Jennifer came to FVAP fearing for her safety and the safety of her family.
She had just found out that her abusive ex-husband filed to appeal her Domestic Violence Restraining Order, which had been issued to her in 2013 to protect herself and her two nieces against him. Jennifer, like most survivors, couldn’t afford to pay a private attorney to defend her at the appellate level — because appeals often take months or even years, typically costing tens-of-thousands of dollars — and she was scared this would result in her restraining order being taken away.
The restraining order was originally issued to because her ex-husband was harassing her with repeated, unwanted contacts — text messages, emails, hand-written letters, unwanted gifts — months after they had reached a divorce agreement. To dissuade his harassment, Jennifer moved to another county, changed her phone number, tried to block his repeated text messages, repeatedly changed her email address, and took other steps to try to find peace and safety. Undeterred, her abuser continued repeatedly harassing and cyber stalking her.
I am being harassed by him on average of one time a week,” she testified.
Eventually, Jennifer discovered through a mutual friend that her abuser had a stolen key to her house, was regularly hacking into her email accounts, and for the first time ever, had purchased ammunition for a gun he had owned for many years. Given her allegations of his violent, threatening, and intimidating behavior before and during the marriage, these developments caused Jennifer to fear for her safety and the safety of her family.
Jennifer sought a restraining order to protect herself and her two nieces. Even without allegations of threats or violence, the court issued the restraining order, affirming the fact that domestic abuse comes in many forms, and survivors deserve protection from all of those forms. When her ex-husband appealed this order, FVAP represented Jennifer in her defense against the appeal, and won. The Court of Appeal decided to uphold Jennifer’s restraining order, sending another strong message that non-physical abuse is serious and must be stopped.
This case is extremely important because many trial courts, to this day, only recognize domestic abuse as physical violence. This is a case that trial courts throughout California can now use to affirm that abuse comes in many forms, and survivors deserve protection from all forms of abuse.