Requests for restraining orders increase during pandemic

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SAN DIEGO – Requests for restraining orders are up roughly 4% in San Diego since the start of the pandemic and getting a judge to sign off on one can be a challenge for some.

“It can be really difficult for a survivor to be able to thoroughly explain, or to be heard when they say, ‘No, I haven’t physically been hurt, but I’m afraid for my safety,’” said Jacquie Marroquin, an advocate for abuse victims and director of programs with the California Partnership to End Domestic Violence.

Last week, a Cathedral Catholic High School teacher’s fiancé was shot and killed in North Park and her ex-boyfriend was arrested on murder charges. Court records show she tried filing a restraining order against the suspect a year ago, writing I’m “fearful of my safety due to his ongoing attempts to contact me, blocking my movements/attempts to restrain me, attempted break-in at my residence.”

A judge denied the request when both showed up for the court date to give their sides of the story. The judge ruled it a “tie” with the tie-breaker going to the accused.

“Often for survivors, it’s more who is credible in court,” Marroquin said. “That can be helpful and can be really damaging. One of the things we know, is that people who tend to abuse others tend to be socially-charming people and are able to manipulate everyone around them.”

A San Diego Police sergeant was arrested this week on three felony charges for stalking, extortion and false imprisonment. Records show his ex-girlfriend tried getting a restraining order seven months earlier. After they broke up, she claimed he pulled her over with his car to ask why she was leaving him.

She said he later “showed up outside of a private house where I work with autistic children. He blocked me in my car with his demanding I speak to him. He was never given the address and was watching, following me to find my location.”

That restraining order request was also denied, though an exact reason why was not listed in court documents.

Marroquin said most victims who come to court put themselves at a disadvantage right away. Many don’t have attorneys and don’t know they can reach out to advocate groups for free to learn how to file paperwork. Those groups include Center for Community Solutions, Community Resource Center, and YWCA San Diego.

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