Domestic Violence (Family Violence)
Frequently Asked Questions

General Information
  1. How does Connecticut define “Family Violence”?
  2. What is the law in Connecticut related to domestic violence?
  3. What orders of protection are available?
  4. What is the Family Violence Education Program?
Services for Victims of Domestic Violence
  1. What services does the Office of Victim Services (OVS) provide to victims of domestic violence?
  2. What services are available to victims of domestic violence through community-based non-profit agencies?
  3. Is there someone available to provide information and assistance during the court process?
  4. I am a victim of a family violence crime. Can I speak to a Family Relations Counselor about my situation?
  5. What are other related Internet websites that may be of interest to domestic violence victims

Information for those charged with domestic violence
 
What to Expect from Family Services:  

  1. What does Family Services offer its clients in criminal court?
  2.  I have been arrested for family violence; what will happen on my first court date?
  3. What is a protective order and how long will it be in effect?
Referral to Family Services:
  1. How do I get referred to Family Services?
  2. I was referred to Family Services by the Court for an assessment. What will happen?
  3. I have been placed under pre-trial supervision with Family Services. What do I need to do to successfully complete my supervision period?
Program Referrals
  1. What are the standards for domestic violence offender programs in Connecticut?
  2. What is the Family Violence Education Program?
  3. What is the Explore Program?
  4. What is the Evolve Program?
Restraining Orders
  1. What is a restraining order?
  2. Can a restraining order protect me from domestic violence?
  3. How is Family Services involved on the day of a Temporary Restraining Order Hearing?
  4. How do I apply for a restraining order and what forms will I need to complete?
  5. Are there statistics available for orders of protection?
Other information for victims of domestic violence
  1. What resources does Family Services have available to assist parties in reaching an agreement?
  2. How can I receive information about an inmate’s status?
  3. What rights do victims of domestic violence have?
  4. How can I recover financially from the crime?
  5. How do I receive notification about court events?
  6. I have questions about divorce and custody. Can I contact a Family Services office for general information?

General Information
 
1. How does Connecticut define “Family Violence”?

 Often referred to as “domestic violence,” Connecticut law defines “family violence” as an event between family or household members that either causes physical injury, or creates fear that physical injury is about to happen.  Family or household members include people who are related, people who are, or were, married, people who live together, people who have a child together, and people who are, or were recently, in a dating relationship. The law does not view verbal abuse or arguments as family violence unless there is present danger, and it is likely that physical violence will happen. In addition, the law does not view parents’ or guardians’ acts in disciplining minor children as family violence unless abuse happens. Family violence is not a separate crime, and any crime that also involves injury or a fear of injury to a family or household member can be charged as a family violence crime. Examples of crimes that may be charged as a family violence crime include, but are not limited to, assault, kidnapping, disorderly conduct, breach of peace, and sexual assault. In addition, family violence crimes may be charged as misdemeanors or felonies depending on the facts of the case.
 
2. What is the law in Connecticut related to domestic violence?  

These links offer resources and are provided as a starting point for research.

3. What orders of protection are available?

Depending on the facts of each case, the court can issue restraining orders, protective orders, and standing criminal protective orders.

Any family or household member who has been under an ongoing threat of physical pain or physical injury by another family or household member can apply to the Superior Court for a restraining order. Restraining orders are civil orders that the court can issue without the accused person being arrested. A restraining order may tell the person to whom the order applies not to restrain, threaten, harass, assault, molest, sexually assault, or attack the victim, not to go into the family home or the victim’s home, and not to hurt or threaten to hurt any animal owned by the victim. The court may also extend these orders to protect the victim’s minor children. The court will decide how long the restraining order should last, and it may stay in force for up to one year. If the victim thinks that the restraining order should last longer, he or she can apply for more time, and the court can extend the time that a restraining order covers the victim if the court thinks more time is necessary.

Criminal courts can also issue protective orders in cases where a defendant has been arrested for certain crimes involving assault, threatening, stalking, harassment, sexual assault, or risk of injury to a child. Protective orders may tell the defendant not to restrain, threaten, harass, assault, molest, or sexually assault the victim, not to go into the victim’s home, and not to hurt or threaten to hurt any animal that the victim owns. Protective orders stay in force until the criminal case is finished or the order is changed by the court.

