About Abuse

Safety in Court

May 2, 2016

Once you're inside the courthouse

  • Stay together with whoever came with you while inside the courthouse.  Ask your friend/family member to keep an eye on the surroundings and pay attention to safety considerations.  If you need to use the bathroom and it has a lot of stalls, ask your friend/family member to come into the bathroom with you.  If your friend/family member is unable to come into the bathroom with you, ask him/her to wait outside the bathroom for you.
  • Find someone who knows the courthouse well, like a domestic violence advocate or someone who works at the courthouse.  Ask them about safe places you can sit where you will be close to courthouse security but where you will still hear your name called when they call your case.  Ask them where all the exits are, in case you have to leave in a hurry.  Besides the main exit, there may be exits through the courtrooms, side exits, or fire exits that you could use in an emergency.
  • Ask the bailiff or courthouse security to keep the abuser away from you.  Let the bailiff or courthouse security know if the abuser sits near you or tries to harass you.  If you have a restraining order, remember that the order is still in effect while you are in the courthouse.  If the abuser violates the order while in the waiting room or in line at the courthouse entrance, you can report it to a court officer or call the police.