Mediating Conflict,
Embracing Peace

Sometimes an old flame can’t accept that it’s over

It was fun while it lasted, and perhaps the breakup wasn’t mutual, but for you, the relationship had run its course. For whatever reason, you were ready to move on. Maybe your partner’s intensity was one of the driving factors behind your decision to end it. While you probably wanted to be as kind as possible, you are beginning to think you did not make your message clear.

Does your ex-partner keep texting or calling you? Is he or she waiting for you when you get home from work? Are there other times when your ex shows up uninvited that create an awkward or embarrassing situation for you? If you are still receiving communication from your ex and you want it to stop, you may be experiencing unlawful harassment.

Anti-harassment protection order

Washington laws protect you from unlawful harassment. If your ex is contacting you, intruding on your privacy and interfering with your life, you may be the victim of harassment. You may receive a barrage of text messages or inappropriate pictures or texts throughout the day. Your ex may be watching you or following you. You may receive unwanted gifts or ill-timed visits. For a court to determine if these actions have reached the level of harassment, certain factors must exist, for example:

  • You have not initiated contact with your ex.
  • The behavior of your ex is upsetting or irritating you.
  • The harassment is ongoing and seems to have a purpose known only to your ex.
  • The actions of your ex are making it difficult for you to live a peaceful, normal life.
  • You are feeling considerable stress because of the circumstances in which your ex places you because of the ongoing behavior.
  • You have made it clear to your ex that you no longer want the behavior to continue.

Despite your requests and demands that the contact stop, if your ex persists, you may have no choice but to obtain an anti-harassment order from the district court. This process involves completing a series of forms, filing them with a court clerk and appearing for the scheduled hearing, which is usually about two weeks later. A successful hearing will result in a court order barring your ex from contacting you for up to one year.

While the presence of an attorney is not required for this process, you may have questions about the process itself or about your legal rights. You may also want assistance with the detailed and time-consuming documentation and the often-confusing process for filing your petition. Additionally, it is not unusual for harassment to cross over into violence. With the assistance of an attorney, you will have an advocate who can assist you in obtaining the appropriate protections to ensure your safety.