Can the abuser have a gun?
Once you get a protection order, there may be laws that prohibit the respondent from having a gun in his/her possession. There are a few places where you can find this information:
- first, read the questions on this page to see if judges in Iowa have to power to remove guns as part of a temporary or final order;
- second, go to our State Gun Laws section to read about your state’s specific gun-related laws; and
- third you can read our Federal Gun Laws section to understand the federal laws that apply to all states.
You can read more about keeping an abuser from accessing guns on the National Domestic Violence and Firearms Resource Center’s website.
What should I do when I leave the courthouse?
- Review the order before you leave the courthouse. If something is wrong or missing, ask the clerk to correct the order before you leave.
- Make several copies of the protective order as soon as possible.
- Keep a copy of the order with you at all times.
- Leave copies of the order at your work place, at your home, at the children’s school or daycare, in your car, with a sympathetic neighbor, and so on.
- Give a copy to the security guard or person at the front desk where you live and/or work.
- Give a copy of the order to anyone who is named in and protected by the order.
- If the court has not given you an extra copy for your local law enforcement agency, take one of your extra copies and deliver it to them.
- You may wish to consider changing your locks and your phone number.
One week after court, call your local law enforcement offices to make sure they have received copies of the protective order from the clerk.
You may also wish to make a safety plan. Women can do a number of things to increase their safety during violent incidents, when preparing to leave an abusive relationship, and when they are at home, work, and school. Many batterers obey protective orders, but some do not and it is important to build on the things you have already been doing to keep yourself safe. Click on the following link for suggestions on Safety Tips. (You can access the staying safe information any time from the WomensLaw.org Home page.)
I was not granted a protective order. What can I do?
If you are not granted protective order, there are still some things you can do to stay safe. It might be a good idea to contact one of the domestic violence resource centers in your area to get help, support, and advice on how to stay safe. They can help you develop a safety plan and help connect you with the resources you need. For safety planning help, ideas, and information, go to our Safety Tips page. You will find a list of Iowa resources on our Places that Help page.
If you were not granted protective order because your relationship with the abuser does not qualify, you may be able to seek protection through a criminal no contact order. See What if I don’t qualify for a protective order?
You may also be able to reapply for a protective order if a new incident of domestic abuse occurs after you are denied the order. If you believe the judge made an error of law, you can talk to a lawyer about the possibility of an appeal. Here is basic information on Filing an Appeal. Generally, appeals are complicated and you will most likely need the help of a lawyer.
What can I do if the abuser violates the order?
Violating a protective order is against the law. There are two ways to get help if the abuser violates the protective order.
Through the Police or Sheriff (Criminal)
If the abuser violates the protective order, you can call 911 even if you think it is a minor violation. In some cases, the abuser can be arrested right away. Tell the officers you have a protective order and the abuser is violating it. The abuser can be arrested and prosecuted for the crime of violating the order in addition to any crimes s/he committed while violating it (such as assault, stalking, etc.)
It is a good idea to write down the name of the responding officer(s) and their badge number in case you want to follow up on your case. You may want to make sure a police report is filled out, even if no arrest is made. If you have legal documentation of all violations of the order, it may help you have the order extended or modified in the future.
Through the Civil Court System (Civil)
You may file for civil contempt in the court that issued the order if the abuser violates the order in any way. To file for civil contempt, go to the clerk’s office and tell him/her you want to start contempt proceedings against the abuser. You will have to fill out some forms, which the court clerk will give you. You will also have to attend a court hearing to prove that the abuser violated the order.
How do I change or extend my order?
To modify your order, go back to the court where you got it and file a petition with the clerk. Only a judge can modify or terminate a protective order. The court may be less willing to offer you its protection in the future if you have an order dismissed.
A judge may extend your order by granting a renewal for up to one year. You may have it renewed more than once. You must fill out the “Request to Cancel or Change a Chapter 236 Protective Order” form. You must submit this form to the court before your first order expires. The Iowa court system has a booklet that discusses extending an order (click on the first link called “protect yourself from domestic violence.”)
You will have to attend a short court hearing (which the abuser will also attend) where you must prove to the court that the abuser is still a threat to your safety.
Can I "violate" my own order?
Although in most states, a petitioner cannot “violate” his/her own order since the order puts limits on an abuser’s behavior, not the victim’s behavior, Iowa is different. In Iowa, victims with protective orders can be held in contempt for “aiding and abetting” in the violation of their own protective orders. Basically, this means that if you have a no contact order or a stay away order and you decide to still talk to the abuser or see him/her, you can be charged with “helping” the abuser violate the order.
It appears that this applies even to minors who have a protective order that was granted on their behalf. The petition, which is filled out by the minor’s parent or guardian, makes the petitioner check off a box that says “I…understand that my child could be arrested and jailed for aiding and abetting Defendant’s violation of the Protective Order.”2
1 See Henley v. Iowa District Court for Emmet County, 533 N.W. 2d 199 (1995); see Petition for Relief from Domestic Abuse, page 6
2 See Petition for Relief from Domestic Abuse on Behalf of a Minor Child, page 6
What happens if I move?
If you move within Iowa, your order will still be valid and good. It is a good idea to call the clerk to change your address.
Additionally, the federal law provides what is called “Full Faith and Credit,” which means that once you have a criminal or civil protective order, it follows you wherever you go, including U.S. Territories and tribal lands. Different states have different rules for enforcing out-of-state protection orders. You can find out about your state’s policies by contacting a domestic violence program, the clerk of courts, or the prosecutor (district attorney) in your area.
If you are moving out of state, you should call the domestic violence program in the state where you are going to find out how that state treats out-of-state orders. If you are moving to a new state, you may also call the National Center on Full Faith and Credit (1-800-903-0111) for information on enforcing your order there.
Note: Civil protective orders may not be enforceable on military bases, and military protective orders may not be enforceable off base. Please check with your local police department, court clerk, and/or domestic violence advocate for more details. Please see our Military Info page for more information.