No one deserves to be, nor must they remain, a victim of domestic violence. New Jersey laws are strict and make it mandatory that the police arrest a domestic violence attacker when there is a sign of injury to a victim. When children witness domestic violence, they may carry on the trait. It is our goal to break this chain of violence with a zero tolerance approach and to teach children how to deter domestic violence.
If you or someone you know is a victim, there are many services to help a victim get out of the relationship before it is too late. Here are links to useful websites: Office of Victim-Witness Advocacy and Domestic Abuse Services Inc.
Time and again, we see victims obtain a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) only to dismiss it when it comes time to apply for the Final Restraining Order (FRO), with reasons varying from:
- The abuser is the one bringing in the money:
"How will I live without an income?"
"How can I raise my children without a job?"
"Who will pay the mortgage?"
"Where am I going to live?"
- The victim rationalizes the abuse by saying it was their fault:
"I brought this on by arguing with him."
"I should have been a better wife, homemaker, cook (etc.)."
"He was mad, I should have done what he said."
- The victim believes the abuser has changed:
"We talked it over and he won’t hit me anymore."
"He told me he loves me and is sorry."
"She only does this when she gets angry."
"He is under a lot of stress lately, but now it is okay."
- The victim is scared of the abuser:
"If I get a Restraining Order, he will kill me."
"I know her, she will make my life miserable if I go ahead with
"He will never leave me alone."
"He will kidnap my children, and I will never see them again."
Every victim has a right to feel scared of their attacker. If a restraining order is not good enough, you have the option of moving to a domestic violence shelter. (The Police don't even know where they are!). Your children will be taken care of - You will be taken care of - You will be supported throughout the trial and process of getting your freedom back. Domestic Violence victims must step forward and start the process because domestic violence doesn't get better, it continues to get worse.
Most people do not understand the process of Domestic Violence. This is what happens when the Police receive a call to respond to a Domestic Incident:
1. We determine who the victim is and who the accused is. If it is only a domestic dispute (no injuries), we take a report. If it is domestic violence (with injuries), we move ahead to the next step.
2. If there is a sign of injury, it is mandatory that the attacker be arrested. The attacker will be charged. If there is no sign of injury, either the officer or the victim may sign a complaint.
3. The victim will be afforded the opportunity to apply for a TRO.
(a) For Domestic Violence incidents that occur during non-business hours or on holidays, the Police contact a municipal court judge to explain the situation and then the victim speaks with the same judge. The Municipal Court Judge will then determine if there are grounds for an emergent TRO to be granted. In cases when the Municipal Court Judge does not grant the application for a TRO, the victim must go to the Morris County Courthouse, Family Division, in Morristown, during business hours, and apply for the TRO through a Superior Court Judge.
(b) For Domestic Violence incidents that occur during business hours, after reporting the incident to the police, the victim must apply for the TRO by going to the Morris County Courthouse, Family Division, in Morristown, where a Superior Court Judge will be involved.
(c) Should the victim choose not to apply for a TRO, this does not prevent the victim from applying for a TRO at a later date.
(d) If the TRO is granted, the accused (attacker) is served with the TRO and is afforded the opportunity to retrieve his/her personal belongings from the household for a brief time under the supervision of a police officer, with the victim present. The accused cannot have any form of contact with the victim. If he/she does, they will be arrested for violation of the TRO.
4. If the victim is extremely alarmed or frightened, the Police will make arrangements for their protection by contacting Jersey Battered Women's Service. For more information on this agency and the services they offer, go to their website located at JBWS. This agency also will assist victims throughout the court process.