Domestic violence victims may file for EPOs directly through Lexington shelter

Posted at 11:00 PM, Jan 16, 2023
and last updated 2023-01-17 11:26:27-05

LEXINGTON, Ky. (LEX 18) — People who need to file for protective orders in Lexington have a new option. Instead of going to the courthouse, people receiving services through a domestic violence shelter in Lexington can file the paperwork directly with their advocates.

After Lexington saw a rise in domestic violence homicides in 2022, advocates and the Fayette Circuit Court Clerk came up with an idea.

"We had five of our advocates be sworn in last week as special deputies and they can actually take protective order petitions," said Diane Fleet, associate director of domestic violence shelter GreenHouse 17.

Fleet said there can be several barriers for people who need to file emergency protective orders.

"Lots of our folks that are with us at GreenHouse 17 don't have cars and transportation. If you are a single parent and you have multiple children, that in itself can be different trying to figure that out. We always try to assist, whether that's calling an Uber or having an advocate take them, or sometimes the sheriff's office will assist us. It's just another step," she said.

Now, for people who've already developed a relationship with the shelter, they can do it all with someone they're already comfortable with.

"I think there will be more protective orders that are filed and I think it will expedite people filing them. We know that with domestic violence, when the person leaves is the most dangerous time, so if we can get that protective order filed quickly because a relationship is established — we're not waiting a week or two — I think that's really important," Fleet said. "I think some people that would not have filed because it just seems too overwhelming, 'I'm too exhausted, too tired, I don't know how to manage this, but I can just do it with you right now while I'm sitting here.'"

People who aren't GreenHouse 17 clients can go to the Fayette County Circuit Court to file those petitions.