Additionally, criminal courts can issue standing criminal protective orders in cases where a defendant has been convicted of certain crimes, including the crimes that would allow the court to issue protective orders, family violence crimes and, if the court finds a reason why it is necessary, any other crime committed against the victim by a family or household member. Like protective orders, standing criminal protective orders may tell the defendant not to restrain, threaten, harass, assault, molest, sexually assault or attack the victim, or may tell the defendant not to go into the family home or the victim’s home. Standing criminal protective orders will stay in force for as long as the court decides unless the court decides later that the order should be changed or revoked.

4. What is the Family Violence Education Program?

Family Violence Educational Program (FVEP): The FVEP is a pretrial program that gives eligible defendants the chance to attend programs that provide education about family violence instead of going to trial. Any defendant who wants to take part in the FVEP must submit an application to the court. If the court grants the defendant’s application, he or she will have to take part in nine, 90 minute sessions of a psycho-educational class that is focused on reducing any future family violence. If the defendant completes this program successfully and follows any other conditions set by the court during the time he or she is taking part in the FVEP, the court will dismiss the charges against the defendant. Classes are offered all over the state by community providers who have contracts with the Judicial Branch.

Services for Victims of Domestic Violence

5. What services does the Office of Victim Services (OVS) provide to victims of domestic violence?
 
      The Office of Victim Services provides:
      (to learn more about a particular service, please click on that service)
6. What services are available to victims of domestic violence through community-based non-profit agencies?

OVS contracts with non-profit agencies to provide services to victims of domestic violence. These services include, but are not limited to, information and referral, criminal justice support/advocacy, therapy, safety planning, group treatment/support, personal advocacy and assistance in filing applications for victim compensation.

Funding is provided by the U.S. Department of Justice Office for Victims of Crime, Victims of Crime Act Victim Assistance Program, the Connecticut General Fund, and the Criminal Injuries Compensation Fund.
The organizations below receive funding from the Office of Victim Services to provide services to victims of domestic violence:

Clifford Beers Guidance Clinic External Link 203-772-1270
Children injured as a result of child sexual abuse, child victims/witnesses of domestic violence, adult victims of domestic violence, and adults molested as children.

Connecticut Coalition Against Domestic Violence External Link 860-282-7899, Hotline: 888-774-2900
Enhanced statewide domestic violence crisis intervention, referral, and counseling services to victims of domestic violence. Family Violence Victim Advocate provides services to adult victims of domestic violence in geographic area courts.

Domestic Violence Crisis Center – Esperanza CT
External Link 203-588-9100
Online service center and 24-7 service phone line designed to provide Spanish-speaking victims of domestic violence with immediate access to information and assistance in their native language.

FSW External Link 203-368-4291
Clinical and support services to victims of domestic violence.

Human Resources Agency of New Britain
External Link 860-612-1781
Bi-lingual/bi-cultural advocacy and referral services for Polish crime victims in New Britain.

Wellmore Behavioral Health
External Link 203-756-7287
Counseling, support, and advocacy for child victims of physical assault, sexual assault, and domestic violence. Counseling and support services to adult victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, or sexual abuse.

7. Is there someone available to provide information and assistance during the court process?

Family Violence Victim Advocates are available in each geographical area court location. Family Violence Victim Advocates are staff members of the local domestic violence program. They provide support and services for victims of family violence. Conversations with a Family Violence Victim Advocate are confidential. This means a Family Violence Victim Advocate will not tell anyone else what you have told them unless you give permission to do so or the law requires it.

There is also a Domestic Violence hotline available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, by dialing 1-888-774-2900, and 1-844-831-9200 (Spanish).

Please be aware that OVS Victim Services Advocates work with domestic violence victims whose cases have been transferred to the judicial district.

OVS Helpline
OVS runs a toll-free helpline to assist callers in obtaining information on OVS programs and services as well as referrals to various agencies that assist victims and their families.

