Individuals who feel there is a threat to them or their families usually apply for restraining orders or protection orders. This is a way of ensuring that their loved ones, as well as themselves, are safe and protected. But do restraining orders actually work or are they merely a false sense of security?

What is a restraining order?

A restraining order aims at preventing the reoccurrence of any harm. This could be domestic violence, stalking or sexual harassment.

You need to state the conduct of the alleged offender and what they must refrain from doing. As long as he/she complies with the restraining order, you will be safe. If the respondent contravenes any stipulation of the protection order, he/she may be arrested. A protection order is enforced throughout the country once it’s granted. A restraining order is a court order intended to keep the abuser from your home, place of work, etc.

How to apply for a restraining order

As with any legal proceeding, applying for a restraining can be a lengthy process.

  • Get an affidavit and fill out the application form
  • Supporting affidavits by people who have knowledge of the matter in question may accompany the application
  • These documents must be handed to a clerk at the nearest court. The court will consider the application immediately
  • The application for a protection order is not limited to the person who has been harmed or threatened. The application may be created on behalf of the person by any other individual who has an interest in their well-being. This includes a counsellor, a health service provider, a social worker, a teacher or a member of the SAPS
  • If the court is satisfied that there is sufficient evidence that the suspect is committing or has committed an act of violence/harassment and unnecessary hardship as a result of the act, the court will issue an interim protection order against the respondent

Other information

  • The application for an interim protection order may be brought at any time and not only during office hours or on court days
  • The purpose of this interim protection order is to provide immediate protection to the complainant
  • The interim protection order has no force or effect until it has been served
  • The court is also required to issue a suspended warrant of arrest. A breach of the protection order requires that the respondent must be arrested by the police immediately
  • The interim protection order is not a final order from the court, but a temporary order which grants immediate relief until the return date (the date when the applicant and the respondent, after being given due notice, are to appear before the court to have the protection order made final). On this return date, the respondent is afforded the opportunity to present to the court reasons why the protection order should not be made final  
  • If the respondent does not appear in court on the return date, but the court is satisfied that proper notice has been given to the respondent and that there is sufficient evidence, the court may make a final order without the respondent being there

Are restraining orders effective?

The effectiveness of a restraining order is debatable. Many victims only apply for restraining orders after multiple experiences of serious abuse. The problem is, once these victims apply for a protection order, they run the risk of sending the abuser into a deep rage.  

Restraining Order Statistics

Violations of restraining orders are common and mean significant danger to the victim. The National Institute of Justice completed a two-year follow-up study of restraining orders. The results found that stalkers had the highest rate of re-offending. Here are some additional statistics;

  • 48.8% of victims were abused again after filing the order
  • 69% of stalked women were stalked again
  • 81% of stalked men were stalked again
  • 21% of victims experienced increased stalking and violence

Another study suggested that “the reported rates of protection order violations vary widely across studies, from as low as 7.1% to as high as 81.3%”. While other studies reported that restraining orders have a “15% success rate”. Studies vary based on the testing group they use. It makes it difficult to officially state the effectiveness of a restraining order. But most agree that the success of a protection order is 50/50. After all, it is just a piece of paper…

How you can protect yourself:

  • Tell someone: it is important that people who are close to you or who you work with are aware of your situation.  
  • Self-defense training: you may want to learn some basic self-dense moves so that you have the ability to get out of a sticky situation
  • Have a safety net: ensure you have someone or place of safety that you can run to
  • Get legal advice/ file a report: if you have children involved, find out what actions you can take and make the law enforcement aware of your situation
  • Be vigilant/ change your routine: make changes in your day so it isn’t easy to follow your wherabouts
  • Document everything: keep a record of every text/email, threat or act of violence, this will come in handy during court proceedings
  • Be wary of social media: having your life available for anyone to view or follow online is dangerous. It is easy to trace your location or your routine online
  • Keep your phone on you/charged always: if you need help, your phone is often your best ally
  • Escape plan: save money, move someone different, preferably into a secure complex/estate
  • Get help: if you have exhausted all possible options, try finding an executive protection company that can assist you  

Personal Protection

A 50/50 chance that you and your family are protected doesn’t sit well with us. A better option for you to consider, if you do find yourself in a dangerous situation or if you ever feel unsafe, is executive protection.

Executive Protection is also known as Close Protection or bodyguard services. Our experienced executive protection professionals in the field of covert and overt security will ensure you’re protected.

We will tailor the appropriate protection package for you based on our analysis of your risk profile. Once this is complete we then formulate a plan based on the requirements for the operation accordingly. All facets of your personal security are covered whether locally or internationally. Our specialist operators identify potential threats, ensure uninterrupted surveillance and around-the-clock protection.

We take your safety and security very seriously and while a restraining order is a good start, hiring a professional security officer will ensure absolutely nothing can happen to you. We will protect you 24/7. Contact us, you and your family are worth it.

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