Battered Women
1310 S. FRONT ST. • MARQUETTE, MI 49855
Phone 906/225-1346 • FAX 906/225-1370 • E-mail [email protected]
Written by:
Susan G.S. McGee
Table of Contents—
Note: You don’t have to read all of this at once!
Go to the section that you are most interested in
—each part can stand alone.
Statement of Purpose, Acknowledgments
Definition of Terms
General Statement
Warning Signs of Abusers
What Is Abuse?
Power and Control Wheel
Questions Survivors Ask
What Can I Do To Be Safe?
Getting Help
Safety Planning
What About My Children?
Child Abuse And Neglect
Education And Counseling For Assailants
Alcohol And Other Drugs
If You Are A Lesbian Or Gay Male Survivor
If You Have A Physical Disability
If You Are A Survivor And An Elder
If You Are A Woman of Color
If You Are A Survivor of Dating Violence
If You Are Also A Victim of Sexual Assault
If You Are a Battered Immigrant Woman
PART II —The Legal System
How Does It Work? Legal Terms
What Is The Difference Between Civil And
Criminal Cases?
Different Types Of Courts
When Is Abuse Or Battering A Crime?
• Assault
• Stalking
• Criminal Sexual Conduct
Going To Court
The Police Response
If He Is Arrested, What Happens Next?
Misdemeanor Crimes: The Procedure
Felony Crimes: The Procedure
Civil Remedies
• Divorce
• Custody
• Visitation
• Civil Suits
• Personal Protection Orders
Federal laws
State laws
Judges Of Marquette County Trial Courts
Judges Of Alger County Trial Courts
Helpful Resources
Harbor House Affirmation
Published by:
Marquette Women’s Center
Harbor House
Written By:
Susan G.S. McGee
© 1996
Revised 2001
DVPSH/Safe House
and Susan McGee
This is a handbook for battered women—to help them
survive. Its purpose is to define abuse, to give support,
encouragement, and information to survivors, and to provide
information about legal rights and options.
It is not intended to dispense legal advice.
Grateful thanks to all those people in the criminal justice system who
contributed to the SAFE House’s knowledge and information.
This manual was written by Susan McGee, Executive Director of the SAFE
House. Contributions for this revision came from Lore Ann Rogers, Hon.
Elizabeth Pollard Hines, Julie Youdovin, Erin House, and Jamie Steele.
Copyright 1996. DVPSH/Safe House.
and Susan G.S. McGee. Revised 1999. Revised 2001.
The handbook was printed by one of the following grants/funders:
This project Survivor s Handbook was supported by Crime Victim
Assistance Grant Award CVA # 20315-5V00 awarded to the Women s Center,
Inc. by the Michigan Crime Victim Services Commission, Michigan
Departemnt of Community Health. The grant award of $162,037.00, comes
from the Federal Crime Victims Fund, established by the Victims of Crime Act
of 1984. The Women s Center, Inc. provides the required match by the use of
volunteers (4051 volunteer hours valued at $10) or $40509.00.
Survivor or victim both mean the person in the relationship who
is being hit, beaten, abused, raped and controlled. The legal system
uses the word “victim.” In this booklet, we use the word survivor.
We use the term survivor because it emphasizes that battered
women are strong, courageous people who have survived terrible
Battered woman is any woman who has been assaulted or abused. Lesbians and
men (gay and straight) can also be victimized by their partners. Partner means
someone you’re dating, used to date, or with whom you have or had a romantic or
sexual relationship. It doesn’t mean just married people. We use the term “battered
woman” because the vast majority of people who are battered are women.
The Women’s Center/Harbor House offers services to any person who is
victimized in a relationship. This includes lesbians and men (both heterosexual
and gay). If you need help, call us!
All of the laws discussed in this booklet also protect men battered by women,
and most of them also protect lesbians and gay men.
Domestic violence, battering, abuse, and domestic abuse mean the same thing
in this booklet. They all describe a pattern of coercive control which one person
exercises over another. Abusers use physical and sexual violence, threats, money,
and emotional and psychological abuse to control their partners and get their way.
Spouse abuse means domestic violence between people who are married. Wife
beating also means domestic violence. We don’t use spouse abuse or wife beating
because people who are living together, having sex, or dating can be in violent
relationships, not just married people.
Domestic assault refers to a type of abuse that is a crime. Something can be
abusive, but not criminal. For instance, breaking dishes that you both own, or
calling you a whore, are abusive, but are not crimes under our law.
Assailant and batterer both mean the same thing in this booklet. It is the
person in the relationship who is hitting, controlling and abusing his partner. We
use the pronoun “he” or “him” when referring to assailants in this booklet, but as
we said before, there are times when the assailant is a “she.”
Partner. In this booklet, the word partner means someone in an intimate
relationship with another person. A partner could be a wife, husband, lover,
boyfriend, girlfriend or date. A domestic partner is a person with whom you have
registered a domestic partnership. Lesbians and gay men may register their
partnership, and a few mixed gender couples do too.
Advocate. In this booklet, an advocate is a trained domestic violence counselor.
She will provide you with support and information about your rights and options.
Any communication with her is private and confidential. She will NOT tell your
assailant anything you say. She will not tell you what to do nor will she judge or
evaluate you, but will help you make your own decisions, and figure out how to
best get what you need, deserve and want. She will believe in you, encourage you and
fight for you.
Battering is a pattern of coercive
control that one person
exercises over another.
We use the term survivor
because it underlines that battered
women are strong, courageous
people who have survived terrible attacks.
Beating another person is a crime. It makes no difference if
the person who beats you is a friend, a relative, your boyfriend,
your lover, or your husband.
Domestic assault is against the law. Hitting, choking,
shoving, slapping, biting, burning, or kicking someone is a crime.
Forcing someone to have sex is against the law - even if the
person who forces you to have sex is your husband. The person
who hits you may tell you that it’s your fault and that you made him do it. He
may tell you he has a right to hit you because . . . you’re crazy, drunk, a slut, a
bad mother, a nag, etc. This is wrong.
Physical violence is unacceptable in intimate relationships. and, it’s a crime.
Self-defense is not a crime. If you push your partner to get away while he’s
hitting you, or if you scratch his face while he’s choking you, that’s self defense.
Your batterer may tell you that you’re just as bad because you tried to defend
yourself. That’s wrong.
Your batterer wants you to believe that you’ll never make it on your own and
that you’ll never get away from him. Contrary to the newspapers and television,
battered women leave their boyfriends and husbands all the time. It can be a
long, hard struggle. Your batterer may be most dangerous and violent after
you’ve left—when he’s trying to get you back. Nonetheless, thousands of women
who were once beaten are now safe.
Call Our 24 Hour Crisis Line
226-6611 Marquette County
1-800-455-6611 Alger County
You can always call back - even if you have called before. You don’t have to
be interested in shelter; you don’t have to have made the decision to leave. You
can call just to talk, or to get information. You don’t have to give your name
when you call.
Many assailants come across as charming and pleasant people
at the beginning of the relationship. They often continue to display
these qualities in public while being abusive in private.
The following are warning signs of abusers BUT there is no
sure-fire way to identify a batterer ahead of time.
• Is he very, very jealous?
• Does he want to know where you are every single minute?
• Does he drive away your friends and family?
• Does he have extreme highs and lows?
• Is he cruel to animals?
• Has he hit a former partner? Does he tell you in detail how terrible every
former girlfriend was? Does he claim that former partners lied about him
and put him in jail?
• Does he believe you belong to him? Does he tell you it’s you and he against
the world?
• When he gets angry, are you afraid of him?
• Did he grow up in a violent family?
• Does he say he can’t “help” losing his temper?
• Does he say it’s your fault when he is in a rage?
• Does he have contempt for women?
• Does he act like two totally different people? (Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde?)
• Does he tell you he has to restrain you for your own good?
Abuse is a pattern. It’s not just one hit. It’s one person scaring
the other person into doing what he wants her to do. It’s about
one person controlling the other. Abuse can be physical,
emotional, and/or sexual. It usually is a whole lot of different
methods of control (ways that one person makes the other person
do what he wants). The Power and Control Wheel (see Section
VI) shows some of the different tactics (or ways) that one person controls
another. It was made up by a group of women who had been abused.
Many women don’t think of themselves as being “battered.” They don’t see
the things their partner does to them as abusive, and they don’t see how they are
part of a pattern. Assailants blame everyone and everything but themselves for
the abuse. They try to convince their partners that they can’t stop or that they
have good reasons or excuses for the abuse.
A woman may be forced by her boyfriend to have sex, but she doesn’t see it
as rape.
Think about some of the following questions, and see if you may be abused.
(You don’t have to answer “yes” to all of them to have been abused.)
• Have you been hit? slapped? pushed?
• Has your partner pulled your hair out? Restrained you? Prevented you
from leaving?
• Have you been grabbed? shaken? bit?
• Have you been choked?
• Has your partner used an object to hit you? Iron? Telephone? Belt?
• Have you had bruises from being hit, held or squeezed?
• Have you had a black eye, cut lip, or broken tooth from being attacked?
• Has your partner threatened you with a weapon?
• Has your partner used a weapon against you? Gun? Knife?
• Have you had to see a doctor because of an injury?
• Has he threatened to hurt the children if you don’t do what he says?
• Has he threatened to kill you? Your children? Your family? Your friends?
Your pets?
• Has he demanded sex to “make up” after an attack?
• Has he forced you to have sex? Oral sex? Anal sex?
• Has he forced you to have sex with others?
• Has he forced you to have sex in front of the children?
• Has he put objects into you against your will?
• Has he forced you to have sex with an animal?
• Has he stopped you from taking classes?
• Has he stopped you from getting a job?
• Has he stopped you from going to work, or shown up at work and abused or
threatened you there?
• Does he keep/take your paycheck and give you a little bit back, or make you
ask for money you need?
• Does he keep all the money under his control?
• Does he not let you go places - house of worship, to visit friends or family?
• Does he not let you use the car? Does he take your keys or disable your car?
Does he put all the vehicles in his name?
• Does he not pay the bills?
• Does he fight with your friends and family, call them names and in general
make it hard for them to see you?
• Does he make you tell him where you’ve been every minute?
• Does he make you write down what you’ve done all day?
• Does he call frequently to check up on you when you’re not with him?
• Does he call you names? Does he tell you that you are ugly, fat, stupid, a
bitch, a slut or a whore?
• Does he say that no one would ever want you if you left him?
• Does he tell you you’re not a real woman?
• Does he accuse you of having sex with every man you meet, or smile at, or
talk to?
• Does he repeatedly, and wrongfully, accuse you of being unfaithful?
• Do you change what you want to do or plan to do because you’re scared of
his temper?
• Do you feel like you’re walking on eggshells?
• Are you afraid that if you left him he would kill you?
• Are you afraid if you left him, he would kill himself?
A woman may be forced by her
boyfriend to have sex,
but she doesn’t see it as rape.
A woman is physically assaulted
within her home every 15 seconds
in the United States.
• Has he hurt or killed your pets?
• Has he made you do things that you’re ashamed of?
• Has he made you commit a crime?
• Does he encourage you to drink too much?
• Does he make or force you to use drugs?
• Has he prevented you from using the toilet?
• Woke you up every few minutes or every half an hour? Withheld food from
you for long periods of time?
• If you are sick, or have a chronic illness or developmental disability, does he
withhold medication from you?
• If you are addicted to alcohol or other drugs, does he buy you liquor or drugs?
Does he stop you from going to meetings?
• After he has hit you, does he act sweet and loving? Does he say he’s sorry,
buy you gifts, cry, and say he’ll never do it again?
• Are you afraid of him? Are you afraid of what he might do if you
“crossed” him?
If you are not sure you’re being abused, call us and let us help figure it out
with you.
This chart is a conceptual way of looking at the primary tactics
and behaviors that individual abusers use to get and maintain
control in their relationships. Battering is intentional. It’s used
to gain power and control over another person. Physical abuse
is only one part of a whole lot of methods an abuser uses against
his partner. Battering is never one assault. This chart uses a
wheel to show the relationship of physical abuse to other forms of abuse. Each
spoke represents a tactic used to control or gain power, which is the hub of the
wheel. The rim that surrounds and supports the spokes is physical abuse. It holds
the system together and gives it strength.
The wheel was designed by a group of battered women and their advocates
including Ellen Pence, Susan Schechter, Barbara Hart, Joe Morse, Michael
Paymar and Miguel Gil. Many thanks to the Duluth Abuse Intervention Project
in Minnesota for allowing its free use.
Am I really a battered woman?
A lot of women who have been assaulted don’t want to think
of themselves as battered. Our society has taught us to believe
that battered women have low self-esteem, are weak, or
masochistic. No one wants to think of herself in that way. In fact,
battered women come from all races, are rich and poor and
everything in between, have lots of education or none, and have no special
personality characteristics.
The only thing that all battered women have in common is that their partner
has caused them to live in fear and has tried to take control of their lives.
If you identify yourself as a battered woman, you might have to accept that
you can’t change your partner, and that he has a serious problem with violence.
Many women don’t want to think of their husbands or boyfriends as batterers.
If you can’t figure out whether you have been battered, call our crisis line, and
talk to one of our counselor/advocates.
Is it just the drinking?
No. If he stopped drinking, he wouldn’t stop being abusive.
A lot of times assailants will drink so that they can have an excuse for
assaulting their partners. Many batterers blame their drinking or drug use for
their violence, and claim they cannot help themselves. That is not true. They
have the choice not to batter. They also have the choice to seek help for their
use of alcohol or other drugs.
A lot of batterers claim that they can’t help what they do when they are drunk
or high—that they are out of control and therefore not responsible for what they
do. In fact, a lot of people drink, but only some assault their partners.
Batterers’ judgement and physical ability may be harmed by their drinking or
drug use. If he is trying to strangle you into unconsciousness, and he is drinking,
he might misjudge and kill you. If he pushes you, he might miss, and push you
down the stairs. But people will not commit acts that they feel are totally wrong
even when drinking. For more information, see Section XIV.
Could I be killed?
One third of all female homicide victims are killed by their husband or an
intimate partner. If you are battered, you are in danger of being killed. Most
homicides occur after women have left or when assailants realize deep down that
they are leaving for good.
Assessing Lethality
The following are signs or indicators that your partner might kill you. There
is no guarantee that if he does not fit this picture, he will not kill you. If all the
answers to these questions are no, that does not mean you are necessarily safe
from death.
• Has he threatened to kill you, your children, or a member of your family?
• Has he threatened or tried to kill himself? Beware! Batterers often kill their
partners BEFORE killing themselves?
• Does he have fantasies about killing you, or the children? The more details,
the more danger.
• Does he own weapons? Has he ever used them or threatened to use them in
the past?
• Does he believe he owns you and that you have no right to life without him?
• Does he see you as the center of the universe? Can he not think about life
without you?
• Has he been seriously, acutely depressed?
• Does he talk about how you have stolen his children?
• Can he find you? Does he know where you are? (If he can’t find you, he
can’t kill you.)
• If you have left, has he tracked your every move for days or weeks?
• Has he taken you hostage?
• Is there a lot of sexual violence, rape and sexual humiliation in
the relationship?
• Have you told him you’re leaving? Does he think you’re leaving?
Have divorce papers been filed? Has he just been served with a personal
protection order?
