Daniel A. Lewis| Family Law Attorney & Victims Advocate
Domestic violence is never ok and it appears that, as of today, powerful organizations like the NFL may finally be catching on.
In North Carolina, victims of domestic violence (DV) can pursue civil protective orders against their aggressors by filing a Complaint and Motion for Domestic Violence Protective Order. A protective order is a restraining order that prevents the other person from contacting you and your children, coming to your home or work, and potentially other restrictions, like forcing the other person to surrender any guns in his/her possession. Victims will need to show that one of the following acts of DV occurred:
- Attempting or intentionally causing bodily injury
- Placing you or a member of your family / household in fear of imminent serious bodily injury or continued harassment that rises to such a level as to inflict substantial emotional distress
- Committing a sexual offense, like rape
It is obviously easier to prove DV occurred with police reports, hospital records and photographs. But for those acts which place victims in fear of imminent serious bodily injury or continued harassment, oftentimes there are no broken bones and bruises to tell the story of abuse. In those cases, the court applies a subjective test, and not an objective or neutral test, when evaluating whether DV took place. Victims will need to show the judge how the act in question made them feel. If you can show that one of the above acts occurred, then you will be entitled to a protective order.
While bringing a case for a DV Protective Order is never easy and can be emotionally difficult, you do not have to do it alone. Also, remember that even if you are successful and obtain a DV Protective Order against your aggressor, a court order is only a piece of paper. Even though violations of these orders are Class A1 misdemeanors, this criminal penalty may not stop an aggressor. Create a safety plan in case you need to escape from further abuse. Keep copies of your court order on you, in your house and in your car in case you need to show it to the police. And always report violations to the police.
For resources on domestic violence, please visit the Safe Alliance website at www.safealliance.org or call the Mecklenburg County Domestic Violence Crisis Line at 704.332.2513.
Dan Lewis is a family law attorney in Charlotte, NC. He represents clients in litigation, mediation and the Collaborative Law process. Mr. Lewis handles a variety of cases involving separation and divorce, complex child custody issues, equitable distribution of assets and debts and other family law related matters. He also volunteers with the Safe Alliance Legal Representation Project, helping domestic violence victims obtain protective orders.