If you are a victim and your abuser has a gun or you feel unsafe for other reasons, it is important to work with a victim advocate. The following organizations can help you find an advocate free of charge:
- The National Domestic Violence Hotline at (800) 799-SAFE;
- VictimConnect at (855) 484-2846;
- The Connecticut Domestic Violence Hotline at (888) 774-2900;
- Any of the local domestic violence programs listed here
It is also helpful to have a lawyer assist you, particularly when you are seeking a relief from abuse order. You can find a lawyer using the Connecticut Bar’s website. If you cannot afford a lawyer, information about free- and low-cost legal help is available from Statewide Legal Services of Connecticut.
How to Get Protection
What kind of relief from abuse orders are available in Connecticut?
Connecticut courts can issue two types of relief from abuse orders (also called “restraining orders”). In both of these orders, the court can help protect you from gun violence or threats of gun violence by an intimate partner:
- Ex parte restraining orders1*
- Final restraining orders2*
All respondents* to restraining orders are prohibited by Connecticut law from purchasing or possessing* firearms and are required to get rid of their guns within 24 hours of being served* with the order.3
How can you get a restraining order?
Click here to see if you are eligible for a restraining order in Connecticut.
You can find your local court here.
Court forms can be found here.
What do I do if I do not qualify for protection as a victim of domestic violence but I still need protection from someone? If you do not qualify for protection as a victim of domestic violence but need protection from someone (including a stranger, an acquaintance, or another person not covered under a domestic violence protection order), you might qualify for some other type of order. Contact VictimConnect at (855) 484-2846 or a lawyer for more information. You can find a lawyer using the Connecticut Bar’s website. If you cannot afford a lawyer, information about free- and low-cost legal help is available from Statewide Legal Services of Connecticut.
How can the court help protect you?
In Connecticut, respondents* to relief from abuse orders (also called “restraining orders”) are prohibited from possessing* or purchasing guns for as long as the order lasts. The court will:
- Order a respondent to get rid of their firearms within 24 hours of being served *with the order, by:
- Selling and transferring them to a federally licensed firearms dealer; or
- Giving them to law enforcement; and
- Tell the respondent in writing that they cannot purchase or possess firearms for the duration of the order.4
At the applicant’s* request, sometimes courts provide additional protections from gun violence, such as:
- Ordering the respondent to turn over their firearms to local law enforcement immediately;
- Ordering law enforcement to retrieve the respondent’s firearms if the respondent fails to turn them in as required by law;
- Requiring the respondent to appear before the court to self-report turning over their firearms;
- Directing law enforcement to follow up with the respondent to make sure the respondent turned over their guns;
- Scheduling a follow up compliance hearing* to ensure that the respondent has not accessed additional firearms since the order was issued;
- Ordering law enforcement to go to your home at scheduled times to check in on your safety;
- If the guns are shared marital property, the court can order the sale of the guns and divide the money between you;
- Ordering the respondent to stay away from you, your children, your family, and anyone else in immediate danger, based on the threats and/or actions of the respondent;
- Ordering the respondent not to hurt you or threaten to hurt you in the future;
- Anything else you need to be safe.
How will the court know what you need to protect you from the respondent’s firearms violence?
In your petition* and during any of the hearings* you participate in when you are seeking protection, you will have the opportunity to tell the court about the respondent’s* threats or acts of abuse, especially ones involving firearms. Every situation is different, and it is important to talk to a lawyer about your specific situation. You can find a lawyer using the Connecticut Bar’s website. If you cannot afford a lawyer, information about free- and low-cost legal help is available from Statewide Legal Services of Connecticut.
Your story will help the court decide what relief* to give you. Whether you are filling out court forms or speaking directly to the court, it is important to tell the court about the violence you experienced (working with your lawyer, if you have one), especially if the respondent used or threatened to use a firearm against you, a member of your family, any member of the community, or your pet. Among other things, this may include telling the court:
- About incidents of physical violence or threats of physical violence and include dates wherever you can;
- How the respondent used firearms to hurt or threaten you, your family, your pet(s), or anyone in the community;
- If you fear that the respondent may use firearms violence or threats of firearms violence in the future;
- If the respondent has threatened to harm him/her/themself. This may be a sign that the respondent intends to use a dangerous weapon like a firearm against you, themself, or other people;
- If you can, the type(s), number, and location of firearms the respondent has access to.