Domestic violence is physical abuse or the threat or pattern of abuse between persons with a domestic relationship (i.e. spouses, boy/girlfriend, relatives, partners and roommates).
If you are in an abusive relationship, the most important thing you can do is to have a safety plan in place.
- Have a safe place or room to go if an argument occurs. Make sure it is a place that has a door, but no weapons (such as a bedroom)
- Have a list of safe people to contact
- Keep a cell phone or change with you at all times
- Memorize important phone numbers
- Devise a code word you can use with safe people so they know when to call for help
- Think about what you will say to your partner if he/she becomes violent
- Remember that you have every right to live without fear and violence
Police response to domestic violence
When police respond to a domestic violence call, officers will first bring the situation under control. We then speak to everybody involved. If someone has a visible injury caused by a partner in a domestic situation, the officers are required to arrest the person responsible for the injury. If there are no visible injuries, officers will work to resolve the situation, which generally involves taking a police report and separating the involved parties.
Officers will make an arrest when they have probable cause and legal authority to do so. Probable cause to arrest is established if the officer finds a recent visible injury was caused by a person with a domestic relationship to the victim. If the officer does not make an arrest when probable cause exists, that officer is potentially in violation of Fargo Police Department policy.
"No contact" and restraining orders
There are many different types of orders that are used in different situations. A no contact order can only be issued by a judge, against someone who has been arrested for a domestic violence offense. This order is placed on the arrested person at his or her very first court appearance, prior to being released from custody.
A restraining order is generally not used in domestic violence situations. These are commonly used in neighbor disputes or between people without a domestic relationship. Private attorneys can help you get a restraining order for a small fee.
Orders for protection (or Domestic Violence Protection Orders) are almost always used in domestic situations. Locally, this order can be applied for through the Rape and Abuse Crisis Center if the center determines the criteria exists to put one in place. Victims do not have to report abuse to the police department in order to obtain an order for protection.
The police department is not involved in the issuance of orders of any kind.
Community resources for victims of domestic violence
The resource most commonly used by the Fargo Police Department is the Rape and Abuse Crisis Center (RACC). The center provides excellent advocacy, counseling, education and court assistance and remains involved with clients from beginning to end. You can reach the RACC at 293-7273 or at 1-800-344-7273 .
The YWCA Womens' Shelter is the only safe haven in this area for women and children. This is an area of need in Fargo/Moorhead as the Y is often full and unable to accommodate all those in need of immediate emergency shelter. You can reach the YWCA at 232-2547.
Sometimes victims have not reached the point where they are willing to give up a violent relationship. Fargo has many family counseling centers that can offer assistance and support to victims in this situation.
I Wish the Hitting Would Stop
This is a program co-taught in local elementary schools by an RACC representative and Fargo Police patrol officers. This course addresses violence in the home and answers questions children have about violence and what to do if a violent situation erupts in the home. This program is coordinated by the Rape and Abuse Crisis Center.
For more information on domestic violence, visit these Web sites:
National Coalition Against Domestic Violence
Women Against Domestic Violence
Fargo Police FAQs