What’s up with restraining orders? How can she keep calling and texting me?

Why can someone get a restraining order but still see the person she put in on and have videos, texts, and calls? Can they get in trouble or arrested for being around the person she put the restraining order on?

There is clearly a need for restraining order (also known as “protective order”) statutes. There are vulnerable people out there who would be victimized by crazy and/or evil people without the protection of the law.

But some jurisdictions take “better safe than sorry” to ridiculous, unfair lengths.

In Utah, where I practice law, the law is, inexplicably and inconsistently, that one can obtain a protective order (“protective order” is the term we use in Utah) yet not be restrained from initiating all kinds of contact and/or communication with the person against whom he/she obtained the protective order.

By way of example: “She” (yes, yes, men can apply for protective orders, but 1) women are the overwhelming number of protective applicants, whether they are genuine victims or maliciously wielding the protective order statute as a weapon; and 2) men are both discouraged from applying for protective orders, and when they do, they are, in a stunning display of sexism, frequently not believed, so we’ll refer to the applicant as a woman for the purposes of this discussion) can apply for an obtain a protective order against “Him” that contains prohibitions like these:

  • prohibit Him from harassing, telephoning, contacting, or otherwise communicating with Her, directly or indirectly;
  • order that He is excluded from Her residence and its premises, and order Him to stay away from Her residence, school, or place of employment , or any specified place frequented by Her and any designated family or household member of Hers.

Yet there is nothing in Utah law to prevent Her, after obtaining the protective order against Him, from:

  • telephoning, contacting, or otherwise communicating with Him, directly or indirectly;
  • from coming to His residence, school, or place of employment , or any specified place frequented by Him and any designated family or household member of His.

Under these circumstances, the problem that thus can arise (and all too often does arise) is that She will call or text or visit Him suggesting they talk or meet to “make up”. The poor guy thinks, “Great, She wants to put this behind us. So do I. Of course I’ll talk and/or meet with her. After all, it’s her idea, so if she wants to talk and/or meet (or have sex, etc.) with me, I can’t be blamed for accepting the invitation, right?”


It happens all the time in Utah: if She invites him to come over and talk (or have sex, etc.), so He cheerfully obliges, only to have his actions constitute a “violation” of the prohibitions against “contacting, or otherwise communicating with Her, even though it was her idea, her invitation, her enticements.

For years there have been efforts to include in Utah’s protective order statutes a provision that would make situations like this a defense to charges of violating a protective order, but they get shot down with the argument that such provisions would “expose the victim to unnecessary risk” or (my favorite) “have a chilling effect on applying for protective orders”. It’s  nonsense, but that’s the reason why.

Things are slowly getting better. One recent change to the protective order law now protects Him from being barred from his job, school, or church if She works at the same place or works at the same place or worships at the same place He does.

Eventually I believe Utah’s law will be amended to include the defense of “I was enticed” and will also punish Her if she entices Him for the purpose of setting him up (framing him) for a “violation” of the protective order.

Utah Family Law, LC | | 801-466-9277

Utah Family Law, LC | | 801-466-9277

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