Safety when having the protection order served
The abuser, or "respondent" must be hand delivered or "served" a copy of the paperwork you fill out to obtain the protection order, including the Temporary Order for Protection and Notice of Hearing and the Petition for Order for Protection. This may be the first time that the respondent becomes aware that you filed an order with the court and that you have shared details about the domestic violence. The time when a respondent is served with a protection order can be dangerous for you. There are different ways to have the respondent served and you will want to choose the way that you think will be safest for you. Most orders are served by the police but having someone else serve the respondent may be safer for you. Consider the following questions as you decide how to have the respondent served.
- Where and how should the order be served?
- Would it be dangerous for you if a police officer showed up at the respondent’s home or workplace? Would this make you more or less safe? Some police agencies send officers who are not in uniform to serve orders but other agencies use uniformed officers.
- Do you have a friend or family member who is 18 or older and who could safely serve the respondent? Some people choose to have respondents served this way. Others feel having the police serve the order sends a stronger message. What would be safest and most effective in your situation?
- Do you live with the respondent? If so, you may want to be away from the home when the order is served. If you must be home, be sure to be in a room where you can get out quickly. Have a cell phone with you in case things become dangerous and you need to call 911. If possible take steps to secure your home and consider changing your locks once the order has been served.
- Once you obtain your temporary order, you may want to contact your local police or Sheriff’s department to find out if they will respond to a 911 call specifically to have an order served and the respondent vacated from your home.
- Do you have children with the respondent? If so, you may want to figure out a way to ensure that your children do not witness their parent being served with the order or being removed from the home.