The OVS victim services advocate assigned to the helpline assists victims whose cases are heard in a court that does not have an OVS court-based victim services advocate. Assistance may include informing victims of their rights and of upcoming court dates and helping victims understand the criminal justice system. For more information, please call OVS at 800-822-8428, Monday- Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Court Service Centers
Court Service Centers provide services for self-represented parties, members of the bar, and the community at large. They are located within Judicial District Courthouses, and are staffed by Judicial Branch employees trained to assist all court patrons. Several Court Service Centers have bilingual staff.

8. I am a victim of a Family Violence crime. Can I speak to a Family Relations Counselor about my situation?

Yes, you may contact a Family Relations Counselor who will provide you with information, assistance and a referral to a Family Violence Victim Advocate. In the event of a pending family violence arrest, information you provide to a Family Relations Counselor may be shared with the Court.

If there has been an arrest and it has been referred to Family Services for assessment, a Family Relations Counselor will schedule an appointment to speak to you.

9. What are other related Internet websites that may be helpful to domestic violence victims?

Connecticut Office of the Victim Advocate External Link
United Way of Connecticut, 2-1-1 Infoline External Link
OVS Community-based Non-profit Agencies External Link
Connecticut Department of Correction Victim Services Unit External Link
Connecticut Board of Pardons and Paroles External Link
Connecticut General Statutes, Title 54, Criminal Procedure, Chapter 968, Victim Services
External Link
The Office for Victims of Crime
External Link
http://www.thehotline.org/
External Link
National Organization for Victim Assistance
External Link
National Center for Victims of Crime
External Link
National Network to End Domestic Violence
External Link


Information for those charged with domestic violence

What to expect from Family Services:

10. What does Family Services offer its clients in criminal court?

The Family Relations Counselors who work in Family Services will:
  • Review all family violence arrests
  • Conduct assessment interviews and make recommendations to the court about what should happen with the case
  • Keep track of the progress of cases that the court refers to Family Services for pre-trial case management

11. I have been arrested for family violence; what will happen on my first court date?

Typically, a Family Relations Counselor will interview you before you go in front of a judge the Family Relations Counselor will offer recommendations to the Court regarding:
  • The level of Protective Order that may be necessary
  • The possibility of referring you to Family Services for a more in-depth assessment
  • Whether you might be eligible to have the court refer you to additional programs and services, given the facts of your case

12. What is a protective order and how long will it be in effect?  

A protective order is an order issued by a judge to protect a victim in a criminal case that involves assault, threatening, stalking, harassment, sexual assault, or risk of injury to a child. This order may require you to keep from restraining, threatening, harassing, assaulting, molesting, or sexually assaulting the protected person, to stay out of the protected person’s home, and or to keep from hurting or threatening to hurt any animal owned by the protected person. This order will stay in force until your criminal case is over or the order is changed by the Court.

If you are convicted of any of the crimes listed above, a family violence crime or, under certain circumstances, any other crime against a family or household member, though, the criminal court may issue a standing criminal protective order when it thinks that your history and character and the facts of the case require it. Like protective orders, standing criminal protective orders may tell the defendant not to restrain, threaten, harass, assault, molest, sexually assault or attack the victim, or may tell the defendant not to go into the family home or the victim’s home. Standing criminal protective orders will stay in force for as long as the court decides unless the court decides later that the order should be changed or revoked.


Referral to Family Services:


13. How do I get referred to Family Services?
If you are arrested for a family violence crime, A Family Relations Counselor will interview you before your first court appearance. After you are arraigned, the Family Relations Counselor will tell the court whether the Counselor thinks you should be referred to Family Services.

If you are the victim of a family violence crime, the Family Relations Counselor will make a referral to have a Family Violence Victim Advocate to get in touch with you. The Family Relations Counselor may also speak to you at the court hearing.

14. I was referred to Family Services by the Court for an assessment. What will happen next?

You will get a date and time for an interview with a Family Relations Counselor. You may get this appointment while you are in court or you may get a letter in the mail with the date of the appointment.

You will need to come to this meeting on time. If you cannot keep the appointment you should call the Family Relations Counselor who has been assigned to your case.

A report will be sent to the court, indicating if any services like the Family Violence Education Program are appropriate for the court to consider.


