Legal Information: Delaware

Restraining Orders

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September 13, 2023

What is the legal definition of abuse in Delaware?

This section defines domestic violence for the purposes of getting an order of protection from abuse.  Delaware law defines “domestic violence” as the occurrence of one or more of the following acts of “abuse” between family or household members:

  • causing or attempting to cause actual physical injury or a sexual offense;
  • placing or attempting to place you in fear of physical injury or a sexual offense being committed against you or another person;
  • damaging, destroying, or taking property;
  • causing physical injury to a pet or service animal;
  • engaging in a course of alarming or distressing conduct that is likely to cause fear or emotional distress or cause a violent or disorderly response, including conduct that is directed towards a pet or service animal;
  • trespassing;
  • child abuse, as defined by law;
  • kidnapping;
  • unlawful imprisonment;
  • interference with custody; or
  • any of the following acts when used as a method of coercion, control, punishment, or intimidation against you: 
    • causing or attempting to cause physical injury to a pet who you have close bond with;
    • acting in a way that is likely to cause you to fear that a pet who you have close bond with will be physically injured; or
    • committing the crime of cruelty to animals against a pet who you have close bond with; or
  • any other conduct that a reasonable person would find threatening or harmful.1  

1 10 Del. C. § 1041(1), (2) 

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