A Primer on Restraining Orders

Before I say anything, I want to be clear that I am not a lawyer and nothing in this post should be considered any sort of legal advice. That said, I know a little bit about restraining orders and what they are and aren’t good for and I thought I might write a bit about it.

What Restraining Orders Won’t Do

First and most importantly, restraining orders aren’t going to protect you from outright psychotics. People who want to cause you serious harm aren’t likely to be dissuaded by a piece of paper telling him (or her) to stay away from you. The best thing to do there is hide, arm yourself, or contact the police if they manage to do anything illegal.

Secondly, if you’re looking for something to keep someone from contacting you, except when you contact them, restraining orders won’t help you. Restraining orders clearly state that no contact is allowed. If you get a restraining order against someone and then you call and invite them over, they are violating the restraining order. Restraining orders aren’t for dealing with people on your own terms. They’re for no longer having to deal with people at all.

What Restraining Orders Do

Some people don’t get the hint and won’t leave you alone. They’ll harass you with texts, phone calls, and emails. They may threaten you. They may just refuse to go away. If you’ve tried everything else, then perhaps a restraining order might help.

The best thing that a restraining order does is put a final nail in the coffin of a relationship. Sometimes you know it’s over and your formerly significant other refuses to believe it. A restraining order says it’s over in a big way. This isn’t for just someone who wants you back. It’s for the kind or person who wants you, no one else, and/or doesn’t want anyone else to have you. Ever. It’s for that person you’ll likely refer to as ‘my crazy ex’ when you tell stories about them later.

What a restraining order does is restrict any form of contact directly or through others. Technically if you see the other person and you feel fearful, they’ve just violated the restraining order. It makes it illegal for this person to contact you for a certain amount of time.

What To Do If You’re Served With A Restraining Order

Not everyone who gets served with a restraining order is a violent sociopath. Paranoid people will often request restraining orders and get them. It just depends on the circumstances. So let’s say you’ve been served with a restraining order. Not good, but you can deal with it. Here’s how.

Assuming you’re not going to talk to a lawyer (which you probably should), when you go to the hearing, ask that the restraining order be made mutual. This means that you’ve effectively got one against them too. This eliminates the possibility of the situation described above where you’re invited over and then you’ve violated the restraining order. Making the restraining order mutual is just common sense, but it’s something you have to ask for.

Georgia Gunzer

Georgia Gunzer was killed almost a week ago. She had asked for a restraining order and was denied. She felt the only thing to do at that point was try to get along with the guy. Unfortunately, it was this decision that would allow her killer access to her. If the restraining order had been in place, would Georgia Gunzer be alive today? Maybe. I don’t know. I’m not sure if her killer was the sort to take a hint or perhaps he would have gone after her anyway. Regardless of whether or not it would have stopped her death, it’s very clear that she should have been able to get the restraining order. If only because it’s the safer thing to do.

If you have someone in your life who won’t leave you alone and might be dangerous to you or your family, you should probably look at getting a restraining order. It might not stop everyone, but it makes it that much harder for them to get to you.

 

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Vacation

If you take a look at the people who snapped and shot up their workplace, I’d be willing to bet that not too many of them recently had a vacation. It’s important to get away sometimes. If only to retain what’s left of one’s sanity.
 
I’m not leaving town for another week, but I’m going to stop updating my site as of today. I’ll be back in mid-April.
-Jack

Can You Hear Me Major Tom?

This morning the space shuttle Discovery launched into space and didn’t blow up. Of course the Columbia didn’t blow up until reentry so that doesn’t mean much. I have been a big fan of the space program since I was a little kid, but as I’ve grown older I’ve been more a fan of the concept of the space program than NASA itself.

I realize that since there are no terrorists in space there’s no real money being spent on the space program, but at some point they need to realize that going into space with a vehicle older than my car is a bad idea.

If we’re going to continue going into space we need to spend some serious time and money on it and not just fix up the old clunkers we still have in the garage. We need to actually start doing things again and I mean more than a quick stop at a space station, a handful of satellite launches and a couple of science experiments. Let’s actually become explorers again. We went to the moon almost forty years ago. You’d think by now we might have at the very least gone back or sent more than a radio-controlled car to Mars.

But instead we are still using outdated and dangerous technology and risking lives of astronauts for no real reason except to say we’re still sending people into space. It’s like being a cop and not wearing a bulletproof vest simply because you’ve never been shot.

There was a time when I wanted to be an astronaut, but now I just feel sorry for them. They’re no longer adventurers. They’re more the equivalent of daredevils, risking life and limb needlessly, but without the benefit of an audience that appreciates them. The sad thing is that when another shuttle explodes (and really it’s just a matter of time), there’s a good chance that those in power will just decide that space is too expensive and dangerous. When the truth is it’s where we’re supposed to go. We’ve climbed the tallest mountains and flown to the moon. Gene Roddenberry was right when he called it the Final Frontier. But as any climber will tell you, you’re only as good as your equipment.

I hope Discovery returns in twelve days with a picture-perfect mission, but like playing Russian Roulette, just because it didn’t go bang this time doesn’t mean it won’t next time.

-Jack