Monday, March 30, 2009

"No Hostile Contact"

In monitoring injunction hearings this afternoon, I witnessed a petitioner requesting an injunction against a former boyfriend with whom she now has a roommate relationship (and a joint apartment lease that doesn't expire until August). The Respondent admitted to withholding Petitioner's cell phone from her in order to check her text messages because he alleged that she was intimate with someone else and he had a right to know the details (withholding someone's ability to call for help & violating their privacy is a common power & control tactic of abusers). He claimed the injunction was only a tactic she was using to get out of the lease. The Petitioner stated that her 9-yr old sister was present in the apartment when the Respondent pushed her.

Judge Sally Kest, after stating that both parties were involved in hostilities (I don't recall testimony that the Petitioner had been violent - other than trying to grab her phone from the Respondent), granted a 6 month "no hostile contact" injunction. She then stated to the parties that they could both live in the apartment (at which point the Petitioner became panicky) and said the parties would have to work together to resolve the lease. The judge subsequently told the Petitioner that she wasn't requiring her to live in the apartment, just that she (the judge) wouldn't order one of the parties to leave. She then told the Respondent he could return to the residence, from which he'd been excluded when the temporary injuction had been served, and admonished him that it was his responsibility to leave if there was an argument.

"No Hostile Contact" orders are essentially unenforceable, unless there are eyewitnesses to an event. They give victims a false sense of security in believing that they can/will be enforced. Many abusers are very adept at threatening their victims with simple gestures or even an intimidating look that nobody else would recognize as a threat. It is rare for law enforcement to arrest someone for violating this type of court order unless there are injuries they can document or unless a third party witnesses a verbal assault. If judges are going to order "no hostile contact," they ought to grant permission for victims to record phone conversations without the abuser's permission. At least the victim will be able to provide evidence should the abuser violate the court order.

1 comment:

  1. You've clearly never been on the 'receiving end' of a hostile and/or non-hostile injunction achieved through perjury. It is not "rare" for law enforcement as you state. The person that has the "non-hostile" injunction has 'absolute' authority over the other individual. There is a clear imbalance in the relationship. Regardless of the facts, an abuser, or one who obtains injunctions under false pretenses, should never have that much power in a relationship. Besides, a piece of paper has never stopped a nut job (male or female) from committing horrific acts.