Every relationship has its share of difficult moments. However, for some, arguments and fights with their significant other can turn violent. Worse, some relationships can devolve into a persistent cycle of abuse, typically with one partner directing the majority of their abuse against the other. This can not only be damaging to the ongoing physical and mental health of the abuse victim, but may very well threaten their life: many abusive relationships eventually result in intimate partner homicide, often after years of abuse.

Because of the significant danger which those who have been victims of domestic violence (PDF) may find themselves in, states have formulated laws to help ensure that there are legal safeguards in place to help prevent this type of tragedy from occurring.

Ex parte orders, sometimes known as temporary restraining orders, can be obtained as an immediate safeguard against harm. Though the assistance of a knowledgeable domestic violence lawyer may be necessary, filing for and obtaining an ex parte order is typically fairly straightforward and easily accomplished if there is evidence of the individual being directly threatened by their spouse or significant other.

For more permanent protection, victims of domestic abuse can file for orders of protection, also known simply as restraining orders. Like an ex parte order, an order of protection may require the abuser to vacate the premises they share with their significant other and deny them the right to any form of contact with their victim. The most important difference from an ex parte order is that orders of protection are often permanent, and can be enforced across state lines.

Those who have been the victims of domestic abuse need to be aware that they can get the protection they need, and should do so as soon as possible. Speaking with a qualified domestic violence attorneyor law enforcement official is essential to preventing the worst case possible.