What should I know about domestic violence?
Domestic violence laws in Georgia
- What is domestic violence?
- What is emotional and psychological abuse?
- What is stalking?
- What can a protective order do?
What is domestic violence?
Domestic violence can be broadly defined as abuse that occurs between family members or unmarried partners who you are in a relationship with now or have been in the past 12 months. It is also known as family violence. It involves one person in the relationship using abuse to intimidate and control the other person.
Domestic violence as defined in Georgia law occurs between:
- past or present spouses,
- persons who are parents of the same child,
- parents and children,
- stepparents and stepchildren,
- foster parents and foster children, or
- other persons living or formerly living in the same household.
- a person if one of you is currently pregnant by the other.
Reasonable discipline of children is not considered family violence. The relationship does not have to be a sexual relationship to constitute domestic violence.
The abuse may be:
The legal definition of domestic violence covers physical abuse like:
- threats of violence,
- sexual conduct without consent,
- child cruelty,
- stalking, and
- many other state crimes to person or property.
What is emotional and psychological abuse?
Here are examples of emotional and psychological abuse:
- Threats of physical violence
- Humiliation and intimidation
- Blaming for everything
- Isolations - Actively creating emotional, psychological, and physical distance from family and friends
What is stalking?
Stalking and cyberstalking are activities that put the victim in reasonable fear. These activities are also recognized as forms of domestic violence.
Stalking is a pattern of behavior that causes a reasonable person to fear for their safety or the safety of their family. The law defines stalking as following, placing under surveillance, or contacting another person without their consent and causing them emotional distress.
What can a Protective Order do?
A Protective Order requires the person who abused or stalked you not to abuse, stalk, contact you, or come within a certain distance of where you are, including work and school. It can require the person to leave your home. It can also give you custody of your children, child support, temporary use of property and many other things. It can order the person who abused or stalked you to receive treatments to prevent them from doing this again. A protective order normally lasts 12 months.
Can the Protective Order last longer than 12 months?
Yes. If you file a Motion before your Protective Order ends, the Court, after a hearing with you and the person who abused or stalked you, may give you a Three Year or Permanent Order.
- What can I do if I am being abused?
- What can I do legally if I am being abused or stalked?
- How do I apply for a protective order?
What can I do if I am being abused?
The first thing you should do is make a safety plan. This is a plan to help you prepare to get out of an abusive relationship and stay safe. The National Domestic Violence Hotline Path to Safety can help you formulate a plan.
What can I do legally if I am being abused or stalked?
In Superior Court, you can apply for a Protective Order. In Magistrate Court, you can apply for a criminal warrant or a good behavior bond. You can also call the police, 911 for any urgent threat of harm.
How do I apply for a Protective Order?
You have to fill out a petition stating what happened and what you want the court to do about what happened.
- You can get the petition online, in the Clerk's Office or from the "Forms and Tools" tab of this website.
- You can file these by yourself, but if you need help filling out the petition, someone in the clerk's office, a domestic violence shelter advocate, or victim/witness advocate should be able to help you. This is a civil process and is free.
- Be sure to contact your local domestic violence agency for help.
You then file the petition in the Clerk's Office of the Superior Court in the county where the person who abused or stalked you lives.
- After you file the petition, you will see a judge who may give you an immediate Temporary or “Ex Parte” Protective Order and schedule a follow up hearing.
- The hearing will take place within 30 days of the date that you filed your petition.
- At the hearing both you and the person who abused or stalked you will tell the judge, and answer questions about what happened.
- After the judge hears from both of you, the judge will decide whether to give you a Temporary Protective Order for up to 12 months.
What happens if the person who abused or stalked me does not obey the Order?
Call the police if it feels safe to do so. The person can be held in contempt of court. They can also be arrested and charged with a misdemeanor or felony.
- Dating Violence Ex Parte Protective Order Form.
- Dating Violence 12 Month Protective Order Form.
- Petition for Dating Violence Temporary Protective Order Form.
- If you need family violence and protective order forms, visit the Georgia Superior Court Clerks' Cooperative Authority website.
- Visit the Southern Judicial Circuit website for self-help forms that may be used.
- Visit the Fulton County Court website for forms to use in family law proceedings in the Superior Court of Fulton County.
- If you wish to represent yourself in a family law case in the Superior Court of Clayton County, visit our resource and the court law library.
- If you need an interpreter in court, please use this petition form.
- Use this parenting plan to set out the details of how the parents will share the parenting responsibilities after a divorce or separation.
- Find your local domestic violence agency and other resources on the Georgia Coalition Against Domestic Violence website.
- The National Domestic Violence Hotline phone number is 1-800-799-SAFE (7233).
- Visit Partnership Against Domestic Violence or Women’s Resource Center for community education materials on domestic violence, referral and social services contact information, updates on legislative advocacy on domestic violence issues, news, personal stories and domestic violence links.
- Visit Georgia’s Department of Education webpage to learn about the school safety hotline.
- If you need advice on how to make a safety plan, visit The Hotline’s webpage to learn about how to create your path to safety.
- Visit the Domestic Violence Resource Center for more information about how to create a safety plan.
- See here for steps to begin the TPO process.
- For safety tips, visit WomensLaw.org’s resource.
- Learn about how computers can be tools for an abusive partner to spy, manipulate, control, and shame a victim on The Hotline’s resource.
- Visit The Hotline to learn about how to talk to your children about domestic violence.
- If you are a victim of domestic violence, read our Breaking Free from Domestic Violence brochure to learn about what you can do.
- Visit Futures Without Violence to learn about the nonprofit’s efforts to create healthy families and communities free of violence.
- Visit Connections for Abused Women to learn about domestic violence in the LBGTQ community.
- To learn more about partner abuse in the LGBTQ community please visit TheNetwork.
- To learn more about legal definitions for family law and domestic violence cases, visit WomensLaw.org.
- Visit the Women’s Justice Center for more information about immigrant women and domestic violence.
- To learn more about Technology Safety and Privacy, visit the National Network to End Domestic Violence's website.
- To learn more about teen dating violence please visit the CDC here.
- Visit Teen Dating Violence for more information.
- Read our brochure on how to break free from domestic violence.
- Read here how to make a safety plan.
- View Mass Legal Rights document that explores additional questions behind domestic violence.
- Read the American Bar Association’s brochure on domestic violence and safety for your children.
- Watch our video about the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) to learn about how it protects victims of domestic violence who live in federally subsidized or public housing.
- Watch our video on teen dating violence.
- Watch our video on Domestic Violence Help.
- Watch our video on Help for Domestic Violence Victims Living in Federally Subsidized or Public Housing.
- Watch our video on How to Get a Dating Violence Protective Order in Georgia.
- Watch our video on Where to find Domestic Violence Resources in Georgia.