Beverly was a high school senior when her boyfriend began abusing her. Like most abusers, he started out sweet, but quickly became jealous and controlling. He eventually isolated her from her friends, and began to physically abuse her. When she started college, he made Beverly call him at the beginning of a class and keep the call active the whole time so he could monitor who she talked to. Eventually, this phone surveillance extended to other parts of the day until he was monitoring her 24/7, listening even as she slept at night.
After a few months of dating, Beverly found out she was pregnant. Her abuser promised he would change, but he did not; the abuse continued. One day, the abuse landed Beverly in the hospital, and she worked up the nerve to leave him the next day. But at that point, she had already experienced so much trauma and anxiety during her pregnancy that she ended up giving birth prematurely.
Months later, Beverly found out that her abuser and his friends were posting violent threats about her on social media. Fearing for her safety and the safety her child, she applied for a restraining order. But the trial court ruled that Beverly did not need protection because she had waited 5 months since the last instance of physical abuse to apply for a protective order. The court also incorrect stated that domestic violence restraining orders do not extend to survivors of non-physical abuse.
But Beverly didn’t give up. She sought out help from the Family Violence Appellate Project and the Los Angeles Center for Law and Justice, to appeal the decision and get the protection she needed for herself and her child. FVAP won the case, and Court of Appeal overturned the trial court’s ruling, granting Beverly a restraining order against her abuser. Finally, Beverly got the safety, justice, and peace of mind she deserved.
This case was significant not just for Beverly, but for abuse survivors throughout California. Far too many California courts base their restraining order decisions on how much time has passed since physical abuse occurred — in some cases, the limit is just 2 weeks. But the Court of Appeal’s decision in this case has set a new, binding legal precedent that can be cited by attorneys and abuse survivors throughout the state.