How Do Restraining Orders Work–And Will They Keep You Safe?

How Do Restraining Orders Work–And Will They Keep You Safe?


Yesterday, actress Kate Beckinsale posted a desperate message to her fans: Don’t send live pets to her house!

The message was prompted by the arrival of a pet rabbit in a cage outside her door, along with flowers and a note. Kate later deleted the videos, but since the internet is forever, we know what happened. Someone, presumably a fan, found Kate’s address and delivered a bunny to her doorstep.

Presumably, they thought the gesture would make Kate happy. Instead, it made her distressed and confused. She called the situation “pretty unsettling” after she rushed to find the rabbit a new, loving home.

“PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE however much someone loves animals please never send an unsolicited pet to someone’s house,” Kate wrote in an Instagram caption. “Especially anonymously and especially on a boiling hot day where it could have been left outside to roast to death.”

Celebrities sometimes gain obsessed fans who will go to any lengths to connect with the person they admire. The truly frightening part about Kate’s story is that this person knows where she lives. Which brings us to today’s topic: restraining orders. Many people are confused about how they work and what they can actually do, so let’s clear that up!

What Is a Restraining Order?

Restraining orders are also called protective orders, and they are designed to protect someone who fears for their safety. The person getting the restraining order must demonstrate to a court that they are experiencing intimidation, threats, or actual abuse.

If the judge approves the restraining order, the abuser or stalker is usually ordered to have no contact with you, either in person or on the phone. If the abuser is currently living with you, they may be ordered to leave and take all their stuff with them. The person getting the restraining order will typically get full custody of any children in a shared household.

How Do You Get One?

This process can take a while, which is why you must first get a temporary restraining order that lasts about 10 days. This is an emergency measure to protect you until your first official court date. In the meantime, you should keep a copy of the order with you and make sure that the police have a copy as well.

During your first court appearance, you have a chance to tell a judge about your situation. It’s uncommon for the abuser or stalker to be present during the first hearing. However, the other party does have a right to defend themselves during a second court date. You can both have lawyers during these hearings.

Ultimately, the judge will decide whether to make the temporary order more permanent. However, most restraining orders do not last indefinitely, and it will eventually expire. Once you have a protective order, you are within your rights to call the police and have the abuser or stalker arrested if they violate its terms.