Teens and young people are the most likely to experience an abusive relationship. Unfortunately, state laws have not caught up to this trend. Get the facts about how far the law goes to protect you in your state. If it doesn’t add up, contact your local representative or Senator to urge them to change the laws.
If you or someone you now is being abused and feels forgotten by the law, law enforcement officials can still help you, and so can a trusted adult so don’t be discouraged from getting help!
A restraining order – sometimes called a protective order – is a court order that makes it illegal for the abuser to harm you, come near you or contact you. This is one good option if you feel like the situation has gotten out of control.
Calling the Police
The police can help in a lot of ways, like:
- Arresting your abuser for hurting you or violating a restraining order
- Depending on what state you’re in, they may be able to issue a restraining order on the scene
- Helping to document the abuse (taking pictures, interviewing witnesses) so you have evidence for a court case if you ever decide to use it
- Helping you in finding an agency or org in your town to help you
- Stopping the abuse long enough for you to escape
Dating Relationships and Restraining Orders
Thirty-eight states plus Washington, D.C. allow victims of abuse who are dating their abuser to apply for a civil domestic violence restraining or protective order
These states are: AK, AR, CA, CO, CT, DE, DC, FL, HI, IA, ID, IL, IN, KS, LA, ME, MA, MI, MN, MS, MO, MT, NE, NV, NH, NJ, NM, NC, ND, OK, PA, RI, TN, TX, VT, WA, WV, WI and WY
Twelve states do not allow a victim who is in a dating relationship to apply for protection under their civil domestic violence restraining or protective order laws.
- These states are: AL, AZ, GA, KY, MD, NY, OH, OR, SC, SD, UT, and VA. You can still file for a restraining or protective order once you are not dating your abuser, so it is important to get out of an abusive relationship as you as you can identify it as abusive
Oregon allows victim in a sexual relationship with their abuser to apply for a restraining or protective order
Age Restrictions for the Victim
New Hampshire is the only state where the law allows a minor of any age to go to court alone to get a protective order
In MO and WI, domestic violence restraining orders are shockingly only available to adults!
Eight states (CA, CT, MN, OK, OR, UT, WA, WY) allow minors to get restraining or protective orders without a parent or adult if they meet certain requirement, like being a certain age or having a certain kind of relationship with the abuser
Seven states (AK, AZ, DE, ID, IA, MS, TN) require that a minor has to have a parent or legal guardian to apply for a restraining order
Many other states make no provision for how minor victims apply for a restraining order. Find our more about your states laws and policies about restraining or protective orders so you can take action!
Age Restrictions for the Abuser
Eight states impose age restrictions on the person against whom you get a restraining order. These states are : AZ, CO, MI, MO, NV, NC, OK, and WI
In MO, NV, and WI a victim can’t get a protective order against a minor
Five states allow restraining orders against some, but not all minors.
In North Carolina a victim can’t get one against someone under 16. In Oklahoma, the abuser has to be at least 13. In Arizona the abuser has to be at least 12 and in Colorado and Michigan, the abuser has to be at least 10.
Another indicator that the laws have not caught up with reality, some states make it impossible or difficult to get a restraining order based on dating or domestic violence against someone of the same sex. Find out more.
Need help NOW? Make the call.