Safety in Court

May 2, 2016

Getting to the courthouse

  • Try to get to court at a different time than you think the abuser will arrive to avoid seeing him/her on the street or in line to enter the court. If the abuser is always late, try arriving early. If the abuser always arrives early, try arriving closer to your hearing time or come with a friend. Remember: make sure to leave plenty of time to get through the lines, metal detectors, etc., so that you get to the hearing on time. If you are late, the case may be called without you and dismissed. Finding a domestic violence advocate to go with you can really help with safety. Call the National Domestic Violence Hotline (1-800-799-SAFE) to find help near you. You can also find a list of domestic violence organizations in your area in our Advocates and Shelters section.
  • See if your police department or sheriff's department will take you to the courthouse. Meet them somewhere other than the courthouse and then ask the officer to walk you inside. Have the officer wait with you until you find the bailiff or courthouse security and let them know your situation. Try to sit near the court officers or security guards if you can.
  • Bring a friend or family member with you so you won’t have to be alone at all during the day.
  • If your friend or family member cannot spend the day in court with you, ask that person to drive you to court. It's best to get someone whose car the abuser doesn't know. Ask him/her to drop you off at the courthouse entrance so you don't have to walk alone through the parking lot.
  • If you have to drive yourself to court and you are worried that the abuser will find your car and wait for you there when court is over, try to use a car the abuser will not recognize. If you can, you may want to borrow or rent a car that the abuser won’t recognize.