I am afraid of my boyfriend. We just moved in together last month, and ever since then, he has been shouting and cursing at me. He also pushed me down and punched a wall. I want to break up with him, but I am afraid he will hurt me. Can the law help protect me?

Anonymous in Midtown

I am sorry to hear about your situation! If you feel in are in immediate danger, call 911!

California’s Domestic Violence Protection Act defines domestic violence as abuse toward an intimate partner or family member. The abuse can range from verbal threats, annoying telephone calls, stalking, hitting, and destruction of personal property. If you ever have to call the police, ask for an emergency protective order. A police officer that answers a domestic violence call can ask a judge for an emergency protective order at any time of the day or night. Explain in detail to the police officer why you’re afraid. The emergency protective order starts immediately and can last a week. The judge can order the abusive person to leave the home and stay away from you and your children for up to a week.

If you want protection for more than a week, you can ask to the family court to issue a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO). If the restraining order is granted, it typically requires the abuser to stay at least 100 yards away from you, and have no contact with you, including no email or telephone contact.

The Sacramento family court offers a free workshop on form preparation fro domestic violence restraining orders, Monday and Friday, excluding court holidays, at 8:45 a.m. This class is for both men and women and is held in the Self-Help Computer Room, Room 113A, on the first floor of the William R. Ridgeway Family Relations Courthouse, 3341 Power Inn Road. No appointment is necessary. For those who cannot attend the workshop, the court encourages you to complete your forms using TurboCourt. This program uses simple questions to gather all of the necessary information to apply for a domestic violence restraining order. If you will be filing in Sacramento, be sure to include the mandatory local forms.

You may want to contact WEAVE, INC. (Women Escaping a Violent Environment). WEAVE is a local nonprofit organization that was created to serve domestic violence survivors and their families in Sacramento County by offering counseling and other services including; dissolution & restraining order workshops, and a pro bono legal clinic or free attorney consultation for domestic violence.

Keep in mind that a restraining order can help protect you, but it is still just a piece of paper. A restraining order can lower, but not eliminate the risk of ongoing violence.

Do you have a question for the County Law Librarian? Just email sacpress@saclaw.org. If your question is selected your answer will appear in next Thursday’s column. Even if your question isn’t selected, though, I will still respond within two weeks.

Coral Henning, Director
@coralh & @saclawlibrarian