(This is a time of great danger—you need to take special care.)
• Has he been drinking or using drugs heavily? If so, you are in
greater danger.
• Has he killed or mutilated a pet?
• Has his behavior changed a lot recently? Is he doing things that he wouldn’t
ever have done in the past? Is he radically changing and escalating his
patterns of abuse?
The concept of lethality assessment was developed by survivor Barbara
Hart, and modified by many.
Can I change him? Can I help him?
No. He has to make the decision to change. You cannot save him.
The only thing you can do for him is to give him a referral to assailants’
counseling and hope he goes.
He says he’s sorry and that he’ll never do it again. Can I trust that?
No. Many survivors experience a “honeymoon” or “respite” period after an
assault. Many assailants say they are sorry after an attack. Often they will also
cry, plead, apologize, and send gifts.
Some will enter counseling once or twice, and then drop out. He might share
some of his grief and pain with you. He’ll seem vulnerable and open to you. He
will remind you of the man you fell in love with. However, eventually, you will
be assaulted again. (In some cases, assailants decide that they can control their
partners without physical assaults, and escalate the psychological controls—
controlling money, controlling access to children, convincing their partners that
they will lose their children if they leave. They don’t have to hit any more,
because their victims know that they are capable of brutality and violence).
Some survivors say that the apologies and gifts are just another method of
control. He’s afraid you will leave. Being abusive will strengthen your resolution
to go, so he tries being sweet and loving instead.
Violence never goes away by itself. It usually increases in frequency and
intensity over time.
Battering is a behavior that is learned. It’s learned in families, and it’s learned
in our culture. It is developed and practiced over time. It takes specialized work
by counselors trained to deal with this problem for batterers to have a chance to
change. (For more information, see Section XIII)
Will he go to prison?
Usually he will not. In most cases, domestic assailants are charged with
misdemeanor assault and battery. If convicted, the maximum sentence for a first
offense in Michigan is 93 days in jail. (The second and third conviction might
mean more time in jail). More often, they are put on probation, and often they
are sentenced to batterers’ counseling. If your assailant is charged with a felony,
there is a possibility that he might go to prison.
It is not your fault if your partner is convicted of a crime and therefore
not your fault if he goes to prison or jail. He committed the crime; it’s
his responsibility.
What about couples counseling?
Assailants often say that their partners are the crazy ones and need
counseling. Survivors may think that they can save their marriage through
couples counseling. They hope that contact with a therapist will help their
partner realize he’s violent, and that he’ll stop abusing them.
When there is violence in a relationship, couples (or marital) counseling does
not work. Couples’ counseling assumes that the primary problem is “the
relationship” or “communication” and that both people are responsible for
making the changes necessary to make the relationship better.
This will not end the violence - it increases the danger. No matter what
issues or problems there may be in a relationship, battering is one individual’s
problem - the one who is using the violence.
Usually, the survivor is afraid to say what is really going on because the
assailant may punish her for doing so. The assailant usually uses the therapy as
another means of keeping control over her.
Isn’t divorce against God’s Law?
If divorce is forbidden in your religion, you might want to consider an order
for separate maintenance. Consult your religious leader for your house of
worship’s position about a marriage with violence in it. Often, the church
believes that if one person is violent and abusive, then they have broken the
marriage vow, and that God does not want you to be hit or hurt.
A lot of battered women have strong spiritual beliefs and/or are very
connected to their religious community. Some religious communities are very
supportive of a woman’s safety. Others are not. Sometimes they may counsel the
woman to stay and try to work it out, or even actively support the abuser (usually
because they don’t understand about domestic violence). Try to find someone
connected with your faith who is knowledgeable about violence against women.
Most women of faith make decisions in the context of their religious beliefs.
Women won’t decide to leave unless they believe it’s the moral thing to do.
{A wonderful resource for women of faith is the National Center for the
Prevention of Sexual and Domestic Violence, 936 North 34th Street, Suite 200,
Seattle, WA 98103, USA; Phone —206-634-1903; fax—206-634-0115;
[email protected]; Website— They publish a great
booklet called “Keeping the Faith.” They have recently added sections for
Jewish women, Muslim women, Black women, and Asian women. Muslim
women might look at Karamah, the Muslim Women’s Human Rights
Organization at )
Why does he hit me?
People batter in order to control their partners. He may say it’s because he was
hit as a child. He may blame losing his job, or being discriminated against. He
may say he’s been treated badly in other relationships, or that what you do forces
him to hit. Some women want to believe these “reasons” because they think that
by changing what they do, they will be able to stop the violence. Unfortunately,
batterers make a choice to assault because they want their partners to do as they
say. If you change your behavior, he will still hit you.
I feel like he makes up rules and punishes me for breaking them.
Am I crazy?
No. Batterers do indeed make rules in relationships and then punish their
partners for breaking them. Usual rules are:
• You cannot leave the relationship unless I am through with you.
• You may not tell anyone about my violence or coercive controls.
• I am entitled to your obedience, service, affection, loyalty, fidelity and
undivided attention. You must prove to me that you are on my side.
• I get to decide which of the other rules are critical.
These rules were first articulated by survivor Barbara Hart who has
given permission for their reprint here.
Am I codependent? If I get therapy, will he change?
If you get therapy, it will not change his behavior.
Some women have been helped by thinking of themselves as “codependent.”
They have learned through this label that they are valuable people, that they
should take care of themselves, and that they cannot change or be responsible
for other people. These things are true and very helpful.
However, other women have been told they are codependent and are
somehow enabling or participating or colluding in his “sickness.” This is not true
about battering.
What you do, or say, or think, whatever ways you may try to change yourself
- these will not stop or reduce his violence. Only he can make the decision to
change his behavior.
Counseling might help you decide what is best for you and your children, but
it will not affect his behavior.
Is he mentally ill?
No. Many people believe that anybody who would beat and torture someone
they claim to love is “crazy” and needs help.
Batterers may need help, but they are not mentally ill because they batter.
Mental illness does not cause battering. Most people who are mentally ill are not
physically violent.
What if I’ve hit him? Doesn’t that make me just as bad?
No. Battered women try all kinds of methods to stop the violence. They may do
as the assailant tells them, try to calm him down and give him what he wants.
They will try to argue and reason or cry and plead.
Most battered women try using force to get the assailant to stop hitting them.
The most common things that survivors do are—bite the assailant or scratch his
face to stop him from choking her or twisting her arm; grab a knife and tell him
to back off; or push him away to run out of the room. All of these acts are selfdefense, and not criminal.
Sometimes assailants will call the police and claim that they are the real victims,
and show the police their scratches or bites. Sometimes battered women are
arrested incorrectly. If this has happened to you, tell the police the whole sequence
of events. If you’ve been arrested incorrectly, Harbor House can help you set the
record straight. 226-6611 Marquette County or 1-800-455-6611 Alger County.
Call the police
Write down the emergency number for the police. It’s usually
911. Call the operator if you don’t know it. If you don’t have a
telephone, arrange a signal with neighbors so that they can call the
police. When the police come, ask them to arrest your partner.
If you are scared to do that in front of your assailant, think about talking to
one of the officers alone.
Get support from friends and family
Tell your family, friends and co-workers what has happened. Don’t try to
protect him. Ask for what you need.
Move out; move away
It’s not fair. You should not have to leave your home because of his behavior.
But sometimes the only way you will be safe is to leave. There are shelters
throughout the country that can help you relocate. Harbor House can put you
in touch with them.
Make a safety plan
Figure out what to do before or when the next attack happens (See below
under Section XI—Page 34.)
Get a Personal Protection Order
(See the Legal Section—Section X)
Keep Your Own Records of the Abuse
Keep a journal or log of all incidents of physical violence, threats, harassing
phone calls, unwanted contacts, missed visitation, etc. You may also want to
include promises your assailant made about getting help or changing his behavior.
Take pictures of any bruises or injuries you have. Take pictures or videotapes
of any damage done to your home or property. Make sure you write the date of
the incident and a description of what it is on any pictures. If you are taking
pictures of bruises on a specific part of your body, take two pictures. One a close
up that shows the bruise, and one further away which shows your face and that
part of the body. That way you can prove the bruise was made on you. When
taking pictures of a hole in the wall, put something next to the hole to show how
big it is.
Keep copies of any email he sent to you. Record or make copies of any
messages on answering machines or voice mail. Write down the name, address,
and phone number of any witnesses to his violence.
Get medical help
If you have been injured, go to the emergency room, or urgent care unit, or
see your doctor.
Medical records may be important evidence in criminal or civil court cases.
Medical records may also help you get a personal protection order. Give all the
information you feel safe to give. Medical records are supposed to be confidential
and are not supposed to be given out to anyone but you.
What seems like a minor injury could be a major one.
If your head gets hit and you lose consciousness, if you are more groggy an
hour after an attack, if a headache lasts more than two weeks or if you have a
seizure, be sure to see a doctor. These could be signs of brain injury or bleeding
in the brain, or a closed head injury.
If you are pregnant, and he has beaten you in your abdomen or back, tell the
doctor. Many batterers injure unborn children. If you’ve been beaten in the
belly, if you start to feel faint, or you notice bruising on your back, or large
bruises on your stomach, you could also have wounds to your internal organs
which could be life threatening.
If he’s limiting your access to medication, try to see a doctor and ask for free
samples. Most pharmaceutical companies have policies to provide low cost or
free drugs to folks who cannot afford them, so if you have a chronic condition
and are worried that you won’t be able to pay for meds, this might be an option.
If your insurance is in your husband’s name, be careful that it is not billed for
medical care (if you don’t want him to know about it).
Services of the Women’s Center
What is Women’s Center?
It’s a private non-profit organization in Marquette and Alger
Counties dedicated to ending domestic violence. We offer a lot of
different services.
Crisis Line
We have a 24-hour crisis line. It is 226-6611 Marquette County or
1-800-455-6611 in Alger County. It’s answered 365 days a year by trained
counselors. If you just want to talk, if you need counseling, if you want
information, or a referral, call us. You don’t have to give your name if you don’t
want to. To get any of the services listed here, call that number.
Our shelter is called Harbor House where battered women can come by
themselves or with their children, and find physical safety.
At Harbor House, you will get the chance to meet and talk with other
battered women, and share support. Your children (regardless of age or gender)
are welcome to come with you. There are support and educational groups. You
will be assigned a Counselor/Advocate who will help you get legal and financial
help. There is always someone to talk to.
The survivors who reviewed this book asked us to emphasize that Harbor
House is a wonderful place. They were concerned that survivors reading this
booklet would be frightened of the unknown, or scared to come to Harbor
House. They wanted you to know that you would be welcome and safe.
Assailants often threaten pets or hurt them. If you are afraid to leave because
your pet may be injured, please call us, we can help. We have a special program
for sheltering and rescuing pets.
On-Call Teams
If you live in Marquette or Alger County and your assailant has been arrested,
you should get a visit from the Women’s Center On-Call Teams. If you are seen
in an area hospital, the on-call teams may also come to see you.
One or two women will come to your house. They have been contacted by
the police, but are not police officers. They are trained counselors, and have
come to give you information and assistance. You do not have to talk to them if
you don’t want to.
They will talk with you about the assault, your relationship, how you are
feeling and will help you sort out your options. They will tell you about our
services. They will give you information about the legal system, and what to
expect. They will offer you shelter, transportation to medical help and give you
If you’ve been contacted by the On-Call Teams, someone from our program
will call you after that to see how you are doing, and if you need anything else.
Legal Advocacy and Accompaniment
If you want to make a police report, or have to go to court, decide to file for
divorce, need to get custody of your children, need a personal protection order,
have questions about the court process, our staff is available to assist you or go
with you. Our staff can also help you if you are a victim of domestic violence and
have been charged with a crime.
We can also provide you with accurate information about how the legal
system works and what you can expect. We can help you fill out the forms for
and get a personal protection order, make referrals for attorneys, and help you
with victim impact statements.
• If you decide you need a lawyer, we can help you find one who knows about
domestic assault.
• If you want information on counseling for your assailant, we will give it to
you. If you need help with your children, or with food, we can steer you in
the right direction.
• Let us know what you need.
You can get counseling and advocacy and information at Harbor House.
Whether you’re not ready to leave, have left, or just want someone to talk to,
you can get counseling for you and your children. It’s short or long term.
All of our counseling, whether it happens at the shelter, in support groups,
individually or through the on-call teams, is confidential. We will tell no one
you are in counseling or what happens in that counseling. There are only two
exceptions: 1) when we suspect a child has been abused, we must report that
abuse to Children’s Protective Services and/or 2) when there is imminent
danger of homicide or suicide.
Support Groups
Many battered women say that the most helpful thing they’ve done is meeting
other survivors and talking about common problems. When you come to a
support group, you don’t have to talk. You can just listen. There are women who
are in all stages of the process—women who are still with their assailants;
women who are deciding whether or not to leave; women who are in the process
of leaving; and women who are long gone.
Lots of women think that they were not “beat up badly” enough to go to a
support group. But in our support groups, there are women who were “just”
pushed and shoved and women who have been hospitalized.
Call the crisis line to find out about current groups.
Safety Planning When You’re Still Living
With Your Assailant—Or When You Are Leaving
Here are some things to consider when you suspect your
partner is about to assault you again.
• Try to figure out the “warning signs” that come before an assault
(drinking, taking drugs, pay day, a bill collector, a bad day at
work). Are there physical signs that he is going to hit you
(clenched fists, threats, heavy breathing, a flushed face, destruction of
property, etc.)?
• Try to get out or get help before the assault.
• Are there any weapons in the house? Where? Can you remove the weapons?
The ammunition? Lock them up?
• When an assault occurs, try to move to a room or area that has access to an
exit. Avoid a bathroom, kitchen, or anywhere near weapons.
• Can you figure out a signal for the neighbors to call the police? Can you
teach your child(ren) to call the police? Or can you go to a neighbor’s
and call?
• Can you and your children memorize telephone numbers to call for safety?
• Can you hide a cell phone if your assailant destroys the phone in your
house? (Sometimes you can get a special cell phone that calls the police
and/or the shelter from your local police or from Harbor House)
Think ahead and prepare for situations where you may need to leave
in a hurry.
• How will you get out of the house? Some women take out the garbage, or
walk the dog, or get the newspaper, or offer to go get him cigarettes. Set up
a routine where it’s normal for you to leave for a short period of time.
• Where will you go when you get out of the house? Where is the nearest
• Try to collect and hide money.
• Put important documents in one place where they can be grabbed easily.
• If possible, leave copies of documents, spare clothes, spare keys to the car
and the house, and money with a neighbor or trusted friend.
• Think about taking money from any bank accounts. This is not stealing.
You can always give it back. Our experience is that if you don’t take it, your
assailant will take it all.
• Reach out for help. Enlist your friends, family, co-workers, neighbors and
professionals in your safety planning.
Violence often gets worse when you try to
leave or show signs of independence, like taking a class,
or filing for divorce. Your assailant may become
desperate that he is actually losing control of you.
Or he will decide that you have left for good, and will take
revenge out of malice and spite. Take special care.
If you do not have your children with you, you will NOT be able to file for
temporary custody of your children. The parent who has physical possession of
the children will almost always get temporary custody.
