Legal Help
Reaching a safer place.

For some survivors, the criminal legal system may offer options for protection from abusive partners. The Hotline doesn’t give legal advice — nor are we legal advocates — but there may be legal resources available in your community that we can help you identify.

Contact us to talk through legal resources suited to your situation:

  • Call 800.799.SAFE (7233)
  • Or chat live now

What to expect when you contact us

Legal protections

Protective orders and restraining orders

  • A protective order is a legal document intended to prohibit your partner from physically coming near you or harming or harassing you, your children, or other loved ones.
  • You can apply for a protective order at courthouses.
  • Protective orders may be able to put a stop to physical abuse but they depend on your partner’s adherence to the law and law enforcement’s willingness to enforce the protective order. Psychological abuse is still possible, and a protective order should never replace a safety plan.

Other legal resources

  • WomensLaw.org has state-by-state information about laws including protective and restraining orders and child custody laws.
  • Legal Services Corporation is an independent nonprofit established by Congress in 1974 to provide financial support for civil legal aid to low-income Americans. The Corporation currently provides funding to 134 independent nonprofit legal aid organizations in every state, the District of Columbia, and U.S. Territories. 
  • VINE allows crime victims to obtain timely and reliable information about criminal cases and the custody status of offenders 24 hours a day. Victims and other concerned citizens can also register to be notified by phone, email or TTY device. 
  • National Clearinghouse for the Defense of Battered Women assists battered women charged with crimes and members of their defense teams such as defense attorneys, advocates, expert witnesses.
  • Ask a volunteer legal services provider (attorneys who offer free legal services to low-income individuals) or a local advocacy group about actions against your partner for behaviors like criminal assault, aggravated assault, harassment, stalking, or interfering with child custody.

Protections for non-U.S. citizens


Safety and law enforcement

In assessing decisions about your safety, it’s important to consider as many aspects of your situation as possible. This includes accounting for ways that law enforcement may threaten your safety depending on circumstances of race, gender, ability, class, and more. Decisions about your safety should always include considerations of the potential risks that come with contacting law enforcement.

  • If possible, identify non-law enforcement emergency service providers in your area before violence occurs to minimize interactions with the criminal legal system during an emergency. This can include local organizations, networks of trusted friends and neighbors, or other groups working towards transformative justice solutions.
  • If you determine that it’s safe for you and others for you to do so, call 9-1-1 during a life-threatening emergency.
  • For non-life threatening situations, consider contacting us 24/7 to speak confidentially with one of our expert advocates.

 

Everyone deserves a healthy, safe relationship.

We're here to support you.