If you have survived abuse, stalking, dating violence, or sexual assault, it is important to know that you have rights and strength under the law. If you seek a protective order through the State of Louisiana against your abuser, you may choose to seek assistance with a family lawyer. If there are children involved, a custody lawyer or a child support lawyer may best help you navigate through those avenues. No matter what representation you choose, if any at all, it is important to know that you are your own strongest advocate! When you seek a protective order, you are seeking peace from the abuse, the abuser, and the abusive situation in which you found yourself in. Here are some tips on abuse survivors seeking protective orders in the state of Louisiana:

Who, What, Where, and How? The Details in Obtaining a Protective Order

Getting a protective order against your abuser may seem daunting, especially after all the trauma that you have endured. It may seem like more tedious and stressful steps. However, these crucial steps can lead you, the survivor, to a level of safety that you deserve.

Who?

First, the “Who.” In this case, the protective order would be to keep you, and your family, safe from an abuser, stalker, or sexual predator. Domestic abusers can be a spouse or domestic partner, a family member, or a household member. In the state of Louisiana, you do not need a lawyer in order to obtain this protection order, but if you have one, it would be wise to involve him or her on the details of your case. They can fight for you within the court system and give you the support that you need. Of course, you abuser will also be required to be at the court hearing. However, you can have a victims’ advocate, family member, or close friend accompany you for support.

What?

In the state of Louisiana, domestic violence or abuse is defined as the following as it relates to obtaining a protective order:

  • Physical abuse between family members, household members, or dating partners
  • Sexual abuse between family members, household members, or dating partners
  • Stalking/Cyberstalking between family members, household members, or dating partners

Specifically, the state of Louisiana has an archive of court orders issued to disallow domestic abuse, dating violence, stalking, and sexual assault. This is referred to as the Louisiana Protective Order Registry, or LPOR. The LPOR not only helps the survivors and all minor children, but also law enforcement and prosecutors within the court system and throughout the process of acquiring the protection order. Before issuing the official protective order, a judge may decide that a temporary restraining order is necessary. In this case, the petitioner, or the survivor, is granted the requests from their petition until the date of the court hearing. These can be vital in establishing a safe space for the survivor and their children.

Where?

A survivor should file for the protective order in their home parish, or the parish where the abuse occurred. If your abuser happens to live or be out-of-state when filing for the protection order, if the judge can prove that the abuse happened in Louisiana, your abuser has connections to Louisiana, or if they are served while in Louisiana, the judge will have jurisdiction to provide such orders.

How?

            The paperwork to file for a protection order can be found at the clerk of court’s office in your parish. The paperwork can also be found online on the Clerk of Court’s website or through a local battered women’s program or other like programs in your area. It may seem like a stressful procedure, but it will be worth it for your safety and the safety of any children involved.

Tips on Remaining ‘Safe” Throughout the Process:

After being in an unsafe situation, it is important that you and your children find a safe space, both physical and otherwise. Of course, the physical safety is of utmost importance. Escaping abuse, stalking, or sexual assault is a huge step, and it must be met with some sort of safety plan.

  • Make copies of all important documentation (birth certificates, banking information, vehicle or home documents, family photos, etc) to take with you once you leave
  • Have a bag packed with essentials along with a “game plan” on how to escape, especially it it involves children
  • Decide on a safe space to flee to, whether that be with family, friends, or at a local shelter
  • Have any and all physical trauma assessed at a hospital, as well as having pictures of the physical abuse for documentation
  • Change your phone numbers, locks, and routes that you take to school or work
  • Install security systems where possible
  • When facing you abuser in court, have a police escort you into the court room or a victim advocate, family member, or trusted friend accompany you

Just as important as your physical safety is your mental and emotional safety. These may seem trivial, but they are critical in grasping a sense of safety and normalcy after such tumultuous times.

  • Ask for help from friends or family to have a support system in place
  • Give yourself positive affirmations daily
  • Engage in relaxation or breathing exercises
  • Heal the body through the mind by doing physical activities
  • Consider therapy or counseling
  • Work towards achievable goals
  • Be kind to yourself as you recover

As a survivor, you have gone through some very difficult times. Obtaining that protection order can help bring a small sense of peace in which you and your family can build upon throughout years of betterment. If you feel as though you need help navigating these waters, reach out to Emily Latiolais. She will be there with you and your family as you work through this process of obtaining safety from an abusive situation.

If you would like more information or resources, call the Louisiana Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-888-411-1333. You can also access their website at www.lcadv.org.