How effective are orders of protection? A survivor shares her story

How effective are orders of protection? A survivor shares her story

ROCHESTER, N.Y. — A newly proposed bill in New York is aiming to expand protection for domestic violence victims.

The bill is called Melanie’s Law. It has passed the state Senate and is waiting for a vote by the state Assembly. The bill would allow courts in New York to issue orders of protection for family members of domestic violence victims and survivors.

A survivor — that’s what one victim who we spoke with says she is. She didn’t want to be identified after enduring abuse from her partner for three years.

“I mean dresses ripped clean from my body. While I’m trying to leave I wasn’t allowed to leave. I wasn’t allowed to go anywhere. I was held captive in my own home,” she said.

She is thankful she wasn’t killed while trying to escape, but she was hospitalized.

“I got my jaw broken and it took three surgeries to fix my face. I didn’t know if I would look the same, I couldn’t eat. I still have three plates in my face and six screws.”

She had multiple orders of protection against her ex-boyfriend. However, she believes it’s just a piece of paper and says he broke the orders and broke her jaw.

“Every single time he would just get out the next day. He would be right back at my house. The order of protection doesn’t do anything. It is literally a piece of paper. First of all, you have to wait for the police to arrive. It is not an urgent matter; they’re not coming rushing for a restraining order,” she said.

The General Counsel for the New York State Office for Prevention of Domestic Violence says an order of protection is issued by judges and prevents the abuser from acts of harm.

But how effective are they?

“These are orders, but an order can be violated. Often that’s why we recommend with someone that’s in a domestic violence situation that they go talk to an advocate with a domestic violence program before filing an order with the court,” Jara Traina said.

This victim explained her ex-boyfriend threatened and stalked her family. If Melanie’s Law passes it would allow judges to issue orders of protection needed for families of victims against the dangerousness of individuals.

“I know where I live if a person wants to get their hands on a weapon they’re going to get their hands on a weapon,” she said.

Besides Melanie’s Law on the state level, the U.S. Supreme Court is hearing arguments on whether or not to uphold a law that prevents those with domestic violence orders of protection from having a gun.

There is help available for people facing domestic violence. Here are some resources:

NYS Domestic and Sexual Violence Hotline:

  • Text: 844.997.2121
  • Call: 800.942.6906
  • Chat:

Monroe County Providers

  • Lifespan of Greater Rochester, Inc. Phone: 585-244-8400
  • Willow Domestic Violence Center of Greater Rochester Inc. Hotline: 585-222-7233