called the Civil 50-B. Although Options does not employ a lawyer, we offer Court Advocacy to assist victims of domestic violence with certain legal issues. The Court Advocate educates clients on their legal rights and options, attends both civil and criminal court four days a week, answers questions, and explains complicated court proceedings to clients. The Court Advocate stands beside clients in the courtroom during proceedings to provide moral support during the intimidating legal process. Court Advocacy is a free service to victims of domestic violence. An important step in the process of building a violence-free life is for victims to file a Domestic Violence Protection Order and follow through with all legal motions. Not all victims choose to file a Domestic Violence Protection order.
A victim may be referred to Options’ court advocacy program by a law enforcement organization, a hospital, the Civil Clerk of Court’s office, Legal Aid, or self-referrals. Options’ court advocate also seeks out clients by looking daily in the 25th District civil court docket for charges of Assault on a Female, the court system’s official charge for domestic violence. Options’ court advocate explains the legal processes of filing a Domestic Violence Protection Order and of pressing criminal charges, if applicable. Filling out the paperwork for a Domestic Violence Protection Order is the first step in the legal process. This is often one of the most difficult steps in leaving an abusive relationship as victims struggle to recount bouts of violence, including dates, times, and number of occurrences.
The court advocate answers any questions the victims have about filling out the paperwork necessary to file for a Domestic Violence Protection Order, and encourages clients to report all relevant information to the court. The next step is to present the paperwork to a judge for review. Options’ court advocate presents the document requesting a Domestic Violence Protection Order to a 25th District Judge. An emergency ex parte Domestic Violence Protection Order may be granted for a period of no more than seven days, during which time the client will have to return to court for a hearing to decide whether to grant a year-long Domestic Violence Protection Order. At this hearing, the client must testify in the presence of her abuser, and the abuser has the right to respond to charges.
The legal system can be confusing and intimidating to victims that have not had much experience in the court room, and court advocacy empowers families with knowledge and emotional support. Testifying in the presence of an abuser is difficult and emotional for clients. If a judge grants the emergency Domestic Violence Protection Order, the court advocate accompanies the client to court for the hearing on granting a year-long Domestic Violence Protection Order. Unfortunately, a lawyer and does not have resources to pay a client’s legal fees. If a victim also has criminal charges pending against her, she will be appointed an attorney by the court system. However, Options cannot assist victims with divorce or child custody. In cases of severe child abuse, Options refers clients to North Carolina Legal Aid for legal services in filing for sole child custody.