What is a sexual abuse protective order?
Similar to a restraining order to prevent abuse, a sexual abuse protective order ("SAPO") is a civil court order that can protect you if you are the victim of sexual abuse (including sexual assault, rape, sodomy) and you fear for your safety. Unlike a restraining order to prevent abuse, to qualify for a sexual assault protective order you cannot have a family or household relationship with the abuser.* Note: If you are the victim of sexual abuse or sexual assault and are in a family or household relationship with the abuser, you may qualify for a restraining order to prevent abuse.
* ORS § 163.763(1)
What is the legal definition of sexual abuse?
For the purpose of getting a sexual abuse protective order, sexual abuse is defined as any “sexual contact” with a person:
- who does not consent to it; or
- who is incapable (unable) to consent to the sexual contact because the victim is:
- under 18 years of age;
- “mentally defective,” which the law defines as suffering from a qualifying mental disorder that makes the victim unable to evaluate his/her own conduct;
- mentally incapacitated, which the law defines as being unable to evaluate or control his/her own conduct; or
- physically helpless, which the law defines as being unconscious or unable (for any other reason) to communicate his/her unwillingness to the sexual act.*
Sexual contact is when anyone touches your sexual or intimate parts or causes you to touch the sexual or other intimate parts of another person for the purpose of arousing or satisfying the sexual desire of either person.** In addition to "touching" one's sexual or intimate parts, it would also include sexual assault, rape, sodomy, and forced oral sex.
Note: There could be some defenses to an accusation of sexual abuse related to the difference in age between the victim and due to other circumstances.*** You can read about these defenses here and here on our OR Statutes page.
* ORS §§ 163.760(2); 163.315; 163.305(2),(3),(5)
** ORS §§ 163.760(3); 163.305(6)
*** ORS §163.760(2)(b)
What types of sexual abuse protective orders are there? How long do they last?
There are two types of sexual abuse protective orders, described below.
Ex parte order
When you file a petition for a sexual abuse protective order in circuit court, the judge can hold an ex parte hearing in person or by telephone. Ex parte means that the abuser does not need to have prior notice of (or be present at) the hearing. If the judge finds that it is reasonable for a person in your situation to fear for your physical safety and that the sexual abuse occurred within the previous 180 days, the judge can issue a restraining order.*
When determining whether or not 180 days has passed since the sexual abuse occurred, the judge should not consider any time the abuser was in jail, any time that the abuser lived more than 100 miles away from your residence, and any time that the abuser was not allowed to contact you because of a different restraining order.*1
The abuser has 30 days to request a hearing after s/he is served with the ex parte order. If the abuser requests a hearing, the court staff will notify you of the date and time of the hearing and give you a copy of the abuser’s request.*2 The hearing will be scheduled within 21 days of the abuser’s request. You may have to explain the incidents of sexual abuse to the judge, and the abuser will also have an opportunity to give the judge his/her testimony and evidence. At that hearing, the judge could change or dismiss the restraining order.*3 If the abuser fails to request a hearing at the end of the 30 days, the terms in your ex parte order remain in effect for one year.*4
* ORS § 163.765(1)
*1 ORS § 163.763(3),(1)(c)
*2 ORS § 163.765(6)(a),(b)
*3 ORS § 163.767(1)
*4 ORS § 163.765(7),(8)
Where can I file for a sexual abuse protective order?
You can file for a sexual abuse protective order in the circuit court in the county where either you or the abuser lives.*
* ORS § 163.763(2)(a)
How can a sexual abuse protective order help me?
If the judge finds that you are the victim of sexual abuse and that you fear for your physical safety, the order will state that the abuser must:
- not contact you; and
- not do (or attempt to do) any of the following: intimidate, molest, interfere with or menace (physically threaten) you.
At your request, the judge can also order:
- that the abuser not contact your children, family members, or household members;
- that the abuser not enter or attempt to enter your residence or come within an area around your residence;
- that the abuser not intimidate, molest, interfere with, or menace your children and family or household members (or attempt to); and/or
- anything else necessary for your safety and the safety or your children and family or household members.*
* ORS § 163.765(1)(a),(b)