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;
- 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 domestic violence order of protection. You can find a lawyer using the South Carolina Bar’s website or by phone at (800) 868-2284. If you cannot afford a lawyer, contact South Carolina Legal Services online or by phone at (888)346-5592.
How to Get Protection
What kind of domestic violence order of protection is available in South Carolina?
In South Carolina, a court can issue an order of protection to help protect you from gun violence or threats of gun violence by an intimate partner: Certain respondents* to orders of protection are prohibited from possessing* firearms.1 Some courts will also order other relief*,2 including requiring the respondent to get rid of his/her/their guns and prohibiting them from purchasing new ones.
How can you get an order of protection?
Click here to see if you are eligible for an order of protection in South Carolina.
You can find your local court on the left-hand side of the South Carolina Judicial Department’s website under ‘County Information Lookup.’
Court forms can be found here by typing “order of protection” into the second search box (“Search #2”).
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 dating partner, 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 South Carolina Bar’s website or by phone at (800) 868-2284. If you cannot afford a lawyer, contact South Carolina Legal Services online or by phone at (888)346-5592.
How can the court help protect you?
In South Carolina, certain respondents*to orders of protection are prohibited from possessing* firearms.3
At the petitioner’s* request, sometimes courts provide additional protections from gun violence,4 such as:
- Ordering the respondent to turn over his/her/their firearms to local law enforcement immediately;
- Prohibiting the respondent from purchasing firearms;
- Requiring the respondent to appear before the court to self-report turning over their firearms as ordered;
- Directing law enforcement to follow up with the respondent to make sure the respondent turned over their guns as ordered;
- 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 South Carolina Bar’s website or by phone at (800) 868-2284. If you cannot afford a lawyer, contact South Carolina Legal Services online or by phone at (888)346-5592.
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.