Family Violence

Family violence can be broadly defined as abuse that takes place in an interpersonal relationship. The violence may be emotional, psychological, physical, sexual, or economic abuse. Family violence is most often about one person in the relationship using abuse to control the other person. Stalking and cyber-stalking are activities that put the victim in reasonable fear. These activities are also recognized as forms of family violence.

If you feel you are in danger from your abuser at any time, call 911 immediately and we will send help.

The legal definition of Family Violence does not cover all types of family violence. Most often it covers physical abuse like hitting, shoving, restraining, threats of violence, sexual assault, and stalking. Family violence as defined in Georgia law occurs between current or former husband and wives, parents and children, or persons living or formerly living in the same household. Reasonable discipline of children is not considered family violence.

Consider the following:

  • If you are in danger when our deputies arrive, they can protect you.
  • They can help you and your children leave your home safely.
  • They can arrest your abuser when they have enough proof that you have been abused.
  • They can arrest your abuser if a temporary protection order (TPO) has been violated.
  • When our deputies arrive, tell them everything the abuser did that made you call.
  • If you have been hit, tell the deputies where. Tell them how many times it happened. Show them any marks left on your body. Marks may take time to show up. If you see a mark after we leave, call our office at 912-427-5970 to take pictures of the marks. They may be used in court.
  • If your abuser has broken any property, show the deputies.
  • Our office can give you information on domestic violence programs and shelters.
  • Our deputies will make a report saying what happened to you. These reports can be used in court if your abuser is charged with a crime.
  • Get the deputies' names, badge numbers and the report number in case you need a copy of the report.
  • A police report can be used to help you get a TPO.
  • Tell your supportive family, friends and co-workers what has happened.

Find a safe place - You should not have to leave your home because of what your abuser has done. But sometimes it is the only way you will be safe. There are shelters that can help you move to a different city or state.

Get medical help - If you have been hurt, go to the hospital or your doctor. Domestic violence advocates (people to help you) may be called to the hospital. They are there to give you support. You may ask medical staff to call one for you. Medical records can be important in court cases. They can also help you get a TPO. Give all the information about your injuries and who hurt you that you feel safe to give.

Special medical concerns - Sometimes you may not even know you are hurt. What seems like a small injury could be a big one. If you are pregnant and you were hit in your stomach, tell the doctor. Many abusers hurt unborn children. Domestic violence victims can be in danger of closed head injuries. This is because their abusers often hit them in the head. If any of these things happen after a hit to the head, get medical care right away.

  • Memory loss
  • Dizziness
  • Problems with eyesight
  • Throwing-up
  • Headache that will not go away

How Can a Temporary Protective Order (TPO) Help You?

A temporary protective order (TPO) is a court order to help protect you from someone who is abusing, threatening or harassing you. The order will require the abuser to stay away from you, your home and your work. The abuser will be prohibited from contacting you in any way. The court can also order the abuser to stay away from your children if the court feels they are at risk. The court can also order other kinds of relief in the TPO, such as temporary custody, support and possession of vehicles.

Getting a TPO does not mean the abuser goes to jail. The TPO makes it easier for the police to
arrest the abuser for coming near you later, even if the abuser does not hurt you again.

How to Get a TPO

There must be a recent threat of physical abuse or physical violence. The temporary protective order must be filed in the county where the abuser resides. If the abuser lives out of state, the TPO may be filed in the Georgia county were you live or where the violence occurred.

You will need to go to the Superior Clerk’s office and tell the clerk you want to file for a temporary protective order. They will give you the paperwork to complete. You must know the abuser’s name and current work and/or home address. The clerk will then take you to talk to a judge about your case. You must be ready to tell the judge about the violence that has occurred. The judge will want to know if you believe the abuse will continue.

If the judge grants you a TPO, the abuser will be served the order. A hearing will be conducted within 30 days. Both of you will be required to attend the hearing to determine if the order will be extended.

At the hearing, the judge will decide if the TPO should be extended for up to 12 months. The court can also decide other issues such as temporary custody and support for your children and support for you, or substance abuse treatment for your abuser.

If there is a new threat of violence before the TPO expires, you can go back to court and ask that the order be extended or made permanent.

Family violence causes many complex problems – legal, physical, emotional and financial. TPOs can help with some of these problems, but not all. Contact the local family violence shelter or legal aid office for advice or help with family violence problems.

Jesup has a 12-bed emergency shelter open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year to serve domestic violence victims and their children. The shelter is a home with four warm and welcoming bedrooms and a caring staff to assist victims and their children with services, options and opportunities to become survivors of domestic violence. They can be reached at 912-588-9999. If you or someone you know is experiencing domestic violence, you may also call the Georgia Domestic Violence Hot Line 800-33-HAVEN.

Some of this information was adapted from, Fair Haven Jesup and other web sources.