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May. 21 2010 - 4:21 pm | 2,368 views | 0 recommendations | 5 comments

Live in Virginia, date an abuser, and want a restraining order? You’re out of luck

I’m so dismayed by this that I’ve had a hard time trying to fit it into a broader post, so instead, I’m just going to provide the information as is. According to Newsweek’s Jessica Bennett, “Virginia is one of eight states that excludes people in dating relationships — in other words, unmarried couples or partners — from getting protective restraining orders, and for the past three years, the state has failed an annual assessment of domestic-violence-protection laws.”

In other words, even if she wanted to, Yeardley Love couldn’t have filed a restraining order against George Huguely, the UVA student charged with first-degree murder in her death. When you consider that partner violence is at its highest among women aged 16 to 24 — and that the median marriage age in Virginia (among women) is 25 — then you’re left with a status quo where the women who most need support from law enforcement are in the worst position to get it.

UVA’s president, John Casteen, has asked Governor McDonnell to pursue legislation that would compel police departments to notify universities in the event of a student’s arrest, and while that’s good, it isn’t nearly enough. Domestic violence is an incredibly taboo subject, and women — especially young women — have trouble knowing or admitting that they are in abusive relationships. Restricting the means through which women can find help and legal protection is a recipe for more silence and more abuse, and given the circumstances, the University should take the lead in changing this incredibly pernicious law.


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  1. collapse expand

    Why??? What’s the logic behind that? And does it specifically exclude dating partners, or is the category of people allowed to get restraining orders under-inclusive? Wow, talk about legislative failure.

  2. collapse expand

    Do restraining orders work? I’ve never looked into it myself but it seems that a lot of women who are assaulted – often murdered – had restraining orders against the person who assaulted them.

    If restraining orders work – and I hope they do in a majority of cases – I agree with you, Virginia needs to expand it to those who are dating.

    But more importantly, we need to figure out why so many men engage in stalking, intimidation, and violence against women, and begin to address it.

    • collapse expand

      in my experience, NO restraining orders don’t work…especially against angry ex-husbands/boyfriends…

      all a restraining order managed to do in my case was piss off my ex-husband enough to spur an attempted kidnapping…

      but that is not the only reason restraining orders don’t work…the other is that responding police officers don’t enforce them…in my case, even though i had the order AND produced it for the responding police officers, they did nothing to enforce it – and, in fact, told me i had to have my kids ready for his visitation (per our custody agreement) the next day or they would come out and arrest ME for violating HIS rights…

      In response to another comment. See in context »
    • collapse expand

      There is a popular saying: “When seconds count, the police are only minutes away.”

      The fact is that restraining orders often do not work because, contrary to perception, it is not the job of police to protect people. Police enforce the law by arresting people who have already broken the law. A person in violation of a restraining order can be arrested, but usually the reason why such an order is being violated in the first place is because the violator has little respect for the law. Couple that with the fact that restraining orders are usually issued due to the violent nature of an aggressor, and the precarious position of women in these situations becomes obvious, restraining order or no.

      Should Virginia issue restraining orders for such women? Sure. Why not. (I would like to know what the reasoning is behind not issuing them in these cases.) But women should not adopt a false sense of security just because some judge hands them a paper with an official seal. Anyone in such a situation would be much better served by taking steps to ensure their own safety -including carrying a gun.

      In response to another comment. See in context »
  3. collapse expand

    You’re kidding me, right?

    A dating relationship gone bad is the perfect environment for an abuser to show his ugly side and a restraining order can be lifesaving.

    Why do I persist in thinking that I live in a civilized society.

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    About Me

    I am a blogger and occasional freelance writer. Usually, you'll find me here, but I occasionally contribute to PostBourgie.com, as well as Spencer Ackerman's blog (when he's away). At my old Wordpress digs, I blogged about progressive politics, public policy, nerdy things and food, and here at True/Slant, I intend to do the same. I'm all about the social media, so feel free to follow me on Twitter: jbouie, or friend me on Facebook (though I might make you wait awhile). And if you'd rather avoid social media, you can always email me at jamelle DOT bouie AT gmail DOT com.

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