Seeking Protection





Rhea County Courthouse, Dayton

STEP ONE: Victims should call one of the organizations below before filing a petition for an Order of Protection:

THE PARTNERSHIP (formerly known as

Family and Children’s Services)

P.O. Box 6234

Chattanooga, TN 37401

423-755-2700 (Hamilton and Marion Counties)


AVALON CENTER (formerly Battered Women)

P.O. Box 3063

Crossville, TN 38557

800-641-3434 (Bledsoe and Rhea Counties)



704 W. Madison Ave

Athens, TN 37303

423-745-5289 (McMinn and Meigs Counties)



485 Second Street, SE

Cleveland, TN 37311

423-476-9339 (Bradley and Polk Counties)



P.O. Box 134

Alcoa, TN 37701

865-982-1087 (Monroe County)



P.O. Box 621

McMinnville, TN 37110

800-675-0766 (Sequatchie County)


STEP TWO: After contacting the organization, then go to the clerk's office and complete the petition by following these instructions:



Use specific instances not general statements. Be as complete as possible. Example: don’t say he or she verbally and emotionally abused me for months. Instead, cite every occasion by date, the words and gestures used, the fear caused, the witnesses present, etc. Use multiple pages if necessary. Reason: judges may not allow evidence of prior abuse if the defendant is not given notice in the petition about what he must defend against, instance by instance.



Don’t wait to file the petition until a divorce proceeding has started or is imminent. Judges may then think that the Order of Protection proceedings are being used only for the purpose of enhancing your position in the divorce negotiations.



Be aware that following others’ advice to reconcile can be used against you. Judges ask: why did you go back to live with a man or woman who was trying to kill you?



Ask for all relief that is truly needed. Judges often view Orders of Protection as impermissible “quickie divorces” and thus will not grant certain relief discussed below. But, when there is real need and no prospect of satisfactory immediate relief in divorce proceedings, you should ask for (1) temporary custody of children, (2) child support, (3) alimony, and (4) exclusive possession of the residence.



Are you willing to accept a restraining order? This could be one that applies to both of you (a mutual restraining order) or one that is against the other spouse or partner only. While we do not usually advocate their use, they may be the best alternatives under some circumstances: (1) key witnesses are not available, (2) your spouse or partner may lose a job that can not easily be replaced, or (3) you and your spouse or partner are not likely to come into contact anyway. If you are willing to accept the restraining order, tell the judge or the lawyer for the defendant, not the clerk when you file the petition.


Ask us or another lawyer if you need advice on these key points.


The Petition for an Order of Protection can be downloaded from this website before you go to the clerk's office.  

STEP THREE: To prepare for the hearing before the judge, obtain the following if they are relevant and if they are available: 

bullet Photographs showing your injuries.
bullet Police reports related to the incident.
bullet The names and phone numbers of people who are willing to be witnesses.  (Make sure they will be present at the hearing.)
bullet Medical records related to any injuries caused during the incident or any past incidents of domestic violence between the abuser and you.
bullet The Checklist for Victims on this website.  Complete it before the hearing.
bullet The Child Custody Questionnaire on this website. Complete it before the hearing.
bullet The name of the lawyer for your abuser.
bullet The names of any witnesses your abuser may ask to testify.
bullet Your abuser’s criminal record (not just arrest reports).

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This website has been supported by grants awarded by the Violence Against Women Grants Office, Office of Justice Programs, U.S. Department of Justice and a sub-grant from the Office of Criminal Justice Programs, State of Tennessee.  Points of view in this website are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the official position or policies of either government.

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