October is domestic violence awareness month. Did you know? According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, more than one in three women and one in four men have experienced some form of physical violence by an intimate partner. In Polk County alone, more than 2,200 cases of domestic violence were reported in 2020.
What Exactly is an Injunction?
An injunction for protection, also known as a restraining order, is a court order directing a specific person not to have contact with a victim. Protective injunctions force abusers, by law, to stop abuse or threats against domestic violence victims, prevent abusers from coming near or contacting victims, and make abusers leave the home or give temporary custody of children to the victim.
The Clerk’s office helps domestic violence survivors obtain injunctions for protection. In recognition of domestic violence awareness month, we’re breaking down the types of injunctions available, how to get an injunction, and the resources available to victims of domestic violence.
Types of Injunctions
Did you know? Not all injunctions are the same. There are five different types of injunctions: domestic, sexual, dating, repeat, and stalking violence. Each injunction type has different requirements, and it’s important to know which type of injunction you need before you file a petition.
To petition for a domestic violence injunction, you must live with the other person as “family” or have a child with the other person. For injunctions, “family” can include blood relatives, a spouse, an intimate partner that you live with but are not married, adopted children, stepparents, stepchildren, and more.
If you don’t live with the other person or have a child with them but they have committed sexual battery against you that you have reported to law enforcement, you may file for an injunction for protection against sexual violence.
You may also file a sexual violence injunction if the other person has been in prison for sexual violence against you and their term of imprisonment has expired or will expire within 90 days from the date you file the petition for a restraining order.
Injunctions for protection against dating violence protect victims who have dated, been affectionate or intimate with, and continuously interacted with their abuser within the six months prior to filing a petition.
What if the requirements of the previous types of injunctions don’t apply, but you still need protection from someone who is threatening you, scaring you, has been physically violent towards you, or is stalking you?
Injunctions for protection against repeat violence can be used for neighbors, coworkers, and other individuals that do not meet the criteria of domestic, sexual, or dating violence.
For repeat violence injunction requests, there must have been two incidents of physical violence, threats, or stalking, with one occurring within the six months leading up to the injunction request.
Victims of stalking may file for an injunction for protection against stalking violence. This means the other person has willfully, maliciously, and repeatedly followed, harassed, or cyberstalked you.
How to Petition for an Injunction for Protection
Once you identify which type of injunction you need, you can file your petition for an injunction. The Clerk’s office never charges a fee to file for injunctions.
You can petition the court for an injunction by visiting the Family Law department of our office, located on the first floor of the Bartow courthouse. A victim assistant will help you prepare your forms and file them with a judge for review. If the judge believes an injunction is needed, they will enter a Temporary Order for Protection Against Domestic Violence.
You can prepare forms to request an injunction for protection online using our Do-It-Yourself court filings service through TurboCourt. Once your forms are prepared, you can file them for review by a judge using the Florida Courts E-Filing Portal.
After Hours Injunctions
What if violence occurs after business hours, or on a weekend or holiday?
First, call 911 to report the abuse to law enforcement. If law enforcement determines an injunction is needed, the Clerk’s office is contacted. From there, a deputy Clerk will assist you with a safety plan and help you apply for an injunction.
What Happens Next?
After the judge grants a temporary injunction, the violator is served a copy of the petition, notice of hearing, and temporary injunction, and a formal court hearing is scheduled within 15 days.
This October, the Polk County Clerk’s office encourages all people affected by domestic violence to be aware of the resources available:
- Contact the Clerk’s office if you need help filing an injunction. Paperwork for filing an injunction request can be prepared and filed online with the Clerk’s DIY court filings service and the Florida Courts E-Filing Portal, or in person at the Bartow Courthouse.
- The Florida Coalition Against Domestic Violence’s (FCADV) Domestic Violence Hotline is available in Spanish, English and Creole at 1-800-500-1119 (TTY 1-800-621-4202). This hotline provides support and advocacy for survivors 24 hours a day, every day of the year, and assistance finding shelter, support groups and more.