15. I have been placed under pre-trial supervision with Family Services. What do I need to do to successfully complete my supervision period?

  • Follow all court orders
  • Take part in any court-ordered treatment programs
  • Cooperate with the Family Relations Counselor who has been assigned to your case
  • Live a violence-free lifestyle


Program Referrals:

16. What are the standards for domestic violence offender programs in Connecticut?

Standards for Connecticut Domestic Violence Offender Programs may be found here

A list of providers who have committed to following the standards of the Domestic Violence Offender Program Standards Advisory Council can be found here:

 
17.  What is the Family Violence Education Program?
 
Family Violence Educational Programs (FVEP): The FVEP is a pretrial program that gives eligible defendants the chance to attend programs that provide education about family violence instead of going to trial. Any defendant who wants to take part in the FVEP must submit an application to the court. If the court grants your application, you will have to take part in nine, 90 minute sessions of a psycho-educational class that is  focused on reducing any future family violence. If you complete this program successfully and follow any other conditions set by the court during the time that you are in the FVEP, the court will dismiss the family violence charges against you. Classes are offered all over the state by community providers who have contracts with the Judicial Branch.

18.  What is the Explore Program?

Explore is a group-based program for men who have been convicted of domestic violence crimes against female intimate partners. The court can either refer you into this program or make taking part in this program a condition of your probation. You will be required to take part in 26 weekly classes that are 90 minutes long. The classes for this program are offered all over the state by agencies that have contracted with the Judicial Branch.

19. What is the Evolve Program?

Evolve is a behavior modification group-based program for male offenders convicted of domestic violence crimes against female intimate partners. The court can either refer you into this program or make taking part in this program a condition of your probation. The classes meet twice a week for 26 weeks (for a total of 52 sessions), and are currently available in Bridgeport, New Haven, New London, Norwich, and Waterbury by agencies that have contracted with the Judicial Branch.

Restraining orders

20.  What is a restraining order?

A restraining order is an order from the court that tells someone to stop hurting or threatening a protected person. The order can be against:
  • Your spouse or former spouse
  • Someone you are dating or used to date
  • Your child/children’s other parent
  • Your child, parent, or other relative
  • Someone you live with or used to live with
  • A caretaker who is providing shelter to a person 60 years old or older
Any family or household member who has been under an ongoing threat of physical pain or physical injury by another family or household member can apply to the Superior Court for a restraining order. Restraining orders are civil orders that the court can issue without the accused person being arrested. A restraining order may tell the person to whom the order applies not to restrain, molest, sexually assault, or attack the victim, not to go into the family home or the victim’s home, and not to hurt or threaten to hurt any animal owned by the victim. The court may also extend these orders to protect the victim’s minor children. The court will decide how long the restraining order should last, and it may stay in force for up to one year. If the victim thinks that the restraining order should last longer, he or she can apply for more time, and the court can extend the time that a restraining order covers the victim if the court thinks more time is necessary.
 
21. Can a restraining order protect me from domestic violence?

A restraining order can order a person not to:
  • Assault, threaten, abuse, harass, follow, interfere with, or stalk the protected person
  •  Contact the protected  person in any manner, including by written, electronic or telephone contact
  • Contact the protected person’s home or workplace
  • Get closer than 100 yards from the protected person
  • Go into the protected person’s home
  • Hurt or threaten to hurt any animal that the protected person owns
For more information on restraining orders, go to Ctlawhelp.
  
22.   How is Family Services involved on the day of a Temporary Restraining Order Hearing?

Before the matter goes to the judge, the Family Relations Counselor will meet separately with the applicant and respondent to gather information and identify the nature of the issues. The Family Relations Counselor will prepare a written agreement for self-represented parties if a resolution is reached. The Court will be notified that a hearing is necessary if there is no agreement between the parties.
 
23.  How do I apply for a restraining order and what forms will I need to complete?

Restraining Orders: How To Apply for Relief from Abuse is a brochure that outlines the steps that you will need to take to apply for a restraining order.
 
In order to apply for a restraining order, you will need to fill out these forms:
(You can get the forms at any courthouse or at www.jud.ct.gov/webforms/.)

