Violating a Protective Order

By Rebecca Lynn

According to DomesticShelters.org, approximately half of protective orders (POs) domestic violence survivors obtain against their abusers who physically assaulted are were violated. Two-thirds of the protective orders for victims of rape or stalking are not followed by the abuser.

These statistics, like most about domestic violence, are a little daunting, but by reporting violations, staying aware of your surroundings, and making safe decisions, a protective order can be an excellent tool to help guard yourself against your abuser. Some victims find it empowering to take back some of the control that their abuser had over them. Orders can also send a message to the abuser that you are no longer willing to take the abuse. Not all abusers hear or accept the message, but regardless, violating the order is a crime and all violations should be taken seriously.

It is essential to understand that a protective order is a law, and not just a recommendation. In fact, not even the person protected by the order has permission to change it or allow the abuser to break certain provisions. The order stays in effect until a court changes it. The PO is in place to protect the victim from the abuser, meaning that the victim cannot be arrested or accused of violating the order, even if they were a willing participant in the violation of the order.

The only way a protective order is successful is if the victim reports the violations any time they occur.  Reporting a violation can be a confusing and difficult thing to do. Not all violations are intimidating, threatening or physical, and can be concealed with apologies and promises that can pull you right back into the unhealthy cycle of abuse you just escaped from. Some other forms of violations are a little easier to determine. According to 8 Ways You Can Violate a Protective Order, these include;

  • Coming too close to the victim,
  • Contacting the victim (including text, email, and postal mail),
  • Failing to move out of the home shared with the victim,
  • Visiting the victim’s workplace or school,
  • Failing to pay bills (including utilities, mortgage or child support),
  • Failing to comply with child visitation rules,
  • Purchasing or possessing a gun,
  • Responding to contact attempts from the victim and
  • Threatening the victim or their family in person or through social media, email, or text.

A protective order cannot protect you unless it is used and violations are reported. If you let one violation go, the abuser may continue to violate it, thinking that you are not going to hold them to it. This not only defeats the purpose of the order, but it also allows the abuser to regain the control they previously had over you. Documenting all communication and protection order violations is crucial. This can include screenshots of text messages, emails, phone call history, security camera tapes, or witnesses of the violation.

A protective order is ineffective if people are not aware of it. To enforce a protective order, it must be shared and readily available to those it impacts. The local police will be able to look up the case number in their database and pull up the order quickly, but it is imperative that you keep a copy with you and provide one to others who may come in contact with your abuser.  This means providing a copy to your children’s school, workplace, relatives, and alerting neighbors who live nearby. The more people who know, the more likely a violation will be reported, and the safer you will be

When a protective order is violated, the consequences vary from state to state and with the nature of the violation. According to DomesticShelters.org typically a violation of the order (whether civil or criminal) is an arrestable offense. In general a violation of PO results in a misdemeanor; however, the charges stack up, so if the abuser violates the order a certain amount of times, the charge will be upgraded to a felony. If they continue to break it, it can eventually become a stalking charge.

The first thing to do when an order is violated is contact the police. Make sure to have any evidence, documentation and the protective order available in case they request it. Do not engage in conversation or agree to meet with your abuser.  It is essential to be aware of your safety. If your abuser is arrested, you may want to be more alert in case they retaliate. Sometimes an abuser isn’t arrested right away, meaning that your safety could be at risk during that time. Having a safety plan, making arrangements ahead of time, and keeping those close to you and in your neighborhood up to date on the situation will help keep you safe when a violation occurs.

Each protective order is different in the amount of time that it is active. It is imperative to know when your order expires so you can take the proper precautions or make plans to renew it. Each order has a date of expiration and if there is not one, it likely expires two years from the time it was granted. If you do not request an extension before the expiration date, all child visitation, child support, and provisions that were stated in the protective order will expire. You can file for an extension of the order if your abuser has violated the order, you have upcoming trials that could put you in harm, or you have reason and proof to believe that you and your children are still not safe from your abuser. It is best to file for an extension at least 30 days before the order expires so there is no lapse in protection.

