Men with PO’S Are Placed at a Disadvantage
Video Transcribed: So I want to talk about prosecuting a protective order as a man and some of the hurdles that I’ve seen people come across men come across in prosecuting these protective orders. My name is Brian L. Jackson. I am a father’s rights lawyer in Tulsa with dads.law. And today, we’re going to talk about you guys who find themselves in the unenviable position of needing a protective order because of your ex’s violent behavior.
I’m going to start by saying it is an unenviable position to be in, whether male or female. Nobody wants to be in a position where they have to get a protective order because if you’re seeking one out legitimately, it’s because you’re the victim of abuse, stalking, or harassment, and that’s a serious situation in those situations can become dangerous. So when I say it’s an unenviable position, it is an unenviable position, no matter who you are.
Unfortunately, as men, guys come at this disadvantage, even if you’re on offense or prosecuting. I have, in my experience, found it’s harder to get law enforcement to take it seriously when a man is a victim. Many of the services out there don’t take it seriously when a man is a victim.
I came across an incident quite recently where I was prosecuting one. This was not the first time I’ve seen this happen where the respondent, the female respondent, shows up with two or three domestic violence counselors because she’s told her own story. I’ve seen that happen.
I prosecuted one about a year ago where she had … the respondent had managed to con into giving her a lawyer, even though she was the aggressor and not only was she the aggressor, but she had attacked my client with a weapon. I mean, unfortunately, these services are just … they’re not meant to be, but unfortunately, they are frequently not as accessible to men, and that’s a sad fact when you’re dealing with it.
As a man, when you’re prosecuting these, you have to be able to line up your evidence very tightly because, more than likely, if you file a PO on her, she’s going to turn around and say you’re the abuser and file one on you. I’ve seen that happen. So you need to be prepared with ironclad evidence.
And what that means is if you have a problem like that, obviously get to safety, but get pictures. If you have injuries, get pictures of your injuries. If you have a camera on your house, get that video if there is surveillance footage.
File the police report immediately. Don’t jerk around. Get medical help if you need it. And if you have an injury of any kind, whether it’s a bruise, cut, bite mark, or anything else, go get that treated.
One, because you don’t want it to become … and you want to take care … it’s a medical need, and you want to take care of it. But also, it’s a way to document it because the reality is, and it’s not fair, but as a man, you’re going to be looked at a lot more harshly, and you will probably be facing a situation where she’s going to try to make herself the victim. So understand that. Other things, make sure you’re safe.
If you cohabitate with her and she leaves, change the locks. If you have an alarming change, the alarm codes. You want to do those things. Just because she’s female doesn’t mean there isn’t a legitimate safety threat, and you should take it seriously. Anytime you’re talking about a domestic violence situation or situation where you have harassment and stalking, you should appropriately consider that a threat, even if it’s from a female, and deal with it accordingly.
Also, if the situation has come to the point where you’re looking to get out and file a protective order, do not communicate with her for any reason. Get a lawyer and use your lawyer to communicate if communication needs to occur. But you do not communicate with her. And there are a couple of really good reasons for that.
On defense, I use communications to show that there was no real fear and to undermine the credibility of a witness, and I will tell you I do that. But the other reason is that if she does decide to file something on you, don’t give her ammunition to shoot at you. Don’t do that. I mean, it’s stupid and dangerous, and it’s just going to cause you a problem, and it can complicate things.
And then you could wind up being the one getting a protective order entered against you. So don’t be stupid. If you’re at the point of it, it’s bad, and I’m going to file a protective order, you need to terminate any communications with her. If you have kids together, take the kids. That’s one time I will tell you to take the kids because if she wants to pick a fight over that, then that’s a fight worth having.
Now, suppose there are kids involved, one of the other things you need to be aware of. In that case, you are a mandatory reporter because everyone’s a mandatory reporter and domestic violence in the presence of children is reportable to DHS.
And here’s what I’m going to tell you guys, you want to be the one to get to the department first, not her, and the same with the law. So go to the law immediately if there’s an incident. Don’t wait until she goes and runs to them and accuses you of abuse. You go to the law, you go to DHS, and you get on it. That is one situation where I would say, if there’s an incident and you have children, you take your kids and go. And then you go to law enforcement, you go to DHS, and you’d be the one to do it first, but do it.
A couple of other things to be aware of in that situation, a protective order is not a custody order. They’re not intended to be a custody order, and statutorily, they’re not to be used as a custody order.
So if you’re prosecuting a protective order, then you need to be aware of this, and if you have kids and there’s nothing that says custody-wise who gets the kids, then you need to get an emergency filed ASAP, like yesterday. And that’s where again, you’ll probably want to get a good lawyer involved quickly.
I want to touch on a special situation because I mentioned kids. If you are an unmarried father and you are not adjudicated, that creates a unique problem because she legally has custody by statute.
So if you take the kids, all she’s got to do is go get RIT, and you’ll be compelled to give them back. And that’s sort of a situation; the best advice I can give you is to make sure you notify DHS of everything that’s happened and encourage them to step in.
The kids may end up in foster care for a little while, which sucks, and I generally don’t like to see kids go into foster care, but if the mom’s being violent and dangerous, that’s better than leaving them in that situation.
And unfortunately, unless you have your acknowledgment of paternity form Oklahoma, you do not have the standing to file an emergency to get custody of the kids, nor would you have standing, by the way, to file out a PO on behalf of the kids based on the domestic violence perpetrated against you.
So the best you can do in that situation in the short term is call DHS and make it clear to them what happened and that they need to step in ASAP. That’s the best you can do. And then, if you can, get a good lawyer, get a hold of vital records and get that form. If you’ve signed one. If you haven’t signed one, then you’ve got a problem. I’ll just tell you; you’ve got a problem.
But if you have, get that, because if you’re unmarried, it’s a special situation. It creates some unique problems. There is the option of going for guardianship and trying to get an emergency guardianship, and you may also be able to go that route.
That would be something to talk to an attorney about based on your circumstances because guardianships are a little more complicated. And if you have certain things in your history, then guardianship may not be an option. Also, if she accuses you of domestic violence, then a guardianship will not be an option. So just be aware of that. Weapons.
If you have weapons and are leaving over domestic violence, this is common sense, but I would suggest taking your weapons in anticipation that she may file something against you as well. If you’ve got a friend or somebody willing to keep an eye on those for you, have them secure them ahead of time because you may very well be looking at a situation where she files a protective order on you.
And in which case, you will most likely not be allowed to have weapons. But, if you leave, take the weapons and don’t be stupid about it and brandish them. Again, this should go without saying that anybody who owns firearms knows to be careful, but don’t brandish a gun on her guys.
So those are some things to be aware of about prosecuting POs as a man. And suppose you have questions about that or need help prosecuting a PO. In that case, If you have questions about any of that, if you ever need a Dad’s Child Custody Attorney in Tulsa, Oklahoma, you can find one at Dads.Law.