Do emergency protective orders really protect you?

Friday, February 11th 2005, 10:18 am
By: News On 6

Just a few hours before she was killed, Catherine Tudor filed an emergency protective order against her ex-husband. She warned authorities he was violent and may be armed. Before the paperwork was complete, Cory Baker turned his threats into reality.

So, do emergency protective orders really protect you? Or do they just make a dangerous situation worse? The News on 6's Heather Lewin has more on the story.

Melissa Schnur with DVIS: “Right when a woman takes active steps to leave her abuser. That is the most dangerous time in that relationship."

Tulsa Police get about 20,000 911 calls every year for domestic violence. Many victims in an effort to stop the abuse file a protective order. It's a step toward independence and safety, but it's one that must be taken carefully. Melissa Schnur: "In a domestic violence relationship the abuser has all the power and control and making any decisions has not been allowed for the victim. She has empowered herself enough to leave and so that threatens his sense of power and control very much and so he can become even more violent."

Because protective orders can push some abusers over the edge, experts say it's vital to have a safety plan, which may include telling your employer. Something many victims don't want to do and Katherine Tudor may not have had time to. Melissa Schnur: "A lot of times women don't want to tell employers about their abuse because perhaps that job that they're getting that income for is what's allowing them to take the steps to seek independence."

But Schnur says employers can play a vital part, knowing to call police as soon as the abuser is spotted. A safety plan outlines steps to take in an emergency- escape routes if the abuser attacks, a code word for family and friends to get help, establish a safe place to go. And a personal pledge on what to do if you feel lonely and ready to return to the abuser.

But even if you follow the rules, sometimes nothing can be done. Melissa Schnur: "She was taking steps to reach out, to tell people what was going on and that she was fearful for her life. Nothing is going to stop an abuser that is utterly determined to kill his partner."

Nearly 4,000 protective orders were filed in Tulsa County last year. 423 already this year. Counselors point out while there are some tragic cases; the majority of those accomplish what they're designed to do.