Ƶ

STATE

Got a stalker? New online tool tells you how to get a protection order in Ohio

Victims of stalking or sexual violence in Ohio now have a new tool to walk them through how to get a civil protection order from the courts

Columbus Dispatch
Ohio Legal Help collaborated with the Ohio Supreme Court and others to develop a free online tool to help victims obtain civil protection orders from the courts against stalkers or others.

Victims of stalking or sexual violence in Ohio now have a new tool to walk them through how to get a civil protection order from the courts.

Ohio Legal Help developed the to give step-by-step instructions, explain the types of civil protective orders, answer questions about paperwork and provide advice.

The tool is free, available 24/7 and has a large safety button on screen to quickly close the screen if the person feels threatened. The tool generates some of the basic forms that can later be turned into the local court. It includes a self-guided interview to help people fill out the forms and gather evidence.

The tool is available at

A report from found that between 2016 and 2022:

  • stalking increased 32%.
  • women made up 81% of the victims.
  • intimate partners were involved in 27% of the incidents and friends or acquaintances were involved in 24%.
  • Research nationally shows that, such as repeated, unwanted phone calls, text messages, and emails.

What is a protection order?

Judges issue protection orders to tell an abuser to stop certain actions, such as making threats, showing up at the victim's home or workplace or contacting the victim.

The order can be in place for up to five years. There is no cost and a lawyer isn't required.

Who can get a protection order?

Anyone who is the victim or stalking or a sexually oriented offense can request an order. Criminal charges aren't required. And there doesn't have to be a specific relationship between the victim and offender.

Other people who have been harmed, stalked or abused can also be covered in the order.

Even with a civil order in place, there are still risks. Ohio Legal Help recommends making safety plans and weighing the pros and cons of getting an order.

Types of protection orders

A civil protection order could be obtained when there is a pattern of conduct by the stalker that makes you believe you'll be physically harmed or causes you mental distress.

The conduct could include repeatedly driving past your home, harassing phone calls or texts, monitoring your phone or social media use, tracking you with GPS or making threats.

A sexually oriented offense protective order helps protect victims of rape, sexual battery, gross sexual imposition, child enticement and other sexually oriented offenses.

The Ohio Supreme Court provided funding to develop the tool.

In 2021, developed another tool – for domestic and dating violence civil protection orders – that is used by more than 50,000 Ohioans annually.

Laura Bischoff is a reporter for the USA TODAY Network Ohio Bureau, which serves the Columbus Dispatch, Cincinnati Enquirer, Akron Beacon Journal and 18 other affiliated news organizations across Ohio.