Date your abuser for 6 months, win a protection order

Until very recently, being abused in Alabama was your damn problem unless you were married to your abuser, had a kid with your abuser, or the abuser was a former household member, whatever that means. The Curvature reports in a distinctly bemused tone that the law has now improved. Now people who are merely dating their abusers get to enjoy the benefits of a protection order.

Well, so long as they’ve been dating the abuser six months, anyway.

Huh? I am trying to work out the thinking behind this. Is it that a four-month relationship can’t be that serious, therefore an abuser wouldn’t do anything really psycho? No, because we all know stalkers don’t even have to date someone before becoming dangerously obsessed with them. Perhaps they’re thinking it’s easy to dump your abuser at 5.5 months, but it suddenly becomes tougher at 6? Except, you know, it’s never “safe” to leave a volatile abuser, because in their twisted brains, they see it as an affront which they are entitled to answer with any and all force.

Additionally, minors can’t get orders of protection. But before you make Alabama jokes, the Curvature takes a look at some other state laws and finds Alabama’s not so far behind.

I think the real thinking behind this law is: it’s mostly only bad girls who get abused, and they don’t deserve protection, so we have to limit this law so it only protects good girls, and how are good girls defined? Those who take dating relationships very slow, and therefore wouldn’t get “serious” (i.e., starting to consider marriage) until, oh, six months. Yes, I’m framing this heteronormatively because I suspect the people who object to the law did the same. Because I can’t think of one single legitimate concern with extending orders of protection to people who have, say, gone out on two dates with someone and realized the person is dangerous and intent on continuing the relationship matter what. The standard for issuing a protection order should be whether or not there are indications of danger, not how long you were together.

If we don’t leave them immediately, we were asking for it. If we do, we do it alone, without legal support, no matter how crazy they are. Misogyny as usual.


  1. Dom Camus says

    The way you write this makes it sound like the reach of the law has been extended, but one of the quotes in the article two links back along the chain implies otherwise:

    “I think [the law] had gotten so broad it was losing its effectiveness,” Crump said.

    I’m not quite sure how a law being “broad” causes it to become ineffective, but this does suggest that there has also been a reduction in applicability in some cases.

    • says

      Everything I’ve read treats this as the broadening, not the other way around. I was confused by that quote, too, but after additional reading concluded it’s either missing context, or lost something in translation by the press.

  2. Elee says

    I think this is the real real reason for the law, not the bad girls vs. good girls. It is a “get out of the need to enforce a law”-card. If you leave the abuser before six months are up, there is no need to protect you because – no law. If you date the abuser for six months – then you were asking for the abuse and are on a revenge trip, so there is no need to protect you too hard. It is a win-win-situation for the state all around and has the added benefit of good publicity.

    • Elee says

      And the script hates me again, because it ate the quote. Just think the “If we don’t leave them immediately, we were asking for it. If we do, we do it alone” before the (real real? what?) reasoning.

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