Domestic Violence In North Carolina
Domestic violence or coercive control is very personal and something that if you are dealing with – you wish you weren’t. Despite the fact that you may think you are hiding it well, it is likely that your children, your family and those around you already know what is going on. It is important that you seek help and you seek help soon, as domestic violence has devastating long-term consequences on everyone around you, especially your children.
Here is a brief message from our founding attorney on these issues:
Although I am an attorney, I am also a survivor of domestic violence. On this page, I offer free resources to others to help them empower themselves and break the cycle of abuse. I also offer reduced rates, which can be found on my services & fees page for domestic violence legal proceedings. You must first educate yourself on the various types of domestic violence and how it has been affecting you so that you will know how to fight back. You will need to find what resources are available to you and reach out to others. Surround yourself with a good supportive network (including family and friends). Find an attorney who understands domestic violence and who can relate to you. Then you need to take action.
Two Major Forms Of Abuse And Violence
A growing area of concern in terms of domestic violence and abuse are the issues of controlling behavior and destructive relationships with children. The terms you may hear the most are:
- Coercive control: A strategic form of ongoing psychological and emotional abuse that is based on control, manipulation and oppression.
- Parental alienation: The deliberate choice to undermine, manipulate, and badmouth a child’s other parent in order to hurt the other, often leading to a child’s refusal to visit with the alienated parent.
These actions are highly damaging not only to you but also to your family and they are a sign of possibly more dangerous situations. If you’re facing these issues, you need experienced legal help as soon as possible. Cases involving coercive control and alienation can have poor outcomes for the victim and children. We work aggressively to stand alongside you to protect you and your children. It is never too late to take action.
How To File For A Domestic Violence Restraining Order
Complete the following forms before going to the courthouse for faster service:
- Instructions for completing a DVPO
- Complaint and Motion for a DVPO
- Notice of hearing
- Ex parte order
- Civil summons DV
- Identifying info about defendant
- Affidavit as to minor child (one per child)
The domestic violence office at the courthouse will make free copies for you.
If you are in Wake County, go to the fifth floor of the civil district courthouse and go to the “domestic violence” section of the clerk’s office. If you cannot print these forms before going, they will provide them for you. They will also provide a notary, they will make free photocopies, and there is NO CHARGE for filing.
We recommend going between the hours of 1:00 p.m. to 2:00 p.m. as you are likely to see the judge immediately. If you go in the morning, you will likely have to come back in the afternoon, and if you go after 4:00 p.m., you will likely get bumped to the next day. Children are not allowed in the courtroom, so bring someone to help with children or leave them with someone you can trust. These general rules apply to all county courts, not just Wake County. The clerk’s office will help you a lot!
However, you likely have a lot more questions and we want to help clear those up as quickly as possible. Here are the answers to a few we get most often.
What happens once I file?
When you file the paperwork the first time, you will be seen by the judge “Ex Parte,” meaning without the defendant or the alleged abuser being present. The judge will decide whether to grant a temporary restraining order or not. If granted, you will be scheduled to return within ten (10) days for a full hearing. At this hearing, the defendant is entitled to be present and may or may not have an attorney, so you need to be prepared for that. Come with as many witnesses and as much evidence as you can.
What is good evidence?
Providing evidence of domestic abuse is a necessary step, and while it can be difficult to come by, it doesn’t have to be a major obstacle. Below is a list of items that you may compile to gather evidence:
- Pictures of abuse (broken items, damaged property, pictures of bruises, cuts, etc.)
- Phone, text, cell phone records and logs
- Witnesses who can testify to what they have seen firsthand
- Anything written by the defendant that shows abuse – letters, cards, emails, Facebook posts
- Police report and, if you can, the responding police officer’s report
- Medical records and/or receipts for bandages, crutches, medicine, etc., as a result of abuse
Building your case is essential, and any evidence that supports your side is vital.
What is domestic violence according to the court?
North Carolina General Statute, § 50B‑1. Domestic violence; definition. (a) Domestic violence means the commission of one or more of the following acts upon an aggrieved party or upon a minor child residing with or in the custody of the aggrieved party by a person with whom the aggrieved party has or has had a personal relationship but does not include acts of self-defense: (1) Attempting to cause bodily injury, or intentionally causing bodily injury; OR (2) Placing the aggrieved party or a member of the aggrieved party’s family or household in fear of imminent serious bodily injury or continued harassment, as defined in G.S.G.S. 14‑277.3A, that rises to such a level as to inflict substantial emotional distress.
Here are a few tips for when you craft your filing:
- The court wants to know why you are in danger now: When you file your Complaint, you need to start with the most recent incident and then go backward. You can use past abuse to support your current allegations of abuse but don’t rehash 15 years of abuse in one page.
- File quickly: If the incident occurred three months ago, you are going to have a harder challenge because you waited for so long.
- Distinguish between domestic abuse vs. domestic violence: If your partner nags you all the time and calls you names, but you don’t fear them, then that is likely going to be seen as domestic abuse and not violence. You need to communicate to the court your level of fear because of the actions of your partner.
- Make an outline: You can include it as an attachment to your complaint or use it as a guide so that you don’t forget any important facts when you are drafting your complaint.
Make sure to include your children, if you want them covered under the protective order and how they have witnessed the abuse and how they have been affected.
Reach Out To Us For More Help
Domestic violence usually leaves the victim without financial resources, making getting any kind of help, especially legal help, nearly impossible. It’s hard, and we want to help you. Reach out to us by calling 919-701-6775 or sending us an email.