Ask any petitioner in Rappahannock County with a protective order against a perpetrator and they will tell you how tough it is to carry around the paperwork.
“We ask people to carry their protective orders with them wherever they go but it’s a three-page letter-sized document, which is difficult,” says Rappahannock Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court Judge Melissa Cupp. “I would prefer for them to carry the paper so they have it, but the reality is that’s very difficult to do. But this is something you put into your wallet and carry with you and you always have it.”
Referring to the durable, wallet-sized, easy-to-read Hope Card, first introduced in Pulaski County and designed for the convenience of petitioners by listing the major pertinent provisions of existing family abuse protective orders.
“So if the [holder] is in Walmart and the [perpetrator] comes they can call 911 and when the sheriff’s office gets there they can hand them the card,” explains Judge Cupp. “People say [a protective order] is just a piece of paper, it’s not going to protect you. And obviously a little card is not going to protect you either, but there’s something about it having the official seal on it that I think will help empower people that have protective orders.”
And “yes,” confirms Cupp, Rappahannock unfortunately has its share of protective orders, so the laminated Hope Cards can be very beneficial to county residents.
Essential information on the card will quickly provide law enforcement officers with the name of the person being ordered to “stay away,” their Social Security number and date of birth, whether a weapon was involved in any prior incidents, gender, weight, height, race, eye color, hair color, and distinguishing features such as tattoos.
To obtain a Hope Card, one has to have a valid, long-term order of protection issued in Rappahannock County for domestic violence, stalking and/or sexual assault. No fee is charged, and applications can be obtained and filled out at the Rappahannock County Courthouse.
The point of contact is Donna Foster, deputy clerk of the Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court.
While one card will be issued per protected individual, additional card requests can be approved on a case by case basis. For example, one might be provided to an additional family member, or to a child’s school or after-school care program.
Hope Cards are not issued for temporary protection orders, for 14-day protection orders, or for “no contact” orders in criminal cases.