Restraining orders, also known as protective orders, are meant to be a form of protection against threatening situations. It is not uncommon for these orders to be issued in domestic violence cases that involve various forms of harassment, including stalking, threats and physical violence. While restraining orders often go a long way to protect a victim, sometimes they are not successful. This Minnesota case illustrates an unfortunate situation in which a restraining order was not enough to protect a woman.
On Saturday, a Minnesota woman was beaten to death. This happened 11 days after a restraining order had been issued against her husband, who has been charged in her death.
The former head of Ramsey County's domestic abuse office says that while protective orders are often effective, they do not guarantee victims protection. As in this case, some perpetrators ignore the restriction. Fortunately, restraining orders are only one form of protection against domestic violence.
While a protective order was not able to prevent a tragedy in this situation, the woman also says that restraining orders can help encourage domestic violence victims to find a way out of an abusive situation. Victims who file for a restraining order can be provided other services like support groups, a safe place to stay and legal help. This can help send a positive message to victims, letting them know that they don't deserve to be in a violent situation. On top of that, people who violate a restraining order are subject to further penalties, which could include jail time. Because many people want to avoid additional charges, this can go a long way to keep a victim safe.
This tragic situation is not exclusive to Minnesota. Unfortunately, it could happen anywhere, including Colorado. While a restraining order was not enough to protect the woman in this case, restraining orders are often a good first defense against domestic violence. They can be issued on both a temporary and permanent bases and can result in serious legal penalties for those who violate them.
Minnesota Public Radio: "Advocate: Protective orders usually help domestic violence victims," Elizabeth Dunbar, 2 March 2011