Assailants often kidnap children or threaten to harm them in order to get their
partners to return. If the assailant has physical possession, he can get temporary
custody. If he gets temporary custody, you cannot legally take the children from
him. You will have to go to court and contest the temporary custody.
Even if you know your assailant has been abusive to the children, if there is
not presently an open child protective services case against him, the court will
probably NOT give you temporary custody if you do not file first.
Safety plan with your children! Teach them to call 911; practice what they
should do during an assault; decide on a code word that means they should get help.
Tell your children’s school and day care what is happening, and who has
permission to pick them up (and who doesn’t).
What to take with you:
• Your life and your safety are most important.
• Trying to bring your children is important.
• Everything else is secondary.
If you can do it, here is a list of things you should take with you.
(If you’re worried about taking something of his - remember, you can always give it back.)
1. Identification. Driver’s license, birth certificate for you and the kids, voter
registration card, credit cards, work identification, unemployment card, green
card, passport, baptismal certificate, marriage license, adoption records.
2. Social security numbers for you, your partner, and your children. Bring your
own and your children’s cards if available.
3. Medical records. Health insurance information.
4. Keys to the car and to the apartment or house.
5. Any welfare records.
6. Financial information such as bankbooks, checkbooks, savings records,
stocks, insurance, pensions, etc.
7. Prescription drugs. Copies of prescriptions for you and the children.
8. Spare eyeglasses or contact lenses for you and the children.
9. Money.
10.Photos, diaries, address books.
11.Clothes and toys are the last priority. They are replaced most easily.
12.Automobile. If the car is in your name, take it. If it’s in both your names, take
it. If it’s in his name, and he has another car, and you’re married, take the car.
When your assailant finds that you are gone, he will probably destroy things
that are important to you. IF you can, take things that are not replaceable,
things with significant sentimental value. Assailants usually take any money
that is in a joint account, and if they have access to your credit cards they will
use them. If you think your assailant knows your credit card numbers, you might
want to change them.
• Change the locks.
• Find a neighbor you trust who would call the police if the assailant
is around.
• Get motion sensor lights. Consider a large dog.
• Set up a routine with a friend or family member who will check in with you
on a regular basis. Agree on a code word that means you’re in danger.
• Vary your regular routine to avoid the assailant following you. Leave for
work at different times; don’t always go to the same grocery stores.
• Use a private post office box such as Mail Boxes, Etc. They have post office
boxes that have a street address. File a change of address card with the U.S.
Postal Service. Use it for all mail, packages, and magazines.
• Get an unpublished and unlisted telephone number.
• Order line blocking for your telephone number.
• If you have a personal protection order, keep a copy with you at all times.
• If you live where there’s security, or a manager, give them a picture of your
assailant and a copy of the PPO. Give a picture, a copy of the PPO, and any
custody documents to your child’s school as well.
• Try to live in an apartment complex with an outside door to each building
that is locked.
• Ask your neighbors not to buzz someone in.
• If you can, keep your car in a garage to avoid the assailant messing with it.
• Document all contacts by the assailant. Save letters and cards, tape voice
mail messages, and phone calls. Make copies of emails. Keep a journal of all
strange occurrences.
• If your assailant must get something from your home or you need to get
something from his, call Harbor House. We can request that the police do
a “civil standby” so that you can be safe.
• Have your name removed from reverse directories. The entries in these
directories are in numerical order by phone number or by address. These
books allow anyone who has just one piece of information, such as a phone
number, to find where you live.
• Be careful who you tell where you are. Unfortunately, assailants usually find
their victims through family members. Your sister may tell his sister who
tells him.
• If you can, install your phone line in another residence and use
call forwarding.
• After you leave, remember to change the password on any voice mail that
you use, and change the retrieval code for a telephone answering machine.
Change your email password.
• Remember that anyone with a radio scanner could listen in on a cell phone
conversation or on a cordless telephone if they are within two miles
distance. Digital phones may offer greater privacy but they are more
expensive and not foolproof. Be careful not to reveal any private
information on a cell phone or on a cordless phone.
If you need to get something from your assailant’s home (or your former home)
or if your assailant must get something from your home, call the police to request
a “Civil Standby”.
(Harbor House can help you get a civil standby). This is a request for the police
to come and stand by to ensure that there will be no violence or harassment
during property transfer. Usually the police can only stay for 15–20 minutes, so
if you need more time, you might have to do it more than once. Remember, that
police are not required to do civil standbys.
• Inform your boss, co-workers, and any security of the situation.
Provide them with a picture of the assailant, and a copy of the personal
protection order.
• Ask that your calls be screened or sent directly to voice mail.
• Ask that your office be locked or make sure that the front desk does not let
him in.
• Ask that your current home address or phone number not be given out.
• Carpool to work with someone, or ask security to walk you to and from your
car each day.
• Ask if you can vary your work schedule.
• Suggest to your boss that someone from Harbor House come and consult
with them and/or do a talk for employees about domestic violence. This
may help them take your situation more seriously.
• If visitation is ordered by the court, try to have visitation arrangements
made through a third party with whom you feel comfortable.
• Work on having drop off and pick up happen in a public place (police
station, near mall security, post office lobby) or have it happen at a third
party’s home.
• Try to avoid arriving at or departing from the drop off/pick up site at the
same time as the assailant.
• If the exchange of children must happen at your home, try to have the
custody order specify that the assailant must wait in his car across the street,
and that he cannot come to the door.
• Arrange for a supportive, calm and mature friend to be present during the
• Have the kids all ready to go before he arrives.
• Keep the door locked in case he shows up early.
• Document all problems with visitation and report them to the Friend
of the Court.
The concept of safety planning was originally developed by Barbara Hart.
Thanks to Erin House for major contributions to the section on safety
Many assailants use Caller ID as a way to monitor their partners’
conversations. By reviewing the incoming calls on the Caller ID, assailants can
find out who has called while they were gone. Even assailants who no longer live
with their (ex-) partner may insist on reviewing or sneaking a peek at the Caller
ID when they come over. Monitoring who you talk to and interrogating you
about what you say is a tactic your assailant is using to control you and to isolate
you from other people.
If you have Caller ID and you are concerned that your partner may give you
a hard time about who has been calling you, there are a few things that you can
do. You can disconnect your Caller ID from the phone but not from the power
source so that the machine cannot record incoming calls. You can ask people to
“block” their number when they call you by dialing *67 before they dial your
number. When *67 is dialed, only the word “private” will appear on the screen.
Sometimes only the word “unavailable” will appear on your Caller ID; this
indicates that the machine is unable to determine the number and/or name of
the person who is calling. Unavailable numbers are often telemarketers or
people calling from other areas without Caller ID service. If someone calls you
from a cell phone the name will appear as “unavailable” but the number will
be displayed.
If you want to call your assailant but do not want him to know where you are,
always dial *67 before calling his number. More and more people have Caller ID
and if you are concerned about not revealing your number, it is important to get
in the habit of always dialing *67 before you call any number. If you call from a
pay phone the name of the business where the pay phone is located, as well as
the number of the pay phone, will appear on Caller ID. Your assailant will be
able to determine what area you are in, if not your exact location. If you call your
partner from another county or state, the name is more likely to come up as
unavailable. Usually the phone number where you are calling from (with the
area code) will be displayed on Caller ID. Many cell phones have Caller ID on
them, so if you contact your assailant on his cell phone your number
may appear.
If your assailant is stalking you by calling you repeatedly, you can use your
Caller ID as evidence. (You can also use messages recorded on an answering
machine or voice mail.) You can call the police and have an officer come look
at the Caller ID at your home. Or you can take your Caller ID machine in to the
police station to have them verify the numbers on the machine and to make a
police report about the harassing, repeating calls. If your partner always “blocks”
his number when he calls you, you can contact the police department and the
telephone company to get a trace put on your phone. If you agree to follow
through with criminal charges if the trace identifies repetitive and harassing
calls, the phone company should not charge you for this service. You can also
contact the phone company and ask that they set your phone so that it will not
receive “blocked” calls. This means that anyone that dials *67 will not get
through to your phone but will instead hear a recording that says, “This number
does not accept blocked calls.” Consequently, people calling you would have to
reveal their number in order for the call to ring into your home.
Dialing *69
If you or your assailant dial *69 your phone will call back the last incoming
call into your home. If your assailant is trying to find out who just called you, he
can dial *69 and call the person back without knowing the phone number. In
some areas, the phone company will tell you who called and/or what phone
number just called your house before directly connecting you to the other
number. If the person calling blocked Caller ID by dialing *67, when you dial
*69 the call will ring through but it should not reveal the name or number of
the caller. However, if an answering machine identifies the name or number of
the person or business it is possible to determine where the call came from even
if the caller “blocked” Caller ID initially. If a number appears as “Unavailable,”
usually dialing *69 will not give you any information but will tell you, “This
service is not available for this number.”
This section was written by Erin House
When you receive a fax, it usually has the telephone number of the fax machine used
to send the fax. It also has the day and time. So if you send your assailant a fax, it will
let him know the general area where you sent the fax from, and when and where.
Change your password often, and don’t tell anyone what it is. Set up a
program that you need a password even to get ON your computer, and change it
often. Don’t use anything the assailant would guess.
When you use a computer on the Internet, it records a lot of information
about what you have been doing. This is meant to make it easy for you to go
back to places you have been on the Web, or to recall what someone said in a
Chat room. Unfortunately, others can look at this information too, if they have
physical access to your machine. So you need to know how to clean up after your
software, and keep information that could put you at risk in your own hands
alone. If you don’t feel comfortable with this task, consider going to an Internet
cafe, or library, to access the Net instead.
Web Browsers
When you use a browser, like Internet Explorer or Netscape, it records the
URLs of the sites you visit, and information about those sites, in several places.
For some things, like “cookies”, it’s best to prevent the browser from storing
them. For other things, like the browser “cache” or “history”, this cannot be
done, so you must do some cleanup whenever you finish a Net session.
To prevent Netscape from accepting cookies, go to Options | Network
Preferences, pick the Protocols tab, and check the box for “(Alert before)
Accepting A Cookie”. Then you will be asked whenever a site you visit tries to
set a cookie, and can refuse it. Do this before you start browsing.
For Netscape 4, go to Edit | Preferences. To clear the cache, select Advanced,
then Cache, then press the “Clear Disk Cache” button. To clear the History,
press the “Clear History” button.
Earlier versions of Netscape, 2.x and 3.x, are a bit more complicated to clear.
To clear the Disk Cache, after you are done browsing, go to Options | Network
Preferences, the Cache tab, and push the “Clear Disk Cache Now” button. Clear
the indication of which links have been visited with Options | General
Preferences, the Appearance tab, where you press the “Expire Now” button in
the lower right.
That still leaves the “History” window. Unfortunately, there is no button for
it. You will need to close Netscape, then go to the directory where Netscape is
really installed, and delete the file “NETSCAPE.HST” that you find there. If
you don’t know where Netscape is installed, do a search for the
NETSCAPE.HST file in Windows Explorer (not Internet Explorer).
Some versions of Netscape may also have a list of recently accessed URLs in
their preferences file. After you exit Netscape, look for that file (one that has a
real recent date/time in the Netscape directory), and see if such a list is in it
(using Notepad). Delete whatever you need to.
Internet Explorer
You can clear Internet Explorer from its Internet Options panel, the General
tab, which is under View in some versions and under Tools in others. Press the
button “Delete Files”; in the History section, press the “Clear History” button.
It’s also a good idea to change the amount of disk space used to store temporary
files; move its slider all the way to the left. Finally, change the days-to-keep-page
setting to zero.
Under Internet Options, Advanced, turn off “Use Autocomplete”, as that can
also clue someone in about visited locations.
Chat and Instant-Message Programs
If you use ICQ, AOL Communicator, Excite PAL, or the like, make sure you
clean out the history information. You may also want to use aliases for some of
the names of the people you connect with. Remember that these programs store
every word you send or receive, just like email.
Chat programs like MIRC can also have logs that you need to delete. Even
worse, many chat rooms have archives that can be accessed later by anyone;
AOL is known for this. And people may be lurking who you’d rather not talk to.
Be very careful what you say in such places, and use an alias that only your good
friends know.
There are many different e-mail programs, and they all have different ways of
storing messages. You may need to check the “Outbox”, the “Sent” folder, and
any other folders you did not create yourself to see what is kept there.
If you use Netscape Mail, empty the Trash folder to keep your deleted
messages from coming back to haunt you. To do so, go to the File menu and
choose Empty Trash Folder.
If you use Eudora, make sure that you “compact” the mailboxes after you
delete messages. Otherwise the messages are really still in there, and can still be
retrieved. The mailbox might show 0/0/119K in such a case; make sure it says
0/0/0K when you are done.
Word Processing Files
If you write a letter in a word processor, like Word or Works, make sure you
know exactly where the file is being saved; if you need to delete it, you must
know the “path” to the file. If you have a good hiding place for floppy disks, you
may want to keep all your files on them, so that you never have anything on the
hard disk that could put you at risk.
Some word processors save a temporary copy of the file you are working on,
so that they can recover it for you if you forget to “save” before turning off your
computer. If you think this may have happened, you can check by shutting down
the word-processor, then starting up again without choosing a document first. If
it has a “recovered” document on disk, it will usually load it automatically then.
If you close the document and tell the word processor not to save it, that should
remove the “recovered” version. Otherwise, it may “pop up” in front of the next
person to use the word processor.
Another “helpful” feature that can leave full, readable copies of your files
around is the “backup” feature, which saves the previous version of your file
someplace with the same name and extension .back or (for Word) .wbk. In
Word, check the Tools | Options | File Locations tab to see where such copies
of your files may be kept. You can also use Tools | Options | Save tab to stop
the backup process entirely; just uncheck the “Always Create Backup Copy” and
“Automatic Save” boxes.
Many word processors let you save your file with a password, so that nobody
who doesn’t have the password can read them. The “encryption” used is not real
strong but may be good enough to stop someone who isn’t real computer-savvy.
Unfortunately, people do lose passwords, and so there are many tools on the net
to help you “recover” the lost password. Somebody who wanted to read your file
could use one of those programs, and defeat the password. So this is not a very
good way to protect your documents.
Watch out for the File menu, too. Many Windows word processors, as well as
spreadsheets and other applications, keep a list of recently used documents on
their own File menu. In Word, you can change this with Tools | Options, the
General tab, by setting the number for the Recently Used File List to zero (4 is
the default). If the list disappearing would be a problem, you can also just open
and close files until they push the hazardous names off the end of the list.
Deleting Files
When you delete a file on Windows 95 or 98 or the Mac you may think it is
gone. But it’s not. It’s merely in the Trash (or Recycle Bin), and can be hauled
out any time up until you “empty the trash”. Even then, someone with computer
knowledge can use tools that resurrect the deleted file much of the time. It’s
really best to use floppy disks whenever you can, so that you can physically put
the disk with the files someplace safe.
In Windows 95 and 98, you will also see references to the documents you
create under the Start button, Documents. You can clear the whole list by rightclicking on a blank part of the Taskbar, and choosing “Properties.” Pick the
“Start Menu Programs” tab, and click on the “Clear” button under the
“Documents menu.” Note that this does not remove the document itself, just
the mention of it in the Documents list.
