It’s Just a Piece of Paper
By: Turning Point Staff
Did you know that Personal Protection Orders (PPO’s) are just a piece of paper? Also, they cannot stop bullets? As an advocate working in the PPO Office, I hear this often from individuals that are part of the same systems survivors turn to for help and protection. Do they not realize that every law in this country is JUST A PIECE OF PAPER until someone in power decides to take it seriously and enforce it!
Often times the advice and actions of these systems send mixed messages. “Just go get a PPO”. “We can’t do anything unless you have a PPO”. “You have a PPO? If you want it enforced you have to go back to the court”. “If you really wanted to keep yourself and your children safe, you would get a PPO”. “You will lose your housing if you don’t have a PPO”. So even when a survivor is able to jump through all the hoops in a system designed to help them and get a PPO granted, they continuously receive the run around. It is a cycle of bureaucracy that continues to create barriers. In 2011 in Macomb County only 41% of domestic PPO’s were granted to the petitioner’s seeking protection from the court.
Recently, a survivor that was granted a PPO came back into our office for help. Her ex-husband had violated the order every day since she had him served. He has been found guilty of violating the PPO and is awaiting sentencing on that charge. All the while he continues to stalk and threaten her, yet the local police department insists that they cannot arrest him for the daily violations; she must go to the court and file a motion regarding all of the violations, again. How is this woman supposed to live her life, go to work, take care of her kids? She is consumed with trying to hold her ex-husband accountable because the system is not. That shouldn’t be her burden to carry. And if it is, why did she even file or need the PPO. How is it helping her? Isn’t the criminal justice system supposed to hold criminals accountable? Is it because in our society we still blame the victim for domestic violence and believe she has some culpability?
The fact is, according to recent research, PPO’s are effective when enforced properly. Which means it can and should be a useful tool in a survivor’s safety plan, but until the same system that grants, serves and enforces these PPO’s actually treat them as more than just a piece of paper, why would a batterer? For More Information go to www.turningpointmacomb.org