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 here.
It is also helpful to have a lawyer assist you, particularly when you are seeking a domestic violence restraining order. You can find a lawyer using the Wisconsin Bar’s website or call them at (800) 362-9082. If you cannot afford a lawyer, contact Wisconsin Legal Action at (855) 947-2529.
How to Get Protection
What kind of domestic violence restraining orders are available?
Wisconsin courts can issue two types of domestic violence 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:
- Temporary restraining orders (domestic abuse)1*
- Injunctions (domestic abuse)2*
Courts can order whatever relief* they believe is necessary to protect you,3 including requiring the respondent* to get rid of his/her/their guns and prohibiting them from getting new ones. Wisconsin law also automatically prohibits respondents to injunctions (domestic abuse) from possessing* firearms4 and requires them to get rid of their firearms.5
How can you get a domestic violence restraining order?
Click here to see if you are eligible for a restraining order in Wisconsin.
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 abuse 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 a harassment injunction or some other type of order. Contact VictimConnect at (855) 484-2846 or a lawyer for more information. You can find a lawyer using the Wisconsin Bar’s website or call them at (800) 362-9082. If you cannot afford a lawyer, contact Wisconsin Legal Action at (855) 947-2529.
How can the court help protect you?
In Wisconsin, respondents* to injunctions (domestic abuse) are prohibited from possessing* or purchasing firearms6 and are required to turn over their firearms to law enforcement or to a third party approved by the court* within 48 hours.7 The court will also schedule a follow-up hearing* to make sure the respondent got rid of his/her/their firearms unless:
- The respondent does not possess any firearms;
- The respondent turns their firearms over to the sheriff within 48 hours; or
- The respondent turns over their firearms to a third party who is not prohibited from possessing firearms and approved by the court, and the third party comes to the injunction hearing and testifies under oath that the respondent has already transferred the firearms to the third party.8
A Wisconsin court can also order whatever relief*it believes is necessary to protect you in both a temporary restraining order (domestic violence) and an injunction (domestic violence).9 Some of the things a court can order include:
- Requiring the respondent to turn over firearms to local law enforcement immediately;
- Prohibiting the respondent from purchasing or possessing firearms while the order is in effect;
- Ordering law enforcement to retrieve the respondent’s firearms if the respondent does not turn them in within 48 hours;
- 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 Wisconsin Bar’s website or call them at (800) 362-9082. If you cannot afford a lawyer, contact Wisconsin Legal Action at (855) 947-2529.
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.