If you want to minimize suspicion by leaving the list, but just removing one
or more particular documents, you can do that using Windows Explorer. Go to
your Windows directory, and open the Recent folder in it. You will see a shortcut
for each entry on the Documents list. Right-click on each one you want to get
rid of and select Delete from the pop-up menu. Then go empty the Recycle Bin
to finish the job.
Thanks to the Spiderwoman list for their help on this section.
If you’re still living with the assailant, he can read your email if he knows the
password on the master account. The master account is the first screen name
created when the account was opened. He can change the password of any other
screen names on that account if he has access to the master account. If he knows
the credit card number you set up the account with, he could have someone call,
pretending to be you and change the password. (If you don’t store your password,
but enter it every time you sign on, you would know that the password had
If you’ve left him, buy your account with a credit card that lists the mailbox
address (of a place such as Mailboxes, Inc.) and give AOL the mailbox address
as well. AOL is not supposed to release information about subscribers, but
mistakes happen. You can create different screen names and unless the assailant
has physical access to your computer (or knows someone who does), he won’t
know what those screen names are. Therefore, he can’t set up his “Buddy List”
to track you whenever you are online.
If you know his screen name, you can block him from tracking you through
Buddy List, and you can also use keyword “mail controls” to block email from
Save any email he sends you. If you receive “instant mail” from him, print it
out and save it.
All of these things are evidence that he is stalking or harassing you.
If you use a provider other than AOL, consult directly with them about the
best way to secure your account.
Children are in danger in homes with a batterer for many
reasons. A lot of assailants hurt the children physically, and some
sexually abuse the kids. Your assailant may kidnap your children
to try to get you back, or to get revenge on you. Batterers seek
custody of children for the same reasons.
Children can be hurt “indirectly”. Your batterer may be trying
to shoot you and “accidentally” shoot a child. Or he may push you down the
stairs while you are holding the baby, and the baby may be hurt. Children may
get hurt trying to protect you or restrain the batterer.
Children in homes where there is violence may start behaving in negative
ways, or develop psychological problems. Some children become the perfect
kids—they take care of everything, and became overachievers. Others act out—
get involved in gangs, or start having a lot of sex, skip school, drink or use other
drugs. Kids may be either very withdrawn or very aggressive. Boys start thinking
that it’s okay to use violence in intimate relationships and are in danger of doing
it when they are adults.
Some survivors think their children don’t know about the violence, and
therefore aren’t going to be hurt by it. Children from violent homes tell us that
they almost always know about the violence, even when they weren’t present
when it occurred.
Many survivors wonder how their children are doing and what they should
say to them about the violence.
We recommend that you talk to your children about the violence and what is
going on AND we recommend that you find some other helpful adult to talk to
your kids.
Here are some suggestions:
• violence is always wrong, and what dad (or step-dad or boyfriend) is doing
is not right;
• the violence is NOT their fault—nothing they did or didn’t do caused
the violence;
• if you’re separated from the assailant, that’s not the kids’ fault;
• the assailant does it because he wants to get his way and he has a problem;
• safety plan with your child—what to do during the attack; how to keep
safe during an assault; how to call 911; where to run for help; what to do
during visitation if something goes wrong
Don’t blame yourself because of what the assailants violence has done to
your kids.
Take inventory of the ways that you’ve protected your children, and build
upon that.
Some children from violent homes do extremely well later in life, particularly
if there is early intervention to help them sort out what’s happened to them.
International Parental Abduction:
Sometimes a batterer will threaten to take the minor children out of the
country, or will actually attempt to do so. U.S. citizens must enter and depart the
US with a valid US passport, except when traveling to countries within the
Western Hemisphere (e.g., Canada, Mexico, and other Central and South
American countries). If your children are citizens of the United States, and you
are concerned that your partner may take them out of the country, you can
participate in the “Children’s Passport Issuance Alert Program” run by the State
Department. This program enables the State Department to notify a parent or
legal guardian that a passport has been requested for the child(ren). You must
submit a written request to the State Department for entry of a child’s name into
the program.
To participate in the Children’s Passport Issuance Alert Program, you can: (1)
call 1-202-736-7000 and request copies of the Request form; or (2) download
the Request form from the State Department website at Simply fill out the request form and
fax it back to the number indicated on the form.
Submitting this request does not necessarily mean that a passport request for
your child will be denied. In order for the State Department to deny a passport
for your child, you must submit a complete copy of a temporary or permanent
court order that states either: (1) that you have sole legal custody; or (2) that
you have joint legal custody; or (3) that there are restrictions on the child’s
If you believe your partner has sexually or physically abused
one or more of your children, what do you do?
Believe your child. Children almost never lie about abuse.
Tell your child you’re glad she or he told you, and that you will
try to help them be safe in the future.
Be aware that some institutions may assume that your child is
lying or they may assume you are lying to get revenge on your husband, to get
child custody, or to win a court battle. Keep a log and write down all incidents
and all statements about the abuse.
Get your child some counseling. Call our crisis line at (906) 226-6611 or 1800-455-6611 from Alger County (voice) for a referral.
Get some support for yourself.
Make a Children’s Protective Services (C.P.S.) report. In Marquette
County, their number is (906) 228-9691. This is a 24-hour number. You can also
call the police. Give C.P.S. and the police as many concrete details as you can.
Understand that they cannot take action based on what your child has told you.
They will have to hear it directly from the child.
If your child has been sexually assaulted or abused, he or she should have a
medical exam. However, do not take him or her to your family doctor for an
exam. Most doctors are not trained to do such exams, and it would be traumatic
for the child. Ask Children’s Protective Services to make a referral to a
physician trained in forensic examination of child sexual abuse.
All survivors want the violence to stop, but not all want the
relationship to end. Ideally, they’d like the relationship without
the violence. The hard truth is that almost no assailants stop
being violent towards intimate partners. If they do reduce or
eliminate their violence, they do so over a long period of time,
and with intensive counseling, education and sanctions for
continuing the violence (like probation, the threat of jail, or the threat of losing
a job).
Many survivors want their batterer to get help, and some want to save him.
Nothing you do makes him abuse you; nothing you do can make him stop.
He chooses to be violent. He must make the choice to stop and he must stick
with that choice no matter what happens.
To stop being violent, batterers must really want to change and must make a
long-term commitment. They must take full responsibility for their violence
without making excuses or blaming others. The very few batterers who do
change were forced to because of serious consequences (jail works the best!).
Interventions that do work take one year or longer. It will not happen overnight.
We worry about assailants going to counseling, because one of the reasons
some battered women stay in abusive relationships is that they believe their
partners will change. If the assailant enters treatment, counseling or a batterers’
intervention program, the survivor may stay longer in the relationship in the
hope that the violence will end.
A lot of batterers go to counseling one, two or three times. They use the
counseling to convince their partner to return to them. Then they drop out
of counseling.
They have lots of excuses for dropping out such as: the fee is too high; I’m not
like those other men; they want to brainwash me; they blame men for
everything; the hours are not reasonable, etc., etc. Some assailants lie and say
that they are going to counseling and they are not.
What does NOT work:
Traditional counseling that seeks a solution to violence by looking at and
resolving the batterer’s personal problems (such as violence in the home where
he grew up).
What does NOT work:
Traditional counseling that sees the survivor as having any role in
the violence.
What does NOT work:
Marital or couples counseling. In addition to almost never working, this
can be dangerous for survivors. Batterers often push for this type of counseling,
because they insist that the violence is caused by their partner, or is a
mutual problem.
What does NOT work:
Programs that concentrate solely on reducing stress or managing anger.
What does NOT work:
Quick fix programs that are short-term and promise immediate results.
Many people believe that alcohol or other drug use causes
men to assault their partners. This is not true. Battering and
alcoholism or other drug addictions are two separate problems.
More than half of the men that batter who are in counseling
at the batterers’ programs in Marquette County also have alcohol
and other drug problems. If your assailant has an alcohol or other
drug problem (or if he drinks heavily or uses other drugs, especially crack) you
are in greater danger of being more seriously hurt when he is using.
Getting him into treatment for his alcohol or other drug problem will not stop
his violence.
What if you are using?
We recommend that you not use alcohol or other drugs during the time that
you are trying to get free of an abusive relationship. It may stop you from
carrying out your plans and/or from getting the best response from people you
need to get help from.
But, what if you are?
A lot of batterers encourage their partners to drink or use drugs, and prevent
them from stopping, or getting help to stop. This keeps you easier to control.
Some survivors have been prescribed minor tranquilizers by doctors. Few
know that minor tranquilizers are extremely addictive. Used with alcohol they
can be fatal. Some women who are being battered use alcohol or other drugs to
numb the pain—the physical and emotional pain that they experience in
violent relationships.
A lot of women have problems with alcohol or other drugs. Our culture looks
down on women who are addicted. But - it’s nothing to be ashamed of - it’s not
your fault. It’s a common experience. Addiction/alcoholism is a physical
response to the alcohol or other drug. You’re not a bad person, or weak, or
Think about getting some help. You can talk to a Women’s Center counselor
about your use. Or you can go directly to an agency which specializes in helping
people with alcohol or other drug problems (see the end of this booklet).
You could go to an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting or another self-help
group. (Note: Some self-help groups may tell you that you are as sick as your
batterer and enmeshed and responsible for his violence. This is not true. Stick
to their message about alcohol, and forget their ideas about battering.)
Physical and sexual violence happens in lesbian and gay
relationships. Many of the same things happen that occur in
heterosexual battering relationships—isolation, psychological
abuse, sexual violence, physical assaults. If you are a lesbian or a
gay man who is being battered by your partner, you will probably
have additional special issues when your partner batters you.
The bottom line is—getting help for the violence usually means coming out.
Coming out is dangerous. It could mean death, physical violence, loss of family,
being thrown out of housing, losing your children to the state or to the batterer,
or being fired from your job. Your partner may threaten you with outing if you
decide to leave. S/he may use the special concerns and issues of the lesbian and
gay community to keep you under control. S/he may tell you that by letting
others know about the abuse you’re reinforcing the homophobia of the straight
culture, and are selling out lesbians and gay men. If this is your first sexual
relationship with someone of the same gender, s/he may lie and tell you that all
same gender sex involves humiliation, force, or coercion. Lesbians and gay men
cannot routinely turn on the television and find portrayals of positive lesbian
and gay relationships. This leaves them more vulnerable to partners telling them
that “all gay men” do this, or they are not “real lesbians”.
You may be afraid to tell your family because this may reinforce their views
that you’re in a “sick” lifestyle. You may not want your partner to lose her/his job
or family by reporting her or him to the police, and therefore revealing her or
his orientation. You may not want to expose the lesbian or gay male community
to more criticism. You may be new to relationships, and may believe this is just
the way they are.
Helping professionals may be homophobic and may not view your
relationship as valid or as legitimate as heterosexual intimate relationships. You
may encounter a therapist or religious leader or other professional who actually
believes that lesbian and gay relationships are really sick or sinful.
If you’re a lesbian, you may have trouble identifying that you are being
battered because you believed that only men use violence in intimate
partnerships. Your partner may tell you that she is not “butch” and you have to
be “butch” to batter.
If you’re a gay man, you may think that real men don’t get beat up, or that you
should be able to protect yourself because you’re a man. If you practice anal sex,
you may be at higher risk for contracting HIV. There also may be more danger
if your partner refuses to practice safe sex, rapes you, or causes cuts or abrasions.
If you are HIV positive, your partner may threaten to tell people. You may have
heard the myth that shelters don’t help or accept men, and may not see a
domestic violence agency as a potential source for help.
You may be particularly concerned about confidentiality because of how small
the lesbian and gay male community is. All information given to any employee
or volunteer of the Women’s Center is confidential. However, you may want to
use a different name. You might also want to get counseling or support in a
different county.
You may be concerned about encountering homophobia from staff, volunteers
or straight survivors. All staff and volunteers of the Women’s Center have
training on homophobia, and are given information about the special issues
lesbians and gay men face in battering relationships. If you feel that the
counselor you’re talking to is not as sensitive as you would like, ask to talk to a
supervisor. When you request non-residential counseling, you can request a
lesbian counselor. We will do our best to see that you get one.
Our experience has been that lesbian and gay male survivors are usually
treated sympathetically by heterosexual survivors in our programs. The
commonalties of being battered seem to outweigh the differences of your partner
being male or female.
You CAN get a personal protection order and you CAN get an anti-stalking
civil order. Your partner can be prosecuted for criminal assault.
You may have heard that domestic violence programs don’t accept anyone but
heterosexuals. the Women’s Center assures you that you will be welcome at our
program. We continue to work on increasing our sensitivity and accessibility to
lesbians and gay men who are being battered.
Assailants may perceive people with physical disabilities as
easier to control, and some assailants may choose people with
disabilities to batter. Assailants often use the disability as another
method of control. You may be being battered by your personal
care attendant. He might withhold food, or might not help you
use the bathroom. He might give you too much medicine or
might refuse to give you your meds.
Because of environmental barriers (buildings, bathrooms, buses that are not
accessible), people with physical disabilities are already isolated. The batterer
may be increasing that isolation through such tactics as removing the wheelchair
ramp, removing the T.D.D. or not helping you get places. If you are unable to
drive a car, use a bus, or take a cab, it will be more difficult for you to escape.
There is a myth that caretakers batter people with disabilities because they are
frustrated with taking care of them. This is not true. Assailants batter in order
to control their partners.
Helping professionals may think that people with disabilities are sexless, and
may have trouble perceiving your relationship with your assailant as legitimate.
You may want to get additional assistance if you have a physical disability. We
recommend you contact SAIL at 228-5744. The Women’s Center is trying to be
as accessible as possible to those with physical disabilities. We can and will
shelter you and your personal care attendant (if the p.c.a. is not the assailant).
Shelter and counseling services are accessible by wheelchair.
Survivors who are older adults may face some additional
obstacles or challenges. Most people assume that “elder abuse”
only means adult children hurting or exploiting their parents, so
if you’re being battered by an older partner it may be ignored.
Some may think that “old” men are not physically strong enough
to batter or rape, so you couldn’t be being abused.
You may have special concerns about losing your home or income from social
security, or health insurance if you were to leave your assailant. Shelters, which
tend to be noisy and chaotic, may appear particularly unwelcoming. You might
be concerned about losing your independence, or being institutionalized.
If you are in poor health, or experiencing problems with a disability, your
assailant may capitalize on them. He may withhold medication necessary for
you, or give you too much. If you rely on your assailant for personal care, he
might withhold food, or water (see section on disability). If you’re not working
outside the home, he might find it easier to isolate you from supportive friends.
You may be particularly worried about your assailant’s poor health, or destructive
behavior, and wonder what would happen to him if you were to leave.
You may not think of yourself as “battered”, but if you’re being hurt and
controlled you probably are. the Women’s Center can help you find resources to
become safe and to stay independent. We work closely with area organizations
concerned with the economic and social well-being of older citizens. Please call
us so we can work out a plan with you.
Women of color are much less likely to receive help from
systems than white women because of racism. Women of color
are less likely to be believed. Society still thinks that violence is
“normal” in communities of color, and that battered women
therefore do not need help.
Professionals may use the excuse “well, battering is acceptable
in that culture” to not help women of color.