Protective orders are not magical. They do not come with a promise of protection or a guarantee that your abuser will follow it. Protective orders are only one of the many small parts required to keep you safe after leaving your abuser. It is to be used in conjunction with an awareness of your surroundings, knowledge of the order and its specific violations, and making your protection order known by those around you. It requires that you, the survivor report each violation, regardless if it is big or small. A protective order can be one of the first steps at taking the control back and breaking your silence.

If you or someone you know is in an abusive relationship, there is help. You can visit the Break the Silence website at www.breakthesilencedv.org or chat with one of our helpline advocates at 855-287-1777.

Social Media Director Named 2018 Volunteer of the Year

Written by: Amy Thomson

Break the Silence Against Domestic Violence has grown considerably since its inception in 2011. This growth is made possible by the tireless, passionate work of our volunteers who are all driven by the desire to help everyone live happy, healthy lives free of violence. We truly appreciate the efforts of our volunteers and enjoy being able to recognize and thank them for all the work they do to help move us closer to our goal of eradicating relationship violence.

When I was asked to write the announcement recognizing one of our volunteers, I was excited to know that I would be the one introducing our community to him. His passion and dedication to those in our community, the organization, and all of our volunteers never fail to inspire and empower me to put my best effort into everything I do – not just as a volunteer but professionally and personally as well. I consider it an honor to be working with him side by side as his Coordinator.

It is with great happiness that I introduce to you Break the Silence’s 2018 Volunteer of the Year recipient, Brian Nguyen.

When Brian came to Break the Silence Against Domestic Violence in 2016, he had just graduated college and found himself searching for a volunteer opportunity that would allow him to use his skills to serve others. For Brian, volunteering isn’t something that’s done without purpose. At its heart, volunteering is about bringing positive change to the lives of others in our communities while simultaneously helping us to heal our own lives. As it would turn out, Brian’s skills and passion for fighting against domestic violence made him a central part in our organization’s work.

As Social Media Director, Brian successfully leverages his social media, IT, and marketing skills while overseeing a rapidly expanding social media team. He monitors the overall function of our platforms, develops analytical reports for the organization, stays on top of social media trends, troubleshoots areas of improvement, and reaches out into the community to forge partnerships with other domestic violence organizations, social media influencers, and businesses. With everything he has accomplished, he does recognize that there are challenges in finding effective solutions to cover shortfalls or gaps. Brian somehow always seems to manage to overcome those challenges as a result of his dedication and commitment to our organization and those we serve.

He takes great pride in the quality of his work and carefully considers the impact of all of his decisions. During his time with us, he has managed to connect the entire organization into one internal platform for communication, allowing all volunteers to effortlessly work together regardless of where they are. Since our founder first broke her silence on Facebook in 2011, Nguyen has guided the organization in adding Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Pinterest to engage our community in the fight against domestic violence.

“I want our organization to be a leading resource for survivors and advocates alike. Social media is a great platform we can all leverage to centralize resources, raise awareness, and make support systems readily available to anyone who needs it.

“Our vision for Break the Silence’s future as a realization of a goal to not only be that leading resource for domestic violence, but to also assume that role in a way that is innovative, creative, and engaging in its work to empower others to break their silence.”

Our Founder and Executive Director Kristen Paruginog has noticed the impact of Nguyen’s work with BTSADV.

“Since Brian has been with us, he has made a significant impact on our entire organization. His colorful personality and passion for serving others have truly shown in his commitment to Break the Silence. Brian inspires all of us to work hard, push forward, and challenge ourselves to be the best version we can be for our BTSADV family. I can’t say enough to express my deepest gratitude for him; I will never let him go!”

Although she just joined us fairly recently as Managing Director, Kayla Allen has also recognized how Brian’s character and personality have the power to spark growth and positivity within the organization.

“Brian is a go-getter without bounds. He seeks the best and always reaches for the next level. His kindness and loving spirit bring life to everyone that he touches. He’s truly a blessing to BTSADV and the world.”

