Where to get help
A Temporary Protective Order (TPO) is a legal document issued by a court to help victims obtain protection from persons abusing, harassing, or stalking them. A TPO will generally prohibit contact between parties and may remove or restrict someone from a certain place or residence. The following must occur before a judge will consider issuing a TPO:
• A recent act of family violence.
• The victim, or someone acting on behalf of the victim, must complete a petition requesting that a TPO be issued.
• Once the petition is completed, the victim will speak to a judge.
• If the judge finds that the order should be issued, papers will be filed at the clerk’s office. The sheriff’s office will receive a copy of the order so that the defendant can be served with the order.
• If the defendant violates the provisions set forth in the order, he/she can be held in contempt of court and possibly be arrested for a criminal violation. Any violation of the order should be reported to law enforcement and the courts.
Conditions for Application
Under Georgia Law, an application for a TPO can be made without the assistance of an attorney and there are no fees involved. An application for a TPO can be made if an act of family violence has occurred in one of the following situations.
• Past or present spouses
• Parents of the same children
• Parents and children
• Stepparents and stepchildren
• Foster parents and foster children
• Persons living or formerly living in the same household.
Where do I get a TPO issued?
Generally, a TPO is issued through the Superior Court of Rockdale County. If the perpetrator is not a Georgia resident, the order may be issued in the county where the abuse occurred.
How long will the TPO be in effect?
Both the perpetrator and the victim will have to appear before a judge within 30 days of the original order to determine whether or not the TPO should be extended for up to six months.
What if the TPO is violated?
A criminal violation of a protective order pursuant to Georgia Law (O.C.G.A. 19-13-6(b)) may occur only if the order states that the defendant has been evicted or excluded from the residence of the victim. Violations of other orders, generally referred to as "no contact" orders, will be handled through civil contempt actions. However, violations of TPO provisions can possibly lead to other criminal charges.
If you believe a violation of a TPO has occurred, contact law enforcement and the judge’s office to report the violation. If the responding law enforcement agency determines that a criminal violation has occurred, the defendant may be arrested. If no criminal violation has occurred, the judge may place the case or the calendar for both parties to appear at a contempt hearing.
What protection can this TPO give me?
Pursuant to Georgia Law (O.C.G.A. 19-13-4), a TPO can:
• Direct a party to refrain from family violence acts.
• Grant a spouse possession of the residence or household of the parties and exclude the other spouse.
• Require a party to provide suitable alternate housing for a spouse and his/her children.
• Award temporary custody of minor children and establish temporary visitation rights.
• Order the eviction of a party from the residence or household and order assistance to the victim in returning to it, or order assistance in retrieving personal property of the victim if the respondent’s eviction has not been ordered.
• Order either party to make payments for the support of a spouse as required by law.
• Order either party to make payments for the minor children as required by law.
• Provide for possession of personal property of the parties.
• Order a party to refrain from harassing, interfering with, or contacting the other.
• Award costs and attorney’s fees to either party.
• Order either or all parties to receive appropriate psychiatric or psychological services as further measure to prevent the recurrence of family violence.
• Always keep a copy of the order with you. Keep copies of the order at other places you frequent such as school, daycare, relative’s home, work, etc. If you believe a TPO is being violated, report this violation to law enforcement immediately.
• Keep all evidence of violence such as photos, caller ID information, phone records, cards, and letters and document each contact or violation.
• If you are being followed, contacted, or harassed, contact law enforcement immediately.
• Don’t let the defendant violate the order, which means do not contact him/her once the order is in effect. This type of contact may invalidate the order.
IF YOU FEEL YOU ARE IN DANGER CALL 911
Project Renewal offers a variety of assistance, including temporary shelter at a safe place. They can be reached 24/7 at (770) 860-1666, or contact Lt. Paul Dailey with the Covington Police Department at (770) 786-7605.
Audrey Atkinson was the quintessential all-American girl. Blonde and bubbly, she could have been anyone's daughter, granddaughter, sister or best friend. But Audrey had a secret. The 19-year-old was being abused by her boyfriend.
Although she did everything right, the night before she was scheduled to see a judge about making a temporary protection order permanent, she was killed by the father of her child, a man who swore he'd love her forever.
One year later, her mother, Vicky Atkinson, still mourns her only child, a daughter she calls her best friend. Her only consolation is that her daughter's son, 19-month-old Aiden, is there to help her cope with the loss, a small reminder of Audrey with her sunny smile and sweet disposition.
"It's hard to believe it was a year," said Vicky. "It's still too fresh and it hurts. But more than anything else I want for her death to not be in vain. If there is anything we can do as her family to be the voices of domestic violence to help other people, we will."
