WomensLaw is not just for women. We serve and support all survivors, no matter their sex or gender.

Important: Even if courts are closed, you can still file for a protection order and other emergency relief. See our FAQ on Courts and COVID-19.

Legal Information: District of Columbia

Restraining Orders

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October 29, 2020

Step 2: Fill out a petition for a civil protection order.

On the petition, you will be the “petitioner” and the abuser will be the “respondent.” An intake counselor will help you with the paperwork.

Write about the most recent incident of violence, using descriptive language - words like “slapping,” “hitting,” “grabbing,” “threatening,” “choking,” etc. - that fits your situation. Include details and dates, if possible. Be specific.

Be prepared that this process may take several hours. If your children are toilet-trained, they can stay in the courthouse daycare center while you file this petition if you file at the DVIC located in the court. If they are not toilet trained or if you file at the DVIC located at United Medical Center, you will have to keep them with you.

Note: If the abuser was arrested, and there is a criminal case against him/her, you may meet with someone from the U.S. Attorney’s Office called a victim witness advocate. You are known as the “complaining witness” in the criminal case. The advocate may help you prepare for the criminal case and get you other needed assistance. The criminal case is separate and different from the civil case you are filing.