Lis and the Single Girl: Legal Avenues to Protect Yourself From Domestic Abuse

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Single and fabulous? Well then this is the column for you!

Ever wish you had your own personal Carrie Bradshaw to answer your questions — not just about what to do if your boyfriend dumps you via text message — but serious issues that confront us? This special daily edition of “Lis on Law” will address topics that single women are faced with and that everybody wonders about — but no one has time to figure out.

Between work, working out, dating and maintaining a social life, it’s tough to find time to do much else. So, read up and prepare to be fully armed for brunch this weekend with your friends with some super conversation topics! Your pals will be amazed!

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As promised yesterday, here’s another legal avenue to protect yourself from domestic abuse:

Get an order of protection: An order of protection is a court order under the Domestic Violence Act 116 of 1998. It orders an abuser to stop committing acts of domestic violence. Under this act, the abuser may also be ordered to provide compensation for financial losses suffered by the victim as a result of domestic violence. A protection order may also tell the police to assist you in finding shelter and medical treatment, provide an escort to fetch your belongings or take away the abuser's dangerous weapons.

You can file for an order of protection at a court in the district either where you live, work or own a business, where the abuser lives, works or owns a business, or where the abuse occurred. You will fill out an application for the protection order and the court will prepare a notice to the abuser notifying him of a hearing. (Note: if you can’t pay the service fee the state must provide financial assistance for you!) At the hearing, the court will hear evidence from both the victim and the alleged abuser. The magistrate will then decide whether or not to grant the order. If you get a protective order, and your abuser breaks that order, a warrant will be issued for his arrest.

In deciding whether to grant a protective order, the judge will want as much evidence as possible. So, make sure to document any erratic behavior and any violent actions. Keep an ongoing list either by writing everything down, or keeping a computer file, but be sure it is safe from discovery. Making your list on e-mail may be a smart place to store it, because it will be retrievable from anywhere (again, make sure the password is secure, and that you log off whenever you are finished). Keep the paperwork on any hospital visits. If you have made any 911 calls, get the tapes of them. Your attorney will need as much evidence as possible.

Now, while these remedies have been effective for some women, they have proved futile for others. Unfortunately, some protective orders are ignored and end up doing nothing more than further infuriating the abuser (which their victim often pays for). While laws have been recognizing the severity of domestic violence more and more, there are still some misogynistic officers stuck in the mindset that we should live in a male dominated world that tolerates abuse. If you encounter a situation like this, even though you may feel like giving up, stay as calm as you possibly can and tell the police about your incident in detail. Let them know of any witnesses and make sure they document everything. Show them any injuries or bruises or damaged property and ensure that they take pictures; take them yourself if they refuse. But most importantly, insist that they file an incident report!

If the threat of physical violence is imminent escape as soon as you can! It may be a good idea to have an escape plan in case you should need one. Make copies of important records and papers; put these records, some cash, and extra clothes in a safe place or a trusted friend’s house. Steps such as these will allow you to leave in case of an emergency and just may save your life.

To learn more about domestic violence call the National Domestic Violence Hotline:
1-800-799-SAFE (7233)

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The information contained in this Web site feature entitled “LIS ON LAW,” is provided as a service to visitors of, and does not constitute legal advice or establish an attorney client relationship. FOX NEWS NETWORK, LLC makes no claims, promises or guarantees about the accuracy, completeness, or adequacy of the information contained in or linked to this web site feature and its associated sites. Nothing provided herein should be used as a substitute for the advice of your own counsel.

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Lis Wiehl joined FOX News Channel as a legal analyst in October 2001. She is currently a professor of law at the New York Law School. Wiehl received her undergraduate degree from Barnard College in 1983 and received her Master of Arts in Literature from the University of Queensland in 1985. In addition, she earned her Juris Doctor from Harvard Law School in 1987. Lis is also the author of The 51% Minority — How Women Still Are Not Equal and What You Can Do About It. (Watch the Video) To read the rest of Lis's bio, click here.