Abuse is faced by people of all ages, and it can be stopped by minors and adults alike. If you’re a teen in an abusive relationship, don’t assume you have to suffer in silence.
A restraining order, also known as a protective order, can help prevent future abuse and violence. You can indeed file a restraining order as a teen, which might give you some peace as you recover from what you’ve gone through. We’ll break it down for you:
When to File a Restraining Order
Domestic violence is a serious ordeal, no matter what age you are. If you are in a situation that makes you feel unsafe, you have a right to legal protection. If you’re not sure whether what you’re dealing with is abuse, you can check your experiences against lists like this one.
Along with the more talked-about forms of abuse, like physical harm and sexual coercion, there are also other forms like emotional abuse, financial abuse, digital abuse, and stalking. Try to assess whether the things you are facing fall into any of these categories. Even if it’s not a clear-cut fit, what you’re dealing with might still be abuse.
Stalking Does Count
Stalking is one form of abuse that may be hard to spot at first. It may start with unwanted displays of affection before escalating into something much more serious.
In a study done in the state of Kentucky, 1 in 20 high school students was found to have stalked someone in the previous year. Another study points to a link between adolescent stalking and violent tendencies in general.
As a teen, you shouldn’t have to deal with the effects that this abuse can have on your life. Learn the state laws surrounding restraining orders so you can make an informed decision on what to do next.
The Filing Process
State-by-state guidelines can make a difference in how smooth the process is. In some states, a minor isn’t able to file a restraining order on their own. If you live in these states, you would need an adult to file on your behalf.
Among the states that require an adult to file, some require that adult to be a parent or guardian. But what if you don’t have a parent or guardian who’s willing to file for you?
See if your state will allow any other household member over the age of 18 to do this instead. States like these might also have a “next friend” policy, where a trusted adult of your choosing can file a restraining order for you even if they don’t live with you. You can check your state’s guidelines to see whether you’ll need an adult on your side.
The filing process itself also differs by state. Your state will likely have a 24-hour hotline number to call if you need help.
To file your restraining order, you’ll need to fill out a state-specific application form and wait for a hearing, which may be expedited if there’s a weapon you’re worried about. Then, if the judge grants your request, you’ll receive some forms of your own. This constitutes the restraining order.
Wait—Can Someone File A Restraining Order On Me?
The short answer is yes.
As a teen, it’s important to know that the legal consequences of intimate partner violence aren’t only faced by adults. If you exhibit any of the behaviors mentioned earlier in this article, you could certainly be subject to a restraining order. What’s more, you could face jail time for teen dating violence.
Read these early warning signs and learn to recognize whether these patterns are present in yourself or the people around you. Knowing the consequences of abuse is important not just for victims of abuse, but also for potential perpetrators. Personal safety is a serious matter, and it’s treated seriously in the world of law.
If you’re a teen in an abusive situation, and you’re wondering whether to file a restraining order, please know that it is possible. State laws may differ on the roadblocks you encounter, but there are hotlines and resources available to help you find a way. A restraining order is a solid step toward your protection.
For more on how to navigate the legal system in general, take a look at our blog and see what might work for you.