I’m not only writing about this due to my own experience with one of these orders but because I have noticed a huge increase in the number of restraining orders being routinely handed out in many types of anti-social cases. I’m not going to mention specifics because I’m focusing on wider implications rather than any particular case.
We are constantly brought up to be inclusive of all types of people regardless of their background and so on, but when we have a “conflict situation” with another person, regardless of the circumstances, the courts practice the opposite of this much-lauded co-existence and fall back on the usual ways of presuming that the “normal” person (i.e. white, educated, heterosexual, neurotypical, “good breeding”) is the victim and/or innocent and that a person who falls into a minority group is a wrongdoer.
I do not see how this is a productive measure. The only time these restraining orders should be used is where there is a proven danger of violence or abuse toward the proven victim of the case.
I hold my hands up to breaking the one that was imposed on me because I was hell-bent on elaborating why it was fundamentally unfair and unreasonable. Their response was simply to make the order of indefinite duration: that means I won’t ever be free of it. I should have waited for the time limit to run out but I didn’t.
On principle, I see these orders as a long term or lifetime punishment depending on the length. I was never a danger, merely a misunderstood autistic person who like many autistic people would dig their heels in firmly if they saw a situation as being unfair. I feel that the order applying indefinitely is a major stain on my character and one that fundamentally misrepresents me. I can never get it off until the person purporting to be the victim of the case decides that is what they want, and even then it would remain on my current record for 10 years after a discharge date. I will have it on my record for life if it never gets discharged.
This practice of courts, especially magistrate-level, routinely making restraining orders within cases has to stop because we are becoming an increasingly divided society. That breeds hate and contempt between people. Those of us on the outside are always the ones that end up as targets of those negative feelings or attitudes.
We need to learn to work together to sort out issues. The courts have to set that example. The magistrates court is heaving with cases on a daily basis. Half of those cases could be dealt with out of court if they stopped making extra work for themselves with these orders. They certainly aren’t a de-escalation technique. If anything they cause the opposite effect.
I’m not naïve enough to believe that we will be a society of togetherness but at least make attempts to tackle the division between different people. The effect on people’s mental health is also detrimental. I think about that order and other things surrounding the whole situation; it makes it difficult to ever have a peaceful settled mind.