District of Columbia

Get Help

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:

It is also helpful to have a lawyer assist you, particularly when you are seeking a protection order. You can find a lawyer using the District of Columbia Bar Association’s website. If you cannot afford a lawyer, contact the Legal Aid Society of the District of Columbia at (202) 628-1161 or contact Neighborhood Legal Services at 202-832-6577.



How to Get Protection

What kind of domestic violence protection orders are available?

DC courts can issue two types of domestic violence protection orders. In one of these orders, the court can help protect you from gun violence or threats of gun violence by an intimate partner:

  • Temporary protection order1*
  • Civil protection orders2*

Respondents* to civil protection orders are required to turn over their firearms to law enforcement within 24 hours of being served* with the order3 and are ineligible to purchase or possess* firearms.4

How can you get a domestic violence protection order?

Click here to see if you are eligible for a protection order in DC.

You can find out more about how to get protection here or at WomensLaw.org.

You can go to the following places to get a protection order:

  • Center in the Moultrie Courthouse (500 Indiana Ave. NW, Room 4550) for temporary or civil protection orders;
  • Greater Southeast Intake Center (1328 Southern Ave., SE, Medical Pavilion, Suite 331) for temporary protection orders, only.

Court forms can be found here.

What do I do if I do not qualify for protection as a victim of intimate violence but I still need protection from someone? If you do not qualify for protection as a victim of intimate partner 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 District of Columbia Bar Association’s website. If you cannot afford a lawyer, contact the Legal Aid Society of the District of Columbia at (202) 628-1161 or contact Neighborhood Legal Services at 202-832-6577.

How can the court help protect you?

In DC, respondents* to civil protection orders cannot possess* or purchase firearms for the duration of the order, plus an additional five years,5 because they are ineligible for a firearms registration certificate;6 if they already have a firearms registration certificate, it will be revoked.7 Civil protection orders require respondents to turn their firearms over to local law enforcement within 24 hours.8 In a civil protection order, DC court can also order whatever relief* it believes necessary to protect you.9 Some of the things a court can order include:

  • Requiring the respondent to turn over firearms to local law enforcement immediately;
  • Ordering law enforcement to retrieve the respondent’s firearms if the respondent does not turn them in as required by law;
  • Requiring the respondent to appear before the court to self-report turning firearms over to law enforcement;
  • Directing law enforcement to follow up with the respondent to make sure the respondent turned over their firearms (including firearms for which the respondent does not have a firearms registration certificate);
  • 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;
  • 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 District of Columbia Bar Association’s website. If you cannot afford a lawyer, contact the Legal Aid Society of the District of Columbia at (202) 628-1161 or contact Neighborhood Legal Services at 202-832-6577.

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.

This page was updated March 29, 2021. Please note that data used are the most recent available data.