Bernie Thibault – July 2016
What is an Emergency Protection Order and How Might it Help You?
Have you been a victim of domestic violence? If you are or have been in the past, you should know about the options available to protect yourself from further harm. One such option is an Emergency Protection Order (EPO).
EPOs are a short-term solution to deal with those situations in which persons are in urgent need of protection. In order to apply for an EPO, the person must be 16 years of age or older and must be a victim of domestic violence at the hands of an intimate partner that you currently live with, or have lived with in the past. You may also apply for an EPO if you have been the target of domestic violence from the parent of your child.
The process of obtaining an EPO and the definition of domestic violence is governed by the Domestic Violence Intervention Act (DVIA). Domestic violence occurs if someone hits you or does something to threaten you which causes a reasonable fear of harm. The fear of harm can be with respect to your physical safety or the safety of your property. Domestic violence includes threats or actual instances of sexual assault, sexual exploitation or molestation. Domestic violence can also include instances of physical confinement, and even a series of acts together that cause you to fear for your safety.
You do not have to go to court to apply for an EPO. The application is made over the phone. You can apply any day from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. If you are not able to apply, then someone can apply on your behalf such as a police officer, victim service worker or designated employee of a transition house.
As mentioned earlier, EPOs are intended to be a short-term solution for those in urgent need of protection. An EPO will not last longer than 30 days. In this period of time, an EPO can provide various and specific solutions to provide the protection that is needed. For instance, if the person who has perpetrated violence against you lives in your home, an EPO can empower the police to remove that person, and can give you exclusive occupation of the residence. If you decide to leave your home, the police can assist you in collecting your personal belongings. An EPO can also tell direct a perpetrator to stay away from any place where you may be, and it can direct that the perpetrator not contact you in any way.