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.