No age group is immune to domestic violence. In fact, teens and young girls ages 16-24 at the highest risk age group for experiencing intimate partner violence. Some 1.5 million high school students experience physical dating violence each year.
If you’re under 18 and are experiencing any type of intimate partner violence, including stalking, it is possible to secure an order of protection, or restraining order, to keep an abuser from contacting or coming near you. However, when it comes to filing for one, exact specifications vary by state. While a few states, like California, will allow anyone over the age of 12 to file for an order of protection on their own, in most states, minors will need an adult, typically a parent or guardian, to file for one on their behalf. Go here to find out what the laws are for your state.
If you do not want to get a parent or guardian involved, there are other options. Some states, such as Michigan, allow what is called a “next friend,” or a trusted adult, such as a teacher, counselor or family friend, to file for an order of protection for you.
What about filing an order of protection against another minor? This is also allowed, and the stipulations are similar to those required when filing an order of protection against an adult. You need to reasonably demonstrate abuse has occurred, that you are in fear of abuse, that you were forced into sexual activity or that you’re being harassed. In many states, orders or protection filed against someone under the age of 12 must be filed in Juvenile Court.
What About in Canada?
A 2010 Canadian study showed that between 30 and 50 percent of adolescents reported experiencing some form of dating violence. This included everything from shoving, slapping, punching and unwanted sexual advances to verbal threats, controlling behavior and belittling comments. Another study, out of Ontario, showed that 58 percent of sexual assaults in 2007 involved girls under the age of 18.
Canadian restraining orders are secured in family court and are only valid in the province in which they are issued. They are often used to protect property in a divorce settlement, whereas peace bonds are typically utilized to protect individuals from harassment and abuse. Valid for one year, peace bonds are binding throughout Canada. They literally mean your abuser is ordered to keep the peace. This bond may or may not include stipulations that the person cannot contact you.
Anyone age 12 and over can apply for a peace bond, however, if the defendant is under the age of 18, a Notice to Parent will be served with the peace bond summons, says Chrissy Matheson, media relations advisor for the Nova Scotia Department of Justice. You can find out more about applying for a peace bond here.
Teens: Are you unsure if what you are experiencing is abuse? Learn about an app that can help you detect dangerous relationships or find out more about Identifying Abuse.