Your assailant may use your common experiences with racism, and
understandable fear of racism, to keep you under control. He may tell you that
if you “have him arrested,” he may be beaten or killed by the police. If you know
that this is a real possibility, it makes it harder for you to make the decision to
call the police.
He may suggest that you are “selling out” to the white man by seeking help
from outside your own community. He may ridicule you by saying that you’re
going to a bunch of white women for help.
He may tell you that because of racism, you should do what he tells you so
that he can feel like a real man.
If you don’t speak English, or if English is not your first language, or you are
from another country, you may face more barriers to help.
You may be concerned about encountering racism from staff, volunteers, or
white battered women. All staff and volunteers of the Women’s Center have
training on racism, and are given information about the special issues that
women of color face in battering relationships. If you feel that the counselor you
are talking to is not as sensitive as you would like, ask to talk to a supervisor.
There are counselors who are women of color at our shelter. When you
request non-residential counseling, you can request a counselor who is a woman
of color. We will do our best to see that you get one.
As in any place in our society, women of color sometimes get treated in a
racist way by white women using our program. Our experience has been that in
general women of color and white women have supported each other when they
have been using our services, and that the commonalties of being battered seem
to outweigh the differences of race.
We’re committed to helping you—please call us!
For a long time, people didn’t realize that domestic violence
happened among young people in high school or in college who
were dating. There was an incorrect assumption that domestic
violence only occurred among people who are married.
One problem is the term “dating”. High school students today
may not describe their relationships with other kids as dating.
You all may hang out in a group together, or may never go out on a “date”. But
whenever there are romantic, or sexual relationships, there’s the possibility that
there could be violence or abuse.
Young people face additional obstacles to getting help when they’re being
abused. If this is the first time you’ve had a serious boyfriend or girlfriend, the
friend may tell you “This is the way it is—all relationships are like this.” If they
are intensively jealous and possessive, they may say—“this is what real love
looks like”. You may be confused because he says he can’t live without you, and
wants to be with you every single moment. He may convince you that it’s your
fault because you dress in a certain way, or like to dance or flirt. He may
threaten to ruin your reputation if you break up with him, and you may be afraid
you won’t get another boyfriend. You may not want to tell your parents or other
adults about the abuse because they don’t approve of the relationship. You may
have broken rules in seeing your friend, and you don’t want to get yourself or
him in serious trouble, or be saddled with more rules and restrictions.
Adults may not take your relationship seriously. They may tell you you’re too
young to know anything about love, or that you are going through a phase. Your
boyfriend may have cut off relationships with your friends, and it may be hard to
approach them for help. The law doesn’t protect survivors of dating violence in
the ways it protects those married, living together or who have a child in
common. For example, police cannot arrest without a warrant in misdemeanor
assault cases if the only relationship that exists is a dating relationship.
If you’re being hurt and abused in a dating relationship, please call us at 2266611 or 1-800-455-6611. Survivors of dating violence can get a personal
protection order, and assailants can be prosecuted. You can get an anti-stalking
personal protection order, and your assailant could be criminally charged with
stalking. We’ll listen and believe in you. There IS help available, and healthy,
non-violent relationships can happen!
*We recognize that people other than high school and college students are
in dating relationships. This section focuses on the special issues of young
A large percentage of survivors of physical violence are also
sexually abused. Sexual abuse can happen in a number of
different ways in domestic violence relationships. He might
target your genitals or breasts in an assault. Many assailants
demand sex after a beating to “make up”. He might force you to
do things you don’t like sexually, or that physically hurt. He
might force you to have sex with others, or to act out what happens in
pornography. He might take pictures or videotapes of you, and threaten to use
them against you in the future. He might deliberately give you a sexually
transmitted disease, force you to end a pregnancy, or prevent you from
terminating a pregnancy.
It’s sometimes hard for survivors to recognize sexual abuse. Your assailant
might tell you that he’s your husband and you’re supposed to give him what he
wants sexually. If you have sex to keep the peace, or to avoid a beating, you may
not see that as coerced sex. You may feel too ashamed, soiled, or degraded to talk
to someone else about it.
It’s always wrong for someone to force another person to have sex, and it’s
never the fault of the victim.
If you’ve been raped or sexually abused, you may have some special worries. If
this has just happened, please call us at 226-6611 or 1-800-455-6611 and let
us help you.
You may not want to bathe or change clothes (if you do, at least save what
you were wearing).
Think about getting medical attention. Medical professionals will want to do
a standard sexual assault kit. This may involve: getting a saliva sample; cleaning
under your fingernails; combing your pubic hair for evidence; taking your
underwear; photographing any cuts or bruises; and conducting a pelvic exam.
The police may come and take a report from you.
In two or three weeks, you may need a test for pregnancy (if you were raped
vaginally by a penis), and tests for sexually transmitted diseases. In six months,
you should be tested for HIV.
If you are a battered immigrant woman you may have special
concerns or issues with which you need help.
First, some people in the United States may think that battering
and abuse is “normal” in your culture, and therefore may not make
vigorous attempts to stop the violence or help you. In fact,
battering abuse occurs in ALL cultures and it is ALWAYS wrong.
Second, if you call Harbor House at 226-6611 in Marquette County or 1-800455-6611 in Alger County, please state the name of the language you speak in
English. We will then make every possible effort to get a translator on the line
as soon as possible.
If your immigration status depends on your husband who is abusive, you will
need special assistance. Don’t believe anything your abuser says about the INS
or laws in the United States. Assailants often lie, and particularly in this arena
(because it’s so confusing). Assailants can and will use threats of deportation to
keep you under control.
As part of the 1994 Violence Against Women Act, Congress allowed abused
women who are married to a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident to file
their own application for lawful permanent residency. Abused women are not
supposed to be forced to obtain permission or help from the abuser. This process
is called self-petitioning. Congress also allowed immigration judges the
discretion to waive the deportation of abused women who have been married
to U.S. citizens or lawful permanent residents, a process called VAWA
As you may already know, immigration issues are tricky to navigate.
Do not call the INS.
You will need to find an immigration attorney who knows about domestic
violence. The Women’s Center will help you find one. We recommend that you
ask your attorney to consult with one of the following national organizations.
1736 Columbia Road, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20009
(202) 387-4848
FAX (202) 387-0324
E-mail: [email protected] (domestic violence)
National Immigration Project of the National Lawyers Guild
14 Beacon Street, Suite 602
Boston, MA 02108
Email: [email protected]
Then click on domestic violence. The web site has newly updated sections.
One includes an Application for Immigrant Status Under the Violence Against
Woman Act.
This word is used by the legal system to indicate that there has
not yet been a conviction. You may hear the “alleged” assailant,
or even the “alleged” victim.
The person who files a suit, or makes a complaint, or presses charges. If you
have filed for divorce, you are the complainant. In a police report, the victim of
domestic violence is often called the complainant.
This is the person who is charged with a crime, or the person against whom a
suit is filed. If your assailant is arrested, he becomes the defendant.
Defense attorney:
This is a lawyer who represents the defendant in a criminal case. If the suspect
has no money for an attorney, the court may appoint an attorney.
These are the initials for the Law Enforcement Information Network. All
police officers have access to the L.E.I.N. computer network which has a record
of active warrants for peoples’ arrest, valid Personal Protection Orders (PPOs),
and conditional bonds. If you have a Personal Protection Order or, if as part of
criminal charges against your assailant, a judge has ordered your assailant to not
contact you, not return to your residence, not drink, not threaten you, etc. all of
these conditions should come up on the L.E.I.N. computer when the police run
your assailant’s name and will allow them to arrest him for violating the orders
or for having a warrant.
A magistrate functions like a judge, but in a restricted role. In district court,
arraignments are often handled by the magistrate.
Personal Protection Order:
A civil order issued by the Court which can prohibit the batterer from doing
many things, including having contact with the survivor or the minor children,
threatening the survivor, sending objects or correspondence to the survivor,
going to the survivor’s home, school or workplace, interfering with the survivor’s
work or educational opportunities, having access to school or medical records of
the minor children which would disclose the survivor’s location or residence,
and stalking the Petitioner.
The person who files paperwork with the court requesting a Personal Protection
The person who brings an action. The person who sues or files the complaint.
If you file for divorce, you are the plaintiff.
The person who has been arrested will at some point “enter a plea.” They tell
the court they are guilty, or not guilty. They can also stand mute, or plead “nolo
contendere.” If they plead nolo contendere, which means, “I will not contend”,
it is similar to a guilty plea. However, the nolo contendere plea cannot be used
against them.
This is an attorney employed by the County whose job it is to prove that the
suspect or defendant committed the crime with which he was charged. If there
are criminal charges against your assailant, it is the prosecutor who will prepare
the case and present the evidence against the assailant. You will not need to hire
an attorney. The prosecutor will prosecute the criminal case against your assailant.
Court Appointed Defense Attorney:
Defense Attorney employed by the county to defend people in criminal cases
who do not have money to hire an attorney.
Reasonable cause/probable cause:
This means any facts that would induce a fair-minded person of average
intelligence to believe that the suspect has committed a crime.
The person against whom a Personal Protection Order is issued.
This is used to refer to the person who the police suspect committed a crime.
In assault and battery cases, it would be your assailant.
This is an official order of the court that tells people that they must come to
court. You may get a subpoena as a witness in a civil or criminal trial.
The neighborhood, place or county in which an injury is declared to have
been done. It also can refer to the geographical division in which an action or
prosecution is brought for trial.
Criminal cases are those in which the state (or municipal or
federal government) initiates a case against an individual (the
defendant) in the belief that the defendant has violated the law.
Criminal cases are based on the belief that the defendant’s actions
constitute a violation of the rights of all citizens, or a danger to the community.
The community pays for the prosecution (through a prosecutor or city attorney).
The defendant is guaranteed the right to representation by an attorney
appointed by the court (sometimes the public defender) if he or she cannot
afford to hire one.
In the past, too many people thought of domestic violence as a private, family
matter (civil) and not a crime. These attitudes are slowly changing.
Civil cases are those which are initiated by one private individual or group
against another private individual or group. Each individual must provide his
or her own attorney.
Divorce, custody, visitation and property settlement are civil matters. If you
sue your assailant, that’s civil.
Your assailant may drag out divorce and property settlement to wear you down
or to make you run out of money. He may use visitation of children as a way to
track and harass you. A typical assailant tells his victim that they will never see
their children again if they pursue divorce. Too often this has occurred. Since
1993, judges have been required to consider domestic violence when granting
custody of children.
Domestic violence personal protection orders and anti-stalking personal
protection orders can be confusing because they are civil orders of the court but
may be enforced by arrest and criminal contempt penalties.
Marquette County is trying out a new court system, which
may be a little confusing. Judges are assigned to one of the three
divisions (listed at the end of this booklet), but any judge may act
in any capacity.
A. Civil/Criminal Division of the Marquette County
Circuit Court
The Civil/Criminal Division has jurisdiction over all civil lawsuits over
$25,000, all civil appeals from administrative agencies, and all felony criminal
cases (as well as high misdemeanors such as criminal sexual conduct in the
fourth degree). If your assailant is charged with a felony crime such as attempted
murder or aggravated stalking, the case will be handled in this division.
B. The Family Division of the Marquette Circuit Court
The Family Division includes what were formerly the Juvenile Court and the
Probate Court. It handles estates and wills; commitment to hospital care for
mentally ill and/or addicted persons; adoption for children; guardianship;
juvenile delinquency; and abuse and neglect (foster care).
The Family Division also handles divorce, custody and visitation.
The Family Division handles personal protection orders. There is usually one
judge assigned to personal protection orders. This may be a judge who is
specially assigned to the Family Division for that purpose.
C. Marquette County District Court
The District Court handles small claims, landlord tenant issues,
misdemeanors, and traffic violations.
Crimes are misdemeanors if the potential sentence is one year or less.
Most domestic assault cases (the ones charged as assault, assault and battery,
aggravated assault, and stalking) are handled here. Districts Courts also do
initial arraignments, set and accept bail, and do the preliminary examinations
for the Criminal/Civil Division in felony and high misdemeanor cases. District
courts also issue arrest warrants and search warrants. District Courts do NOT
handle civil suits over $25,000, divorces or custody. For lawsuits involving
financial claims less than $1,750, there is a special part of District Court called
the Small Claims Division. This is hard to use against an assailant, because he
has to agree to give up the right to a jury trial, representation by an attorney and
appeal. A District Court may have a magistrate to do some of the work, such as
arraignments, setting bail, accepting guilty pleas, and authorizing warrants. The
magistrate’s decision can be appealed to the judge.
Abuse becomes a crime under certain circumstances. Most
abusers commit a number of different crimes. Most assailants
contact their partners repeatedly and may be guilty of stalking.
Many assailants hurt children and may be guilty of crimes of child
abuse, child neglect, or criminal sexual conduct. Lots of assailants
hurt or kill pets and most destroy property. They might be
charged with arson or malicious destruction of property or cruelty to animals.
Assailants who break into your home might be charged with breaking and
entering or greater offense of home invasion, if the home is not also owned or
rented by him. If he is not the father of your children, and you have a custody
order, he might be charged with kidnapping if he takes the children away. Many
assailants force their partners to have sexual contact or sexually penetrate.
These are crimes.
Name-calling, isolation and intimidation are often not considered assaults.
But, you should talk to your advocate about your specific experiences. It takes
help to sort out what abusive behavior is criminal and what is not.
Abuse becomes a crime when there is an assault. (Assailants can also be arrested
if they violate personal protection orders or a no-contact order.) An assault is
legally defined as “any willful attempt or threat to inflict injury upon the person of
another when coupled with an apparent present ability to do so, and any
intentional display of force such as would give the victim reason to fear or to
expect immediate bodily harm.” This means that if your partner pulled out a knife,
and threatened to kill you with it, that would be a felonious assault. But if he called
you on the telephone, and said he was going to kill you, that probably wouldn’t be
considered an assault because it lacks the “apparent present ability” to carry out
the threat.
Battery is the “actual application of force.” It’s when your partner hits you. It’s
when your partner pushes you, grabs you, kicks or shoves you. Remember—what
your assailant calls “restraint” may legally be an assault.
For the crime to be considered a DOMESTIC assault, you and the assailant
would have to be married, formerly married, living together, formerly living
together, dating, formerly dating, or have a child in common. Someone convicted
of a domestic assault could spend up to 93 days in jail and/or receive a $500 fine.
Most assailants do not go to jail for the first conviction; they receive probation.
When the assault is more serious, or when the assailant uses a weapon, or when
the injury is severe the assailant may be charged with more serious crimes.
Abuse can also become a crime when there is stalking. Most assailants stalk
their partners at one time or another. Stalking is repeated, unconsented contact.
The contact does not have to be in person. An assailant who calls on the
telephone, sends letters through the mail, or who sends e-mail more than twice
without your consent is committing the crime of stalking.
1. Misdemeanor stalking - MCLA 750.411h
Stalking is defined as a willful course of conduct involving repeated or
continuing harassment of another individual. There must be two or more
unconnected and unconsented contacts.
The conduct would cause a reasonable person to feel terrorized, frightened,
intimidated, threatened, harassed or molested, and the conduct actually causes
the victim to feel that way.
If there is evidence that the defendant continued to engage in a course of
conduct involving repeated unconsented contact with the victim, AFTER being
requested by the victim to stop, this shall give rise to refutable presumption that
the continuation of the actions caused the victim to feel terrorized, frightened,
intimidated, threatened, harassed, or molested.
