Getting an Order of Protection
There are many steps you can take to protect your safety during or after an abusive relationship. You may wish to apply for a Civil Protection Order (CPO). If the judge agrees with your petition, a Temporary Protection Order (TPO) will be immediately issued. A TPO is valid up to 14 days and is used to allow time for the abuser to be served before the CPO hearing. In emergency situations and outside normal court hours an Emergency Temporary Protection Order (ETPO) can be issued. This order last for 5 days and must be initiated through a process between the police officer and an advocate from Survivors and Advocates for Empowerment (SAFE).
What is a Civil Protection Order?
A civil protection order is a court order issued by a judge, lasting up to one year, designed to provide you with long-term protection from an abuser. The CPO orders your abuser to stop abusing and/or threatening you, to stay away from you, not to contact you in any way, and provide other forms of relief that you need to be safe.
Who can get one?
You can get a CPO if you have been physically hurt, sexually assaulted, threatened, stalked, or had property destroyed by a person to whom you are related by blood, adoption, marriage, domestic partnership, have a child in common, share or have shared the same home, have or previously had a dating relationship (it does not need to be a sexual relationship) or from a person who had one of the above relationships with your current domestic partner. You must live or work in DC and at least one incident must have occurred in DC to seek protection from the DC Court. However, the order will protect you in all states.
When do I file for a CPO?
As soon as possible after the abuse occurs, go to the Domestic Violence Intake Center at DC Superior Court, Room 4235, 500 Indiana Avenue, NW, Washington, DC, or the Satellite Domestic Violence Intake Center located inside of the United Medical Center at 1328 Southern Avenue, SE, Suite 311. You can file up to two years after the incident, but a delay in filing may make the judge less likely to believe you. The process of filing for a CPO can take several hours, so make sure you leave plenty of time to arrive at the court before it closes at 4 pm.
Remember, a CPO cannot make the abuse stop. Nonetheless, it is an important step to take because it helps legally document your experience. If you get a CPO, make sure you think about other steps you can take to plan for your safety. The next section will give you suggestions to do so.
For additional domestic violence information:
Domestic Violence Unit
300 Indiana Avenue, NW, Room 3156
Phone: (202) 727-7137
Fax: (202) 727-6491