If you have children under 18 and, you are asking the court to order that your children live with you, you will also need to fill out:
  • Affidavit Concerning Children (JD-FM-164). This form tells the judge what children are involved in the case, and where they have lived for the last 5 years.
If you need help to fill out these forms, you can get more information at: https://www.jud.ct.gov/forms/grouped/family/restraining_order.htm or you can visit a Court Service Center.

24. Are there statistics available for orders of protection?

The Judicial Branch maintains statistics on the number of orders of protection issued each year.

     
Other information for victims of domestic violence

25. What resources do family services have available to assist parties in reaching an agreement?

TThe role of Family Services is to assist the Court and clients in the timely and fair resolution of family and interpersonal conflicts through a comprehensive program of dispute resolution services, evaluation and education.

For a complete list of programs, see the Family Services Programs brochure.

26. How can I receive information about an inmate’s status?

The State of Connecticut's Protection Order Registry Notification Program automatically tells protected parties when protective orders end and when there are only five weeks left before restraining orders end.

The Post-Conviction Notification Program can give people who are interested information about changes in the status of convicted inmates. This may include the dates and locations of:
  • Parole hearings
  • Sentence review hearings
  • Sentence modification hearings
  • When an inmate gets out of a correctional institution
  • When an inmate gets out of a correctional institution on parole
  • When an inmate is allowed to go to a halfway house
  • When an inmate gets out of a correctional institution under transitional supervision release
  • Pardons hearings
The Department of Correction (DOC) Victim Services Unit also runs a confidential victim notification program that sends victims a notice when an inmate is released, escapes, or is scheduled for a sentence review or parole hearing. To learn more about the DOC notification program, please contact the DOC Victim Services Unit at 888-869-7057 or visit the Department of Correction website.

Persons who may ask to get this kind of notice include:
  • Crime victims/li>
  • Parents/guardians
  • Relatives of crime victims
  • Legal representatives of crime victims
  • Inmate family members
  • State's attorneys

To register for notification please complete the Confidential Request for Notification of Status of Inmate. All requests are confidential. Every person who registers for notification is responsible for telling OVS about changes to his or her telephone number and/or address. For more information, please call OVS at 800-822-8428, Monday - Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

27. What rights do victims of domestic violence have?

Victims of domestic violence have certain rights defined by Connecticut and federal laws. These rights include the right to:
  • Get notice of any court proceedings
  • Go to any court proceedings, except if the victim is going to testify at the defendant’s trial and the court finds that the victim should not hear the other trial testimony
  • Get compensation or restitution from the defendant
  • Get information about the arrest, conviction, sentence, imprisonment, and release of the defendant
See more information about the rights you might have as a victim of a crime,
 
28. How can I recover financially from the crime?

Crime Victim Compensation
OVS manages the Criminal Injuries Compensation Fund to assist crime victims in recovering from the financial and emotional impact of a crime. This Fund supports the OVS Compensation Program that provides reimbursement and financial assistance for expenses related to the crime, such as medical, dental, counseling, and lost wages. The Compensation Program does not provide financial assistance for any non-economic loss, including property loss, property damage, and pain and suffering. Learn more about crime victim compensation
.

Restitution
Restitution is payment by the offender to the victim to cover some or all of the costs associated with a crime. It is ordered by a judge.  The offender usually pays the Court Support Services Division.  The Court Support Services Division then sends the check to the victim. To request restitution in a criminal court case, contact the State’s Attorney Office or the OVS victim services advocate located in the court where the criminal case will be prosecuted.


29. How do I receive notification about court dates?

Crime victims or individuals interested in a specific criminal case may register to receive notification from the Connecticut Statewide Automated Victim Information and Notification System (CT SAVIN). Registration is free and confidential and you may register in English or Spanish. You may receive notifications in English, Spanish, Portuguese or Polish. Learn more about SAVIN

30. I have questions about divorce and custody. Can I contact a Family Services office for general information?

Yes, you may contact a Family Services Office for help with your questions; however, the office cannot give legal advice. This website contains a list of local Family Services’ Offices.

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