When I asked Brian how it felt to be named as our 2018 Volunteer of the Year, he was gracious and humble in his reply. The entire team at Break the Silence has noticed the love and effort he puts into his work, and several times during the conversation, Brian referenced the team being part of his success in his role as Social Media Director.

“It is a great feeling to know that I am being rewarded for work that changes lives. I am truly honored and privileged, and when I was named, I was a bit speechless because I didn’t think that I would be the one to get the award.

“When I started, Break the Silence was a small organization. We knew the direction we wanted to take, but we didn’t have the resources or team to make it happen at first. Looking at where we are now, it shows just how far we have come.

“To see where we are now shows the fruits of our labor. We watched it grow slowly for a few years. I am blessed to be part of this organization because I have been a part of changing lives and encouraging and empowering others to break their silence.”

As Nguyen noted during our conversation, many of our volunteers work during the day and volunteer their free time in their duties with Break the Silence. Brian is no different, sometimes spending several hours in the evenings working on his responsibilities covering the social media team.

Working with Brian as his Social Media Coordinator has allowed me to witness firsthand the amount of care, time, and effort he puts into his work. Even when we have a lot on our plates and find it challenging to keep up with deadlines and collaborations with other teams within the organization, Brian makes it look effortless. Knowing the challenges I face with time management, I was curious to know Brian’s perceptions and how he keeps himself motivated to stay on task.

“The work we do is so important – so much so that we can’t afford to be silent. It makes me feel better to know that I am making a difference. I keep myself motivated by remaining positive, staying healthy, and feeling good. Being part of such an amazing organization is inherently motivating. It drives me always to be the best I can be.”

Nguyen pointed out that accolades should not be the reason behind any volunteer work we do. He views the Volunteer of the Year award as something far greater than a title or award. For him, it’s proof of the extraordinary work we do every day as an organization as we strive to change lives and empower survivors of abuse to share their stories and break their silence against domestic violence. He further added that without the support of our founder, the Board of Directors, and the entire team, he wouldn’t be able to accomplish the amazing work he does every day.

For Nguyen, social media goes far beyond merely posting on the range of platforms available. In Brian’s words, social media is an interactive tool that “allows us to take our stories, mission, and vision and share it with the world to educate, empower, and start a conversation that ultimately inspires change.”

Working closely with Brian has given me the gift of witnessing perhaps three of the qualities I feel are the most important characteristics a person can possess: compassion, passion, and kindness. These underlying factors drive everything Brian does in every area of his life, and the reason that he is so successful at what he does is because he genuinely cares about the work he does – and those he is serving.

His energy and generosity are infectious and never fail to inspire his team to be our best every day. Under his leadership, I have grown both personally and professionally and truly enjoy working with him. I am beyond excited that Brian is being recognized for all his hard work; he has helped shape Break the Silence as a whole and will no doubt continue to do so well into the future.

To end our conversation, Brian shared some thought-provoking insight on domestic violence and our work here at Break the Silence that I would like to share with you.

“Everyone has a story. Through my experience, I’ve learned to live life to the fullest and look at others with an open mind. Domestic Violence is a serious issue, regardless of gender, sexual orientation, or religion. On average, nearly 20 people per minute are physically abused by an intimate partner in the United States. During one year, this equates to more than 10 million women and men. Love shouldn’t have to hurt.

“There’s a stigma in our country and around the world about domestic violence that it’s always the survivor’s fault, that it’s never the abuser’s. The trauma of the abuse often leads survivors down different paths in their lives. Some are willing to break their silence, share their story, and empower and educate others.

“Education and prevention are key components that we need to make a priority in the fight against domestic violence. We need to keep having conversations and empowering survivors to share their stories without the fear of their abuser getting back to them.

“That’s why the work that we’re doing here at Break the Silence Against Domestic violence is crucial because we’re allowing ourselves to be the voice, a voice to help others and inspire them.

“To those who are reading this, please know you’re not alone. You are worthy. You are loved. If you need a safe space or just a friend, please don’t hesitate to reach out! I hope you’ll join me in our journey to Break the Silence Against Domestic violence.”

Thank you for your tireless work and dedication, Brian! You inspire each and every one us every day!


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