With the recent heavy attention given to domestic violence issues, I wanted to highlight a few common questions related to Wisconsin domestic violence cases.
1. How do I get a restraining order?
There are two types of restraining orders: domestic violence and harassment. Wisconsin domestic violence is defined as physical contact, sexual assault, breaking property, or a threat to do any of those things. Harassment is defined as a pattern of harassing conduct with no legitimate purpose.
2. Can I get a Wisconsin domestic violence restraining order for emotional or verbal abuse?
No. A harassment restraining order is possible however.
3. How can I prove domestic violence occurred if there are no witnesses?
This is one of the great problems in legally proving domestic violence. One of the reasons that the Ray Rice situation was so rare and shocking is that there was video evidence. In 99% of cases, clear evidence does not exist. The standard of proof is set rather low, partly to acknowledge this common lack of evidence. Most judges are aware that the testimony and credibility of the victim will be the main evidence.
4. What protection does a domestic violence restraining order give me?
A violation of the order will result in an arrest and criminal charge, depending on the seriousness of the violation.
5. If the abuser lives with me, do they have to leave the home?
Yes. The law requires the sheriff, if requested, to place the victim in possession of the home. The restraining order will prevent all contact between the victim and abuser, including in person, email, phone, text, etc. and prevents the abuser from being in the same place as the victim.
6. What if we have children together?
The restraining order can be modified to permit limited communication, solely related to children, to ensure that parents can communicate in emergencies and be in the same location briefly to exchange the children or attend their activities. The level of communication depends on the comfort level of the victim.
Sadly, domestic violence remains too common. The more education provided on this subject, the better. I work closely with the Domestic Abuse Intervention Services (DAIS) in Dane County to represent victims of Wisconsin domestic violence. I encourage victims to contact DAIS for education and assistance.