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How stalking protective orders can help victims of violence

Some Georgia residents who have recently ended a romantic relationship or marriage find that their exes are unwilling to allow them to move on with their lives. In many cases, ex-partners may become violent or threaten to do so. They may frequently call, text or send letters to their exes, or they may follow them or hire someone to follow them. Stalkers do not always explicitly threaten to harm or kill their victims, but their behaviors are intended to cause their victims to feel constant fear.

Victims of stalking may be eligible to seek protective orders from the courts. Protective orders prohibit stalkers from entering their victims' proximity. This is usually established as a certain number of yards that stalkers must stay away from the person they are stalking. Accused stalkers are ordered to stop following their victims or their victims' families. Protective orders also also prohibit stalkers from contacting their victims or their families any further, whether directly or indirectly.

Judges may issue temporary ex parte protective orders against accused stalkers if they believe a person has been a victim of stalking and that the stalking is likely to occur again. Temporary orders last for 30 days. A judge cannot issue a final protective order until after a hearing, which gives accused stalkers a chance to defend themselves in court. A final order lasts up to one year, after which a victim may file for a three-year or a permanent order.

While victims of stalking may apply for protective orders without legal representation, many victims benefit from consulting with domestic violence attorneys before beginning the process. Attorneys advocate for victims in court, and their familiarity with these matters often gives their clients an advantage in cases where it may be difficult to prove that stalking has occurred.

Source: Women's Law, "How can a stalking protective order help me?", December 17, 2014

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