Group calls for changes for protective orders

By Ben Garbarek bio | email
Posted by Shawn Maclauchlan

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - A group called the "Action Alliance" will ask lawmakers to change the guidelines for who can and cannot get a restraining order.

Right now, if you are dating someone but don't live with them, you can't get a restraining order.

Some say that allows too many women in need of a restraining order to fall through the cracks.

This weekend, nearly two hundred people finished the Richmond marathon to honor Yeardley Love - the UVA student who was allegedly killed by her ex-boyfriend.

"We wanted to make people aware of the issue of domestic violence," said UVA student Neil Holby.

Love could not get a restraining order because she didn't meet several of the required guidelines. She was ineligible because she wasn't living with her ex-boyfriend.

Gena Boyle works for the Virginia Sexual and Domestic Violence Action Alliance. She says many people that don't fit the current requirements still need protection.

"They are at the same high risk of escalating violence and homicide as someone who does live with their partner or has a child in common," said Boyle.

The Action Alliance says the law needs to better define what a relationship is so people who are not married or living with their boyfriend and girlfriend are eligible. Advocates say the rules need to be based on people's behavior - not their relationship status.

"A lot of times that protective order is the first step in coming forward and asking for help," said Boyle.

If you want a restraining order, you have to prove several things like physical abuse, sexual assault or false imprisonment. Those things can often be difficult or time-consuming to prove.

If you're a victim of violence or sexual assault, there's a hotline for you to call. It's free, confidential and open 24 hours a day. That number is 800-838-8238.

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