There are many laws that protect victims from abuse. We explain a little bit about these laws later on this page. Some abuse is a crime. Is someone harming you? You can call the police for help. The state may prosecute your abuser in criminal court. But a lot of abuse isn't criminal.
There are also civil (non-criminal) laws to protect you from abuse. You may qualify for a court order to protect you from more abuse. Is your abuser abusing your children? This order can also protect your children. The order is called an Relief from Abuse order or Abuse Prevention order. Sometimes people also call these Restraining Orders.
What if my abuser isn't breaking any laws? Abuse is wrong even if it doesn't break any laws. You can get help. You can call your local domestic violence group. Find your local domestic violence group on the Vermont Network Against Domestic and Sexual Violence's website.
Each law to protect victims has a different legal rule or "standard" for what that law counts as "abuse." Do you want legal protection from abuse? You or the State of Vermont will have to show that what your abuser did counts as "abuse" under a particular law.
Is the State prosecuting your abuser under the criminal law? The State will have to show that what your abuser did to you was criminal. This is the hardest kind of abuse or standard for abuse to prove. The State will bring the case and try to prove it.
Do you want to get a civil Relief from Abuse order to protect you from your abuser? There are two different laws that let victims get Relief from Abuse orders. You will need to make a written statement and bring paperwork to the court. The police may not be able to help you get the Relief from Abuse order.
You may be able to get a Relief from Abuse order under the first law if at least one of the following is true:
- the abuser is your family member
- you date or ever dated your abuser
- you and the abuser have ever had sex
- you live with your abuser or
- you've ever lived with your abuser
The other law protects certain people with disabilities and certain older people from abuse. You will have to show a Family Court judge that what your abuser did was against at least one of these laws.