Stalking is a misdemeanor, punishable by imprisonment of up to one year in
jail and/or a fine of up to $1,000. In addition to incarceration and fines, an
individual found guilty of stalking may be put on probation for up to five years.
The terms of probation may include a no contact order, and/or mandatory
counseling for the assailant, at his own expense.
If the victim was less than 18 years of age at any time during the stalking, and
the perpetrator is five years or more older than the victim, misdemeanor stalking
becomes a felony punishable by imprisonment for not more than five years or a
fine of not more than $10,000 or both.
2. Aggravated Stalking - MCLA 750.411i
An individual who engages in stalking is guilty of aggravated stalking if his
actions include one or more of the following:
• making a credible threat to kill or injure the victim or a member of the
victim’s family or household;
• violating a domestic assault or anti-stalking personal protection order (and
the assailant has been properly served);
• violating a condition of bond, pre-trial release or probation;
• having a previous conviction for stalking or aggravated stalking.
Aggravated stalking is a felony, punishable by imprisonment of up to five
years, and/or a fine of up to $10,000. In addition to incarceration and fines,
probation may be ordered for any number of years, but not less than five years.
The terms of probation may include an anti-stalking order, a no contact order,
and/or mandatory counseling for the stalker, at his own expense.
If the victim was less than 18 years of age at any time during the conduct
constituting aggravated stalking, and the perpetrator is five years or more older
than the victim, the crime is punishable by imprisonment for not more than 10
years or a fine of not more that $15,000 or both.
3. Anti-Stalking Personal Protection Orders - MCLA 600.2950a,
MCLA 764.15b
An individual who violates an anti-stalking order may also be prosecuted and
convicted of aggravated stalking for the same violation. {MCLA 750.411I(6)}
4. Civil suits - MCLA 600.2954(I)
(See Section IIB—Civil Cases)
{MCLA 750.520a et seq.}
Lots of assailants do sexual things to hurt their partners. Some of these things
are crimes. Some people think that if you are married, it’s not a crime to be
forced into sex—that’s not true. It is a crime to force another person to have
sex regardless of the relationship between the two people.
There are four degrees of criminal sexual conduct. First, second, and third
degrees are felonies. Fourth degree is a misdemeanor.
First and third degrees involve forced or coerced penetration. This is vaginal
intercourse (penis into vagina), anal or oral intercourse (penis into anus or
mouth), or putting a finger or object in another person’s genital or anal opening.
Second and fourth degrees involve forced or coerced sexual contact. This
includes touching the groin, genital area, inner thigh, buttocks, or breasts, or the
clothing covering those parts against someone’s will.
The seriousness of the crime increases with the number of coercive factors,
such as: more than one rapist; a weapon; a physical injury other than the rape;
extortion; or the element of surprise. If the victim is under 13, from 13 - 15
and/or the rapist is a member of the family or in a position of authority, this also
makes the crime more serious. Criminal sexual conduct does not require a
witness other than the victim.
It’s still a crime if the assailant is married to the victim. Male on male and
female on female assault is also a crime.
Many assailants hurt, torture or kill pets. They may be charged with the crime
of animal cruelty.
Often assailants destroy your property. This is also a crime, unless the property
is owned by both of you.
The majority of assailants physically or sexually assault children or neglect
Whether you are going to court for a divorce or custody
hearing, or it’s a criminal trial where you’re a witness—going to
court is hard.
We hope these thoughts will make it easier for you. Lots of
time people put the focus on the survivor for winning in court (if
only she did this, if only she didn’t do that). In fact, you don’t
have a lot of control over what happens in court, although you can make a
difference. Some women do find testifying a positive and empowering
experience. Do the best you can and take care of yourself in what are very
difficult circumstances.
Parking is sometimes difficult, particularly if you are in Marquette.
Get a map to the courthouse, and know where the parking is, and leave
enough time to park. Don’t forget change if you’re going to be in a metered lot.
If you can, do a trial run, by driving by.
Inevitably, you will be waiting (often for hours). Sometimes you will wait and
the case will be adjourned. Bring a book, or headphones (as long as they are
quiet), or a book on tape, or sewing, or something to do while you wait.
In a civil case, you might be representing yourself. Often, you will have an
attorney. In a criminal case, you are a witness. In a criminal case, the assailant
has a defense attorney. The prosecutor, however, is not your attorney. The
prosecutor is conducting the case on behalf of the government. He/she may still
be very helpful but it’s a different kind of relationship.
Ask your attorney or an advocate to go over for you what is going to happen.
Find out if you will be able to stay in the courtroom the entire time or whether
you will need to be outside the courtroom until after you testify. Let your
attorney or the prosecutor know what things you think are particularly
important to stress, and ask your attorney what questions he or she plan to ask
you. Make sure you’ve told your attorney (or the prosecutor) any thing that your
assailant plans to use against you (past arrests, history of drug abuse).
Who to bring and who not to bring to court:
Take someone supportive with you if you possibly can. (Other survivors say
this is really important). Going alone to court is a bad idea. The Women’s
Center can usually send an advocate with you to court. (Please let us know as
soon as you have any court date). If you can manage child care, don’t bring
your kids. It’s hard for them, and distracting for you. Sometimes a survivor will
bring a family member or friend along who is not supportive, who argues with
the survivor, or who needs a lot of emotional attention. Choose a support person
carefully (although sometimes choices are limited).
If you are representing yourself in a divorce, custody, or personal protection
order case, let the bailiff or the judges clerk know when you arrive in the
courtroom. If you are the victim/witness in a criminal case, let the prosecutor
know when you arrive.
The assailant, the assailant’s friends, and members of the assailant’s family
might try to approach you, talk to you, get into an argument with you or harass
you. Sometimes you and supporters of the assailant are waiting in the same hall.
If your assailant is not in custody, he may be sitting near you. His sister might
follow you to the bathroom. Stay with your support people if you can. There is
usually another private room that you can wait in—check with your attorney,
prosecutor, or advocate.
Your assailant’s attorney or the defense attorney may come up to you at the
hearing (or call before hand) to talk about the case. You are not required to talk
to the assailant’s attorney NOR to the defense attorney. He or she may try to
make you feel guilty or pressure you.
Report any unwanted contacts to the prosecutor (if a criminal case) or your
attorney (if a civil case). Don’t be afraid to approach the bailiff or any police
officer. Tell him or her that you’re a victim of domestic violence, your assailant
(or his friends or family) is around and you would appreciate his (or her) keeping
an eye on the situation. Let him or her know about any no contact or personal
protection orders that might prohibit the assailant or members of his family from
approaching you. You can ask for a law enforcement officer to walk you to your
car after the court appearance.
Take care of yourself both physically and emotionally before and during
court time. Avoid using alcohol or other drugs, and do try to eat something. Talk
to people who are emotionally supportive of you. Before you get on the stand,
take several deep breaths and center yourself.
Dress conservatively and comfortably. Avoid party or sports clothes, and
extremes of dress or makeup. Dress the way you would to apply for a job, or go
to a funeral.
Take some time before going to court to think about and accurately recall the
events that you will be talking about on the stand. Refresh your own memory. If
you have a copy of the police report, reread that.
The most important thing is to tell the truth as best you can remember it.
Avoid talking to or looking at the assailant. You may be directed by the judge
to identify the assailant by where he is sitting and what he is wearing. Aside
from that, the courtroom is typically set up so if you look straight ahead or at the
judge or jury, you will not see him.
When you testify, look at the jury. If there is no jury, look at the judge. If one
juror looks skeptical or bored, find one that looks interested and look at him or
her. If the attorney for the assailant complains, look at the judge for direction. If
the judge tells you to look at the attorney for the assailant, look just over his
Sometimes your assailant’s attorney will ask you several questions at once. For
example: “When did the police arrive and what did they do when they got
there?” Answer the first one. Don’t try to answer them all. Take a deep breath
and think for a second before answering questions. It is okay to say, “I don’t
know” if you don’t know the answer to a particular question. It’s fine to say, “I
don’t understand the question”, or “Could you repeat that question?” If the
assailant’s attorney asks you something insulting or nasty, pause before you
answer and look at your attorney (or the prosecutor) giving them time to object.
If there is an objection and the judge agrees, you may not have to answer the
Sometimes your assailant’s attorney will try to twist what you said or assign
interpretations to it. For example: “You were furious at him, weren’t you?” or
“You wanted him to get in trouble and that’s why you called the police, right?”
Feel free to say, “That’s not what I meant” or “That’s not what I said”.
The assailant’s attorney may deliberately try to make you angry. If you can, try
not to show it. If the assailant’s attorney gets mad, and you don’t, you will come
across as the reasonable one.
Good luck and may justice prevail!
A. When can the police arrest an assailant without a warrant?
1. felony or misdemeanor committed in the officer’s presence;
2. felony based on probable cause;
3. misdemeanor domestic assault, or aggravated domestic assault
when there is probable cause to believe an assault took place and
a domestic relationship exists (even if the officer did not witness
the assault) (MCLA 764.15a);
4. violation of a personal protection order when there is reasonable cause to
believe that the personal protection order has been violated {MCLA
5. violation of the provisions of a conditional release on bond based on
reasonable cause (MCLA 764.15e AND MCLA 765.6b); and
6. violation of probation or parole based on reasonable cause (MCLA
When a misdemeanor domestic assault has occurred, a police officer DOES
NOT have to witness the crime in order to make an arrest. In order to arrest for
MOST misdemeanors, the police officer DOES have to witness the crime.
To arrest without witnessing the crime, the police officer must:
• establish reasonable cause that an assault has taken place, AND
• the victim and suspect must have one of the protected relationships (spouse,
former spouse, living together, formerly living together, child
in common).
The victim does NOT need a personal protection order for an arrest to take
place if s/he has been assaulted.
Visible signs of injury are not necessary.
The victim doesn’t have to be “willing to prosecute” for an arrest to take
place. If they believe a domestic assault has occurred, the police will probably
arrest the assailant even if the victim asks them not to do so.
Police may arrest without a warrant if you were dating the assailant. (If you
are dating the assailant, but not living with him, you CAN get a domestic
violence or anti-stalking personal protection order—see the section on
B. What if the police don’t respond?
1.Call again, and ask to talk to a supervisor. Say “I am the victim of a domestic
assault. I need protection. Please help me.” Be persistent, but courteous. Tell
them about any weapons present or injuries to you or your children.
All calls to 911 are recorded.
2.Call the Harbor House Crisis Line at 226-6611 Marquette County or 1-800455-6611 in Alger County.
3.Call Prosecutor’s Office: 225-8310.
C. What if the police don’t arrest?
1. Ask them to help you get to a safe place.
2. Call the Women’s Center Crisis Line at 226-6611 Marquette County or 1800-455-6611 in Alger County.
3. Remember, if the police don’t arrest right away, that does not mean that
your assailant cannot be arrested or prosecuted later. Call Harbor House to
discuss the particular circumstances of your case. We can advise you on how
to proceed.
D. How to get the best police response?
• Try to remain as calm as you can.
• Don’t shout at the police—it won’t help.
• Ask to talk to one of the officers privately. Then you won’t be interrupted
by your assailant.
• Be as specific as you can in telling the officer what happened. Say “He
grabbed me by the arm and threw me on the floor,” rather than “He came
at me and messed me up.”
• Show them any injuries you may have. Show them any damaged property.
• Tell them about any witnesses.
• Tell them if there have been past assaults.
• Show them any “no-contact” or personal protection orders you have.
• Tell them if you have been sexually assaulted.
• Let them know about any injuries to the children.
• If your assailant has been using alcohol or other drugs, tell the police.
• If there is another warrant out for your husband or partner, let them know.
If your assailant is arrested, he will be taken into custody,
taken to the police station, and booked. He will be held until the
next court session, when he will be arraigned. After arraignment,
he will be released. If arraignment is not held within 24 hours, he
will be released on interim bond, after being held for 20 hours.
The longest he will be in jail for a misdemeanor assault and
battery arrest is 20 hours, unless he can’t post the bond set by the court.
The police should give you a “victim’s rights” sheet. They should take a
report. The victim’s rights sheet should have the report number and the names
and badge numbers of the police officers. Police procedures may be somewhat
different depending on where you live.
We will also:
• listen and talk to you about what has happened
• give you information about domestic violence and Harbor House services
• help you make a safety plan
• help you decide what you want to do next
• give you information about the criminal justice system
• tell you how you can get a personal protection order
• talk to your children and do safety planning with them
• offer you shelter
• transport you to medical care
• talk to you about alcohol and other drugs
• discuss sexual assault
• make referrals
• tell you what your rights are, and what to expect from the legal system
We are available to help and accompany you throughout the court process. A
Legal Advocate will call you following our visit to see how you are doing and to
offer you support throughout the progression of the court case.
The jail should try to contact you when your assailant is released from jail.
They should also contact Harbor House and we will try to contact you. You may
want to call the jail and make sure that they have the best number to reach you
at when your assailant is released. Your assailant will usually be released between
10 a.m. and 6:00 p.m. You can also call the jail to find out where and at what
time your assailant will be arraigned. The jail can also give you a better idea
about what time you should call back to find out if your assailant is being
released, if there is a money bond that is keeping him in jail, and if the judge
issued any conditions of bond which may prohibit your assailant from contacting
you or coming home. The jail’s phone number is 906-225-8345.
The police officers will sign the complaint “based on information and belief.”
You do not have to sign the complaint. Once the police have made an arrest for
domestic assault, the decision to “press charges” is made by the Prosecutor. Your
assailant may ask or tell you to “drop the charges”. Victims may not drop charges
in this county—only the Prosecutor can do that.
The police will send the incident report and complaint to the Prosecutor for
authorization. If the complaint is authorized, it will proceed.
After the suspect/defendant/assailant has been arrested or
charged, he is arraigned. If the defendant has been arrested for
assault and battery, arraignment will almost always take place
before the assailant is released. You do not need to be present
(although you can be there if you want). You can call the jail to
find our when and where your assailant will be arraigned. At arraignment, he is
given notice of the charges against him, and advised of his constitutional rights.
The conditions and amount of bail are determined, and a date is set for the pretrial.
Domestic violence assailants are usually released on “personal recognizance,”
which means that he’s let out of jail without putting up money to make sure he
shows up. Depending on the severity of the crime, the judge may order the
assailant to post bail to get out of jail.
At the arraignment (or later in the process), a no-contact order could be
issued. The assailant could also be told not to return to your residence.
No-contact orders are conditions of bond OR probation. They can be
issued in misdemeanor OR felony cases.
When there are conditions of BOND, they are issued by the judge/magistrate
during the prosecution of a criminal case of domestic violence. Usually they are
issued at arraignment, but they can also be issued at pre-trial or sentencing.
You may ask the judge for a no-contact order by calling his/her office OR by
showing up in person OR a Harbor House advocate can ask the judge for you.
Sometimes the police will put in their report that you requested no-contact, and
sometimes the judge does it on his/her own.
No-contact orders can prohibit your assailant from contacting you in
person, by phone, mail or through a third party or from coming to your home
or work.
