Reading about Utah's new law regarding protective orders for date relationships and remember a number of horror stories I'd heard in the past got me thinking about this again.
Protective or Restraining orders on the surface seem like a good idea but the facts of how they get used leads me to conclude they need to be completely reworked.
First - Read This
Then - Read This
And the think about how completely this is setup to discriminate against men. It should be no more difficult for a man to get one against a woman than the other way around.
There is considerable disagreement about how effective they are. I suspect, but have no evidence, that it would depend a great deal on how necessary the restraining order was. If it were specious then I expect it would be very effective as the restrained person was never really a threat in anyway to begin with. In cases where they are really needed, I'm going to guess they are significantly less effective, as someone who is already breaking laws when angered is not likely to consider a restraining order at all when angered/drunk or what ever.
Where there is little disagreement is how often they are abused - the answer is A LOT.
I do think something like the protective order (or restraining order) is needed. I also think it needs to be significantly harder to get. Some proof should be required, and the defendant or their attorney should be present to present the other side of the argument - Gee just like real Due Process.
Unless the defendant is found to be a credible threat for violence the actions covered should be restricted to communication, and harassing presence (i.e. No contact - may not be closer than 500 yards or what ever). I also think this should apply to BOTH individuals - if He can't call her than She shouldn't be able to call Him. To subject a person who has never been violent to confiscation of firearms is in my opinion a violation of rights.
I don't even know what the penalties for breaking a protective order are, but they should be HARSH. Once both sides have had a chance to present their arguments and the court decides a protective order is needed, then penalties for violation should be significant and immediate; otherwise, what's the point? It's a little bit like posting GUN FREE ZONE - no one who's going to break laws is really going to give a crap.
There's little doubt that these instruments were developed to help abused women and children but that doesn't mean men are the only abusers in relationships. Nor should it be so easy for a ex girlfriend to ruin a mans life just because she no longer likes him.