According to Vicky, her daughter's boyfriend, 22-year-old Anthony Michael Barrow, wanted to know her every move and instructed Audrey to call and check in with him all the time.
"Looking back, we can see the signs, but we didn't know she was being abused," said Vicky. "We just thought they had a bad relationship and that they argued a lot... I just hope and pray that no other parent has to hear the words 'your daughter's been murdered,’" she said. "That is just unreal. It’s the most senseless, selfish crime. There is no way anyone in this world should be abused mentally, emotionally or physically for the self esteem of a coward, and that’s all they are — they are cowards."
Audrey and Anthony met when she was 17 and a senior in high school. He had already graduated and they were introduced by a mutual friend. According to Vicky, he was a smooth talker and very respectful. For about two months.
"After that he was very rude and disrespectful to me and if a guy is disrespectful to your mother you better believe you’re going to get it a whole lot worse then she does," warned Vicky.
"But she thought she loved him," she said. "She just went his way and got pregnant right away. Of course, that made him extremely happy.
"Come to find out that's another thing they do," she said. "They love to get you pregnant because then they own you, they feel like. Thank God for him," she said, kissing Aiden's head. "Because without Aiden I would probably sit down and die myself, but he gives me a reason to live every day."
Although the abuse had been going on for a while, Vicky was unaware of it until the day it escalated. Audrey would come over — often several times a week — and tell her mother that she was done with the relationship. But all it took was a phone call, and she went back. The final straw came on Feb. 27, 2010, when after an argument she told Barrow she was moving out. According to police reports he "pushed her to the ground and then kicked her." At one point Barrow reportedly "made several threats telling her he was going to kill her and made their son kiss one of the bullets… Atkinson said he told her he was going to kill her with the bullet [their son] kissed."
"When she told me about that I said ‘tell me you aren't going back this time,’ and she said ‘no mom, I'm not,’" Vicky recalled.
Audrey took out a temporary protection order against Barrow and filed police reports when he contacted her.
"She was supposed to go to court Monday and he killed her Sunday night," said Vicky, shaking her head sadly.
The first call came in to 911 dispatchers around 10:20 p.m. March 7, 2010, from a young woman complaining of harassing phone calls. Before deputies from the Newton County Sheriff’s Office could reach her, another call came in of a person shot.
When deputies arrived at the Liberty Gas Station off Crowell Road at the intersection of Almon Road roughly 10 minutes later, Audrey was dead; her body riddled with bullets and her killer nowhere to be seen.
It took deputies approximately seven hours to identify Barrow as the one responsible. He had barricaded himself in a home the couple once shared with Aiden. Following a stand-off that lasted more than four hours Covington/Newton County SWAT Team members forced their way into the home just as they heard a shot. Inside they found Barrow suffering from what appeared to be a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head. He was transported to Grady Memorial Hospital where he later died.
"He was such a coward he couldn’t face the consequences of his actions," said Vicky of Barrow. "So he shot himself and killed himself as well. Which I am thankful for cause I won't ever have to see his face again.
"It took a good month for me to stop picking up the phone to call her," said Vicky, tearing up. "It's just a hole in my heart that will never heal. There's not a minute in the day that goes by that I don't think about her and miss her. I miss all the dreams I had for her," she said. "I miss the dream of being able to be the grandma who is able to spoil her grandson. Instead I'm the mommy and the daddy."
Although Audrey isn't there any longer, her memory is alive in Vicky's home. There are pictures of Audrey all around, and Aiden can identify his mommy in them.
"I tell him how much his mommy loves him every day," said Vicky. "I will always tell him what a loving, wonderful woman she was and how she loved him so much... When the day comes that I have to tell him what happened to his mommy — that's going to be the hardest day, I don't know how I'm going to do that... But I tell him how strong she was and how very, very brave she was for taking the steps to get out because she was determined to make a good life for her and Aiden."
Vicky is also determined to make sure that no other young woman has to lose her life the way her daughter did. She cautions them to look for the flags of potential abuse and to run when they see them.
"A relationship for someone that loves you is someone that wants to lift you up, somebody that cares about you and wants nothing but goodness for you. He doesn't want to smother you and he doesn't want all of your time or to rule your life. Watch for those flags, because they are always there," cautioned Vicky.
"I want her story to continue," said Vicky. "She did everything she could right and by the law and she should still be here today enjoying him and loving him. I want people to hear her story and do all they can to help get the person they love out safely. I believe God used Audrey’s death as a way to save other people from domestic violence."
As for Audrey Atkinson, she will never really die. Her memory is alive in her mother and son, in friends and family, and Vicky hopes, in her story.