During the prosecution of the case, before sentencing, the no-contact order
must be listed as a bond condition on the police computers. If the assailant
violates the no-contact order, he can be arrested immediately. When the nocontact order is issued during the criminal trial, what it prohibits is entered on
the police computer.
No-contact orders last only as long as the prosecution of the criminal case.
After the criminal case is over you must get a personal protection order if
you want the provisions of the no contact order to continue.
The judge may also order no-contact as a condition of probation. If, after your
assailant is convicted, he is put on probation, no-contact may be ordered. If he
violates that order, he could go to jail.
The defendant can enter a plea of guilty, not guilty or nolo contendere (no
contest), or stand mute. The defendant can request a court appointed defense
attorney at the arraignment.
If not appointed at the arraignment, the Court will appoint an attorney to
represent the defendant at the pretrial (unless the defendant has hired his own
If the suspect pleads not guilty, he may choose between a trial by jury or a trial
by the judge (known as a bench trial). (In a bench trial, there is no jury and the
judge makes the decision.) At the pre-trial, the court usually will set a date for
trial and may hear motions to determine what types of evidence will be
admitted. The prosecutor and defense attorney may discuss whether your
assailant might plead guilty to the crime charged or to some other lesser offense.
You may want to be present.
The prosecutor will try to prove that the defendant is guilty of committing the
crime, beyond a reasonable doubt. The prosecutor (or city attorney in some
jurisdictions) must call witnesses. The defendant is not required to call
witnesses, nor is he required to testify. You need to be present, and you may need
to testify. If the defendant is found guilty, the judge will set a date for sentencing.
After the suspect is convicted and before the judge sentences him, the
Probation Department may make a pre-sentence investigation report. As part of
the pre-sentence investigation, the probation officer may contact you and ask
for your opinion. You can talk to probation by telephone, in person, or submit a
letter with your feelings about the incident and an appropriate sentence. At
sentencing, the judge will have considered the probation department’s report,
and their recommendation. The judge may order the defendant to do
community service or to enter counseling, and has the option of ordering the
defendant to make restitution to the victim. If the defendant is put on
probation, it means that he will not go to jail as long as he meets the conditions
of the probation. If the defendant violates the conditions of the probation, he
could be sent to jail. No-contact could be part of his conditions of probation.
This is similar to a no-contact order issued during a criminal trial, but when it is
entered into L.E.I.N. it will not have details about the bond conditions on
After he is convicted, the assailant has the right to appeal to the Circuit
Court. If your partner has been arrested or charged with a FELONY Crime, here
is what will happen:
After the suspect/defendant/assailant has been arrested or
charged, he is arraigned. Most often, arraignment will take place
before the assailant is released. You do not need to be present. At
arraignment, he is given notice of the charges against him, and
advised of his constitutional rights. The conditions and amount
of bail are determined, and a date is set for the preliminary examination within
14 days of arraignment. If you are being harassed by your assailant, the
prosecutor can ask the judge to revoke his bail. The judge may issue a no-contact
order (see above under misdemeanor arraignments).
Within seven days of the arraignment, but not less than 24 hours before the
preliminary examination, the prosecutor must give you: a) a statement of the
procedural steps in the trial, b) information about the crime victim’s
compensation act, c) suggested procedures if you are subjected to threats, and d)
a person to contact for further information.
Upon your request, the prosecutor must: give you notice of any court
proceedings and schedule changes; consult with you regarding the disposition of
the crime (this can include dismissal, plea or sentence negotiations, or pre-trial
diversion programs); and confer with you prior to a plea. If you are afraid that
your assailant may use further violence against you, the prosecutor may ask the
court to protect you from disclosing your address, place of employment or other
personal identification.
You should receive a form from the Marquette County Prosecutor’s office that
you must send back in order to get these rights. You need to keep the
Prosecutor’s office informed of your address and telephone numbers.
This is a hearing before the judge. The prosecutor presents witnesses to
convince the District Court judge that a crime was in fact committed and there
is probable cause to believe that the defendant has committed that crime. The
defendant is represented by an attorney who can cross-examine the witnesses
and present evidence. If probable cause is established, the defendant is sent
(“bound over”) to Circuit Court for trial. A defendant can decide not to have a
preliminary examination. If the judge finds that there is probable cause, then the
case goes to the Civil/Criminal Division of the Circuit Court. You will be
subpoenaed and may have to testify at this hearing.
After the case is sent to Circuit Court, the defendant is again arraigned.
The court may hear motions to determine whether evidence will be admitted
or whether there is some legal reason why the defendant should not be tried.
The prosecutor and defense attorney may decide whether the defendant will
plead guilty to the crime charged or some other lesser offense. You do not need
to be present.
If you request, you have the right to consult with the Prosecuting Attorney
prior to the trial.
The prosecutor will try to prove that the defendant committed the crime—
that he is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. The prosecutor must call all the
witnesses needed to prove guilt. The defendant is not required to call witnesses.
You need to be present, and you may need to testify. If the defendant is found
guilty, the judge will set a date for sentencing.
You have the right to be present throughout the trial, unless you are going to
be a witness. If you are a witness, you will be kept out of the courtroom until you
After the suspect is convicted and before the judge sentences him, the
Probation Department makes a pre-sentence investigation report. As part of the
pre-sentence investigation, the probation officer may contact you and ask for
your opinion. At sentencing, the judge will have considered the probation
department’s report, and their recommendation.
The judge may order the defendant to do community service or to enter
counseling, and has the option of ordering the defendant to make restitution to
the victim. If the defendant is put on probation, it means that he will probably
not go to jail as long as he meets the conditions of the probation. If the
defendant violates the conditions of the probation, he could be sent to jail.
If you request it, the Prosecutor must let you know:
• what crimes the assailant was convicted of,
• about your right to make a written or oral statement for use in the presentence investigation. It can include the nature and extent of any physical,
psychological, or emotional harm you’ve suffered,
• the extent of any economic loss or property damage you have suffered, your
opinion of the need for restitution, and your recommendation for an
appropriate sentence. This statement will be available to your assailant
unless the court orders otherwise.
• the address and telephone number of the probation office which is preparing
the pre-sentence investigation report.
• the time and place of the sentencing.
• your right to make a statement at the defendant’s sentencing.
After he is convicted, the assailant has the right to appeal to the Michigan
Court of Appeals. Upon your request, the Prosecutor will notify you of the
• notice that the assailant has filed an appeal
• a brief explanation in plain English of the appeal process
• whether the assailant is out on bail
• the time and place of any appeal court proceedings
• the result of the appeal
You have to be living in Michigan for six months before you
can file for divorce, and you must be living in the County you are
filing in for ten days. You don’t have to be living apart from your
spouse to file.
If you are married and have children with your spouse, you
must file first for divorce before you can file for custody.
You don’t have to prove adultery or cruelty to get a divorce in Michigan. You
only have to show that your marriage has broken down [MCLA 552.6, MSA
25.86]. You can get a divorce if your husband doesn’t want one. The judge can
look at fault when deciding how the property will be divided, and whether a
spouse is entitled to alimony.
The spouse who files first is called the plaintiff. The other spouse is called the
defendant. Divorces are filed in the Family Division of Circuit Court.
After the complaint is filed and before the divorce is final, court orders for
temporary custody, visitation, child support, and alimony can be requested.
A divorce becomes final when the court enters a judgment of divorce after the
two parties settle the case with the help of their attorneys. The judgment
contains information about who gets property, who has custody, and issues about
visitation and custody of the children. A divorce may be granted in 60 days if
there are no minor children. When there are minor children, the waiting period
is extended to 180 days.
Divorce kits? There is something called a “do it yourself divorce kit.” They
can only be used when the parties come to total agreement about everything.
They cannot be used in cases of domestic violence.
Finding an attorney: A good lawyer who knows about domestic assault is
essential if you are going to file for divorce. Call the Harbor House crisis line at
226-6611 Marquette County or 1-800-455-6611 in Alger County for a
referral to attorneys.
Separate maintenance allows the parties to live apart, legally separated and
free from the responsibilities of marriage, but still be technically married. A
separate maintenance action may provide for the support of a spouse who
requires it [MCLA 552.7, MSA 25.87].
Separate maintenance is available only if both parties are willing to accept it.
If the defendant in a separate maintenance action files a counterclaim for
divorce, the court can grant a divorce, but not separate maintenance.
There is no such thing as “legal separation” in Michigan.
A custody order specifies with whom your child(ren) will live. Custody and
visitation are two different things. The judge can give custody to one parent
(sole custody) or to both parents (joint custody). Until there is a court order,
both parents have equal rights to the custody of their child. Either parent may
file a motion to obtain custody.
Personal Protection Orders can grant the petitioner “temporary possession” of
the children. Read the section on Personal Protection Orders for more
The Friend of the Court is the arm of the Family Division of the Circuit Court
that conducts investigations and makes recommendations to the court regarding
child custody, visitation, support, alimony and property. It also enforces the
court’s orders relating to child support, alimony, custody, and visitation.
A married woman can request temporary custody when she files for divorce if
the children are hers, and are in her possession. The judge can grant such an
order “ex-parte” (without a hearing or notice to the other party).
The parent who files first and is in possession of the children usually gets
temporary custody. When the parent who does not get temporary custody is
served with the papers, s/he has ten days in which to request a hearing about the
If custody is disputed, you should make an appointment to see the Friend of
the Court as soon as you get temporary custody. They will make a
recommendation about who gets permanent custody.
If there is no acknowledged paternity (he is not on the birth certificate), the
mother has legal custody.
However, the father may initiate custody proceedings. You should consult an
attorney and consider getting a custody order to prevent him from doing so first.
If the man is legally the father, you cannot get automatic permanent custody.
You should ask your attorney to file for an “ex-parte” custody order.
We do not recommend “joint custody” when there has been domestic violence.
It requires cooperation and agreement between the two parents. Joint custody will
increase the danger of continuing abuse and harassment by your partner.
The Friend of the Court makes recommendations about what they believe is
“reasonable visitation.” The law assumes that it is in the best interest of the
child to have strong relationships with both parents, unless it is shown by “clear
and convincing evidence” that visitation would endanger the child’s physical,
mental or emotional health.
The court has the power to restrict visitation by: requiring that the visits
occur in the presence of a third party or agency; requiring that a party post a
bond to assure compliance with the visitation order; and any other reasonable
conditions determined to be appropriate in the particular case.
Supervised visitation might be ordered if it is shown (through police reports,
hospital records, Harbor House testimony) that your life is in danger or the
children are in danger. The Friend of the Court might recommend third party
visitation at another location.
They are more likely to recommend third party or supervised visitations if
there is evidence that the father has abused or neglected the children.
Victims of crime who suffer personal physical injury may be eligible for
compensation from the Crime Victims Compensation Board. Assistance may
include compensation for certain kinds of out-of-pocket losses, loss of earnings
and/or loss of support. You can get a claim form from the Prosecuting Attorney’s
office or from Harbor House.
You must file within a year of the crime. The crime must be reported to the
police within 48 hours, unless the Board finds that there was good cause for the
delay. To recover an out of pocket loss, you must show a loss of at least $200 in
medical expenses.
A person requesting compensation cannot be criminally responsible for the
crime and cannot be an accomplice. You must be willing to cooperate with law
enforcement agencies in the investigation of the crime and with the courts in
the prosecution. You cannot recover losses for personal property or pain and
If you have lived with your assailant, you cannot receive loss of earnings, or
loss of support, and any out of pocket loss must be paid by the Board directly to
each medical care provider.
The court may order financial restitution paid to you for pain and suffering,
loss of work time, medical costs, property damage, etc. One of the difficulties
here is getting the assailant to pay after the court has ordered it.
Civil Suits for Damages Caused by Stalker
[MCLA 600.2954(1)]
If you are a victim of stalking, there is a special law which allows you to sue
the stalker for the damages caused by the stalking, and allows you to recover:
actual costs (e.g. property damage, lost wages, medical/therapy costs, etc.);
general and special damages (physical and/or emotional pain and suffering);
exemplary damages; court costs; and reasonable attorney fees. A lawsuit may be
brought regardless of whether or not the stalker has been charged or convicted
in a criminal case.
Victims of assaults covered by domestic violence personal protection orders
also may have a civil claim for damages under common law theories of assault
and battering, tortious infliction of emotional distress, or other theories.
Recoverable damages, however, would not include attorney fees, since those are
only allowed if provided for by statute.
[MCLA 600.2950, 600.295A, 764.15B]
Personal protection orders are civil orders. PPOs were formerly known as
restraining orders, injunctions, or domestic assault restraining orders. In
Marquette County, they are handled by the Circuit/Family Court. Usually one
judge, (not necessarily from the Family Division, but specially assigned there for
this purpose) handles PPOs.
Personal protection orders may be granted by the court whenever there is an
immediate danger that you have been or are likely to be physically hurt by your
intimate partner. (See below for definition of intimate partner).
They were created to protect you from things that your assailant does that
may not be crimes, but may be part of the battering (such as calling you every
hour or showing up where you work). Depending on the facts in your situation, the
PPO can also give you temporary possession of any minor children you have with your
intimate partner. In certain circumstances, it could order the partner to move out of
your home. These things can be put into a PPO, and the court can tell your
assailant he can’t do them. If he violates that order of the court (the PPO), then
he could be arrested and sentenced to jail.
The first step to get a PPO is to fill out a request. This request is called a
Petition. There are preprinted forms that you fill out to explain to the judge why
you need a PPO (forms are provided by the Prosecuting Attorney’s Office). The
best way to do that is to write down the history of what has happened with your
partner. The Petition must be filed in the Family Division of the Circuit Court
at 234 West Baraga Avenue, Marquette, MI. A staff person at the Court takes
the petition to the judge.
To file for a P.P.O, call the Harbor House at 226-6611 in Marquette County
or 1-800-455-6611 Alger County.
The Harbor House will provide you with an advocate who can help you fill
out and file the petition.
Remember, the Women’s Center Legal Advocates are not attorneys, cannot
give you legal advice, and cannot represent you in court.
If you don’t want to or can’t wait for Harbor House to assist you, you can fill
out these forms yourself at the Prosecutor’s Office with the assistance of a staff
person. You can get a set of the PPO forms from Harbor House, or the
Prosecutor’s Office.
We think that it’s easier when you get help from the Harbor House to fill out
a PPO, but of course it’s up to you.
A Harbor House Advocate will talk with you more about this in detail. If you
decide to seek a PPO, it usually takes one to two hours to do the paper work and
another one to two hours to go to court.
When you call the Harbor House for a PPO, you will be asked a number of
questions about your situation. This is to help you figure out options and help
you be safe.
There are two types of personal protection orders:
1) domestic violence personal protection orders (also known as domestic
relationship personal protection orders) (MCLA 600.2950) which require a
domestic relationship, and
2) anti-stalking personal protection orders (also known as non-domestic
relationship stalking personal protection orders) (MCLA 600.2950a) which
do not require a domestic relationship, but do require a pattern of
unconsented contact.
To get a domestic violence PPO, you must show the court that there is a
domestic relationship AND reasonable cause to believe your partner has done one
or more of the acts that you list in the PPO.
To get an anti-stalking PPO, you must show to the court that an individual has
committed two or more of the acts you list and is likely to continue.
The request to the court must state specific incidents of assaults and/or threats,
and may describe injuries and list witnesses. Criminal convictions or police reports are
not required to get personal protection orders. However, if you do have a police report
(or the number of the police report), or a hospital report, it is helpful to include it.
You do not need an attorney to go to court to get a PPO. However, the forms
are difficult to navigate. Most people need some help to fill them out. See
previous section for more information.
After being served, the assailant has the right to object to the personal
protection order, and request a hearing. If your assailant asks for a hearing on
the PPO, and you don’t already have an attorney we recommend that you get
There is no state filing fee for obtaining a personal protection order.
The judge decides whether to issue a personal protection order. If the judge
does not, s/he must immediately state in writing and on the record the reasons
You may keep your address confidential, but must give the court some address
where you can receive mail (e.g. notice of any court hearings).
The order goes into effect immediately after the judge signs it. However,
police may not arrest your assailant when the order is violated, unless there is
proof that the order has been served on the assailant. When the police come,
they can If there is a violation before service has been made, the (i.e. leave the
premises) the police can arrest. The police can also serve the assailant with the
PPO at that time.
If the PPO has been signed, but not served, and the police are called because
your assailant has violated the order, the police should give oral notice to your
assailant and serve him with the ppo (if he has not left). If he continues to
violate the order after being notified by the police, the police could then arrest
Service can be by a process server or by any adult who is not a party or a
witness to the dispute. The Sheriff’s Department performs this service free of
charge. It may be by registered mail, but the signed receipt is needed to
demonstrate valid service of the order (i.e. that the assailant received a copy of
the order). If you need help with service, please call us at Harbor House.
You cannot “invalidate” or “nullify” a personal protection order by “violating
it” (i.e. by inviting the assailant over). The personal protection order is a court
order restraining the assailant, not you, from certain behaviors. However, too
many police are confused about this issue and may not arrest if they believe you
invited the assailant into your house.
If you decide that you want to modify the personal protection order or cancel
it, you will need to petition the court. The judge will ask you if you are being
pressured or intimidated into modifying or canceling the order.
If there is service, police may arrest without a warrant when there is probable
cause to believe an assailant has violated the personal protection order and they
can easily find the assailant
If the police make an arrest, a hearing is held.
If the police do not arrest, you must request a hearing, and seek to hold the
assailant in contempt of court, by contacting the court and filing a petition for
a show cause hearing.
If the assailant is found by the judge to have violated the order of the court,
the assailant could be sentenced to up to 93 days in jail and may receive a $500
fine or both.
You must be in one of the following relationships to obtain a domestic
violence personal protection order:
• married; or formerly married;
• living together; or formerly living together;
• have a child in common; (7/1/94)
• dating relationship; or former dating relationship. (4/1/95)
Notice that this is slightly different than the relationships needed for
warrantless arrest.
“Dating relationship” is defined legally as frequent, intimate associations
primarily characterized by the expectation of affectional involvement. The term
does not include a casual relationship or an ordinary fraternization between two
individuals in a business or social context.
High school students, lesbian, and gay male couples who have not lived
together CAN get a domestic violence personal protection order because of the
dating violence provision being added to the law.
Domestic violence personal protection orders and anti-stalking personal
protection orders can be confusing because they are civil orders of the court but
may be enforced by arrest and criminal contempt penalties.
Domestic violence personal protection orders can order your assailant not to:
• enter your premises;
• assault, attack, beat, molest or wound you; (but, attacks, beatings, and
wounds are crimes for which you don’t need a PPO for the police to arrest);
• threaten to kill or physically hurt you;
• remove your minor children if you have legal custody, except if there’s a
custody or visitation order issued by a court of competent jurisdiction;
• purchase or possess firearms;
• interfere with your efforts to remove your children or personal property from
premises that you solely own or lease;
• interfere with you at work or doing things that hurt your employment
relationship or environment;
• do any other specific act or conduct that imposes upon or interferes with
your personal liberty or that causes a reasonable apprehension of violence
including stalking.
The law allows a non-custodial parent to have access to a child’s records,
including school and medical records. If you are the custodial parent, and you
are hiding, you could get a personal protection order to prohibit the recordkeeper from releasing your address, phone number and employment
information. If you do, a copy of the PPO will have to be served on each recordkeeper.
Anti-stalking personal protection orders can be obtained when the stalker
does not have a domestic relationship (as defined above) with the victim. When
you are being battered i.e. you do have a domestic relationship with your
assailant, you may want anti-stalking provisions added to your domestic violence
personal protection order. (MCLA 600.2950a)
These provisions can order the assailant to stop:
• following you or appearing within your sight;
• approaching or confronting you in a public place or on private property;
• appearing at your home, work or school or a shelter (if you are staying
in one);
• entering onto or remaining on property you own, lease, or occupy;
• contacting you by telephone, mail or electronic mail;
• placing an object on or delivering an object to property you own, lease,
or occupy.
To maximize the effectiveness of a personal protection order, it is important
for you to do the following:
• Carry a copy of the order with you (along with a proof of service) whenever
possible. This is not required for enforcement, but is a good idea, and it
helps get the order enforced.
• If the assailant violates the order but has not been served, and you call the
police, the police can serve him if you have a copy.
• Verify (or have your attorney verify) that the order and proof of service is
on L.E.I.N.
• Let your employer, school, and friends know about the PPO and ask them
to call the police if your assailant shows up.
Call the police. The police should arrest if there is probable cause to believe
the personal protection order has been violated and the order has been served.
The police may not be ABLE to arrest him if he has left the scene and cannot
be found in a reasonable period of time.
• Call the police station and ask to speak to the supervisor or command
officer. Explain the situation politely but firmly. If you do not get a helpful
response, ask to talk to the next person up.
• Call the Harbor House at 226-6611 Marquette County or 1-800-455-6611
in Alger County, and tell us what has happened. We may be able to help
you explain the situation to the police.
• Call your attorney (as soon as you can).
• Call Prosecutor’s Office.
Unfortunately, the enforcement of protection orders varies from place to
place. Police in Marquette County are more likely to enforce protection orders
than most other counties in Michigan. Enforcement can be spotty even within
police agencies.
Police officers are less likely to enforce if they think you have initiated
contact with your assailant. Some police do not know that in Michigan they are
allowed to arrest on the scene for violation of a personal protection order. [MCL
764.15b; MSA 28.874(2)]
This section is designed to give you concrete information about the laws on
protection orders issued in one place that need to be enforced in
other places.
It is usually easier to get a protection order enforced in the place that it was
issued than in other places. If you are moving, visiting, working in a different
community or going on vacation, you will need to think about personal
protection order issues.
Always carry a true copy of your PPO and proof of service with you. In
Marquette County, a true copy has a stamp saying “true copy” and a signature
on it.
Personal protection orders can usually be enforced across state, tribal and
territorial lines. The federal law called the Violence Against Women Act (1994)
has a provision called “Full Faith and Credit”. It states that a valid personal
protection order can be enforced in all 50 states, Indian tribal lands, the District
of Columbia, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, American Samoa, the
Northern Mariana Islands and Guam. (Note! A valid order of protection issued by
a tribe must be recognized by state courts. However, tribes are sovereign nations
and they may or may not recognize protection orders from other tribes or states)
Each jurisdiction has different laws, practices, levels of awareness of full faith
and credit, methods of enforcement, and requirements for you to follow. If you are
moving to another place, or if you live in one place and work in another, or if you
are visiting, you probably want to consult with advocates in both places about your
personal protection order.
Law enforcement officers are required to enforce protection orders from other
places the same way that they enforce orders from their own communities. Law
enforcement will try to verify that your protection order is valid within Michigan
by consulting the L.E.I.N. (Law Enforcement Information Network). Also they
may check a national registry. You may want to register your protection order with
the national registry. The national registry is not used by everyone in the same way
and is not foolproof.
You and your advocate can get help with “full faith and credit issues” by calling
the Full Faith and Credit Project at 1-800-256-5883 and/or the Battered
Women’s Justice Project at 1-800-903-0111 extension 2.
Note that federal full faith and credit law under the Violence Against Women
Act does not automatically protect your children, even if they are listed in the
protection order.
There are a number of federal laws that relate to domestic
Interstate Travel to Commit Domestic Violence: 18 U.S.C.
It is a federal crime for a person to travel interstate, or leave or
enter Indian country with the intent to injure, harass or intimidate an intimate
partner when in the course of or as a result of the travel the abuser commits a
violent crime that causes bodily injury.
It is a federal crime to cause an intimate partner to cross state lines, or leave or
enter Indian country by force, coercion duress or fraud if the abuser intentionally
inflicts bodily injury on the partner during or as a result of the conduct.
Interstate Stalking: 18 U.S.C. 2261A (this law does not apply to Indian tribes)
It is a federal crime to cross a state line with the intent to injure or harass any person
if, during the course of or as a result of the travel, the defendant places the person or a
member of the person’s family in reasonable fear of death or serious bodily injury.
Federal law prohibits an abuser subject to a qualifying order of protection from
possessing firearms and ammunition.
18 U.S.C. 922(g)(8). Abusers are not permanently banned from possessing
guns only for the time that the order of protection is in existence. Additionally
there are “official” use exemptions which allow law enforcement and military
personnel to possess their service weapon during their working hours.
18 U.S.C. 922(g)(9) prohibits gun possession by anyone who has been
convicted of a qualifying misdemeanor crime of domestic violence. The gun ban
is permanent which means that if a person has been convicted, he/she can never
legally possess a gun again. There is no “official use” exemption and the statute
is retroactive.
Due to space problems, all laws related to domestic violence
cannot be included in this handbook. An excellent summary of
select Michigan sexual assault and domestic violence statutes can
be obtained from the Michigan Resource Center on Domestic
and Sexual Violence, a project of The Michigan Coalition
Against Domestic and Sexual Violence, 517-347-1377. You can
find them on line at
In addition, the Michigan bench book on domestic violence, written to give
guidance to judges is online. It has a very complete description of state laws. The
url is:
25th Circuit
Thomas L. Solka Chief Judge Pro Tem, . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .(906)-225-8205
John R. Weber, Chief Judge . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .(906)-225-8217
Fax: . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .(906)-225-8215
Courthouse: 234 W. Baraga Avenue, Marquette, MI 49855
Administrative Aide: Judge Solka . . . . . . . . . . . . . .(906)-225-8205
Administrative Aide: Judge Weber . . . . . . . . . . . . .(906)-225-8217
Court Clerk: David J. Roberts . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .(906)-225-8330
Friend of the Court: Carolyn L. Hanson . . . . . . . . .(906)-225-8262
Probation Department . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .(906)-225-8224
District 96
James M. Collins, Chief Judge
Dennis H. Girard, Chief Judge Pro Tem
Courthouse, 234 W. Baraga
Marquette, MI 49855 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .(906)-225-8235
Fax: . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .(906)-225-8255
Mag/Ct. Admn., Jennifer Bennon
Mag: Cynthia Cope
Assignment Clerk . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .(906)-225-8234
Probation . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .(906)-225-8250
Court also held at:
308 Cleveland Avenue, Suite 201, Ishpeming, MI 49849 . . .(906)-485-5579
Mag: Sharon Burns
Fax: . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .(906)-485-4725
Probation . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .(906)-485-5794
11th Circuit
Charles H. Stark, Chief Judge . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . (906)-341-3655
Home Office: P.O. Box 186, Manistique, Mi 49854
Court held at:
Alger County, County Building, Munising, MI 49862
Assignment Clerk . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .(906)-341-3655
Court Clerk/Circuit Court Records . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .(906)-387-2076
Friend of the Court . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .(906)-387-4636
Probation Department . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .(906)-387-4921
District 93
Bruce E. Plackowski, Chief Judge
County Building, 101 Court Street, Munising, MI 49862 . . .(906)-387-2941
Mag/Clerk/Admin: Lynne A. Maki . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .(906)-387-3879
Court also held at:
County Courthouse, Manistique, MI 49854 . . . . . . . . . . . . .(906)-341-3631
Mag/Clerk/Admin: Belinda Cole
Chocolay Township Fire Department . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . (906)-249-4040
5010 U.S. 41 South
Marquette, MI 49855
Forsyth Township Police . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . (906)-346-9224
P.O Box 1325
Gwinn, MI 49841
Ishpeming City Police Department . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . (906)-486-4416
308 Cleveland Avenue
Ishpeming, MI 49849
Ishpeming Township Police Department . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . (906)-485-1888
1575 U.S. 41 West
Ishpeming, MI 49849
Keweenaw Bay Tribal Police . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . (906)-249-0901
Marquette City Police Department . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . (906)-228-0400
300 W. Baraga Street
Marquette, MI 49855
Marquette County Prosecutor’s Office . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . (906)-225-8315
234 West Baraga Street
Marquette, MI 49855
Marquette County Sheriff’s Department . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . (906)-225-8435
236 W. Baraga Street
Marquette, MI 49855
Michigan State Police . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . (906)-475-9922
U.S. 41 West,
Negaunee, MI 49866
Northern Michigan University
Attn: Public Safety . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . (906)-227-2151
1401 Presque Isle Avenue
Marquette, MI 49855
Negaunee City Police Department . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . (906)-475-4154
100 Silver Street
Negaunee, MI 49866
Republic Township Police Department . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .(906)-376-8800
118 West Kloman Avenue
Republic, MI 49879
Richmond Township Police Department . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .(906)-475-6556
510 Nicholas Avenue
Palmer, MI 49871
Alger County Prosecutor . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .(906)-387-2117
101 Court Street
Munising, MI 49862
Alger County Sheriff’s Department . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .(906)-387-4444
Corner Park and Varnum
Munising, MI 49862
Munising City Police Department . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .(906)-387-2275
100 West Munising Avenue
Munising, MI 49862
Michigan State Police . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .(906)-387-4551
Great Lakes Recovery . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .(906)-228-7611
Youth . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .(906)-228-4692
Alcoholics Anonymous Hotline . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .(906)-249-4430
National AA Hotline . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .(906)-222-0828
For all women who are or have been in an abusive relationship
All groups are free and confidential.
For further information
call Harbor House at 226-6611
Harbor House Affirmation
I celebrate my courage in coming here.
I was alone, but now I am not alone.
I was victimized but I am no longer a victim.
I name the violence in my life—and declare it wrong.
I name that I need help, and that I am willing to give help.
Nothing I do provokes the violence.
Nothing about me causes the violence.
Nothing gives one person the right to abuse another person.
Abusers can change themselves, but I cannot change them.
Nothing I can do will change my past.
Everything I do changes my future.
I have protected myself and my children.
Resistance to violence, defending myself OR my children is not abuse.
I believe myself; I believe my sisters.
I can ask support; I can give support.
I can change myself; I can change the world.
My being here helps others.
I am not here to judge my sisters, but to support their healing.
I will take the risk to trust other women here.
I affirm the privacy and confidentiality of
every woman in this group.
Every time a sister resists, she creates a
space for resistance around her.
I am here in solidarity with my sisters of all persuasions,
all colors, all orientations, and all faiths to say NO to violence.
We will not be divided by our diversity
—we will be strengthened by it.
In the words of Alice Walker “I am the woman
offering two flowers whose roots are twin.
Justice and Hope. Let us begin.”
Copyright. Safe House. 1996.
Vickie Frederick-Toure and Susan McGee.
Feel free to distribute if no changes are made, and credit is given.
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