Descriptive Transcript of Video: How to Fill out the “Complaint” and “Affidavit” for Relief from Abuse

(Visual: A thin purple line stretches horizontally across the screen.)

Female Narrator: Safety Note: Computer security.

(Visual: From beneath the line, a red shield with a white exclamation point on it appears and sits above it. Beneath the line, text:)

Female Narrator: Safety note: Computer security.

(Visual: A grey, rectangular computer window with a purple bar at the top appears. The red shield moves to the top left side of the window and sits in front of it. Inside the computer window, the web address vtlawhelp.org in a search bar. A cell phone moves into the forefront from behind the computer window, also with the web address vtlawhelp.org in a search bar on its face.)

Female Narrator: Can your abuser access the computer or mobile device you’re using right now? 

(Visual: The search bar on the computer screen folds into a blue recycling bin. The words "Clear Browsing History" appear above it in purple, as though typed. A purple mouse arrow pointer flies in from the right, with motion trails, clicks on the recycling bin and moves to rest in the bottom left of the computer screen.)

Female Narrator: Consider clearing your browsing history after you’re done or using a device they can’t access.

(Visual: The images slide out to the left. The thin purple line stretches horizontally across the screen. A Roman-style courthouse, white, with six columns, and a peaked roof, pops up from the center of the line.)

Female Narrator: To ask the court for a Relief from Abuse order, also called an RFA--

(Visual: Text in purple that reads "Relief from abuse order," appears beneath the purple line. A sealed, manilla envelope pops up to the left of the courthouse. It sports a white, rectangular label with the letters "RFA" on it in red.)

Female Narrator:--you will need to complete four forms and give them to your local family court:

(Visual: The envelope opens and four documents pop up from inside.

Female Narrator: The Complaint form--

(Visual: The word "Complaint" appears in capitals atop the document on the right.)

Female Narrator:--the Affidavit form--

(Visual: The word "Affidavit" appears in capitals atop the document on the left.)

Female Narrator:--the Confidential Notification form--

(Visual: The words "Confidential Notification" appears in capitals atop the document that is second from the left.)

Female Narrator:--and the Protection Order Service Information form.

(Visual: The words "Protection Order Service" appears in capitals atop the document on the remaining form.)

Female Narrator: This video will help you fill out the Complaint and Affidavit forms.

(Visual: The Confidential Notification and Protection Order Service forms drop beneath the line and the Affidavit and Complaint forms meet in the center.)

Female Narrator: You can find all the forms in the RFA Roadmap at vtlawhelp.org--

(Visual: The forms sink beneath the line, and a computer window pops up in their place. Inside the computer window, a purple list of steps appears - Step 1, Step 2, Step 3, Step 4, Step 5, Step 6. A red arrow moves down the list of steps, and highlights each step in a darker shade of purple as it descends. Above the window, the URL vtlawhelp.org appears in purple, as though being typed. The list of steps slide out of the computer screen to the left, replaced by the image of the white, six-columned courthouse, which slides in from right in a white circle and comes to rest on the left side of the computer window.)

Female Narrator:--or you can get paper copies from your local family court--

(Visual: The list of resources appear as bullet points in purple to the right of the courthouse.)

Female Narrator:--victim advocate, or domestic violence program. To find your local family court--

(Visual: The courthouse and text slide off the computer screen to the left, replaced by an oblong search bar that moves in from the right and stops in the center, with text that reads "Find a Court" in the field.)

Female Narrator:--visit vermontjudicary.org--

(Visual: The web address appears at the top of the computer window in purple, as though being typed. A purple mouse arrow pointer flies in from the right, with motion trails, clicks on the search bar and vanishes.)

Female Narrator:--and click on Find a Court.

(Visual: The computer screen sinks beneath the purple line and the courthouse rises up from it. A sign that reads "Closed" hangs cock-eyed from the courthouse's peaked roof and swings until it balances out to hang straight.)

Female Narrator: If the courts are closed--

(Visual: The courthouse shifts to the right, and a white, side-split style building with a blue roof and door, two windows, an attached garage, and a sign that reads "Police" affixed to it pops up to its left.)

Female Narrator:--contact your local police or call the Vermont courts’ answering service.

(Visual: A smartphone rises from behind with the number 1-800-540-9990 typed onto its face. The police building and courthouse sink beneath the line.) 

Female Narrator: Tell them you need help applying for an RFA order.

(Visual: A sealed, manila envelope with "RFA" printed in red on a white label stuck to it rises and sits to the right of the smartphone.

Female Narrator:  You may be able to get a temporary order right away to help keep you safe.

(Visual: Two green, triangular shapes come forward and form a shield with a white checkmark on it and sit to the left of the smartphone. The shield and envelope disappear and the smartphone morphs into the grey rectangular computer window with the purple bar at the top and oblong search bar at its center. A short-haired woman in a teal shirt appears to the left of the screen.)

Female Narrator: You can also ask for help from an advocate in the Vermont Network Against Domestic and Sexual Violence. 

(Visual: The text "Vermont Network Against Domestic and Sexual Violence," is spelled out in purple lettering from the left, beneath the purple line.)

Female Narrator: Visit https://vtnetwork.org--

(Visual: The web address appears in the search bar as though being typed.)

Female Narrator:--or call their hotlines.

(Visual: The search bar moves to the top of the computer window, and the hotline numbers appear beneath it.)

Vermont Domestic Violence Hotline 1-800-228-7395 
Vermont Sexual Violence Hotline 1-800-489-7273

(Visual: The images slide off to the left. The purple line reappears quickly and stretches horizontally across the screen. Above it, text in purple reads, "The Complaint for Relief from Abuse.")

Female Narrator: The Complaint for Relief from Abuse.

(Visual: The text disappears beneath the line. A form rises up and features empty rectangular fields, square boxes for check marks next to horizontal lines of purple that represent text. The top, right corner of the form is dog-eared.

Female Narrator: In the Complaint for Relief from Abuse form, which we will call the Complaint--

(Visual: The word "Complaint" appears in capitals at the top of the form. The form shrinks. A person in a red shirt rises from beneath the purple line on the left of the complaint form, with a hand on their hip.)

Female Narrator:--you are known as the “Plaintiff” and your abuser is called the “Defendant”.

(Visual: A person in an orange T-shirt appears to the right of the complaint form with their arms folded. Four images in white circles appear above the people and the complaint form in an arc. From left to right they are a young person in a pink collared shirt and blue vest next to a young woman in a pink tank-top and yellow headband with a bag over their shoulder; a brown double bed; a purple smartphone with two messaged hearts - one yellow, one red - in text boxes on its face; and a diamond engagement ring with a yellow band, and a golden wedding band linked together.)

Female Narrator: You’ll use this form to explain your relationship to the Defendant and what you’re asking the court for. 

(Visual: The images in the circles are swapped out. From left to right: two disembodied arms, the hand of the right arm tightly grips the wrist of the left; a brown one-story house, with a window on each side of the door; a beagle-like white dog with brown spots and markings sits waist-high to the left of a young person in a yellow shirt, blue pants and a backpack appears, and an open, black laptop that sits to the left of a smartphone. The images are crossed out with red Xs and slide down behind the purple line which disappears and gives way to two complaint forms.)

Female Narrator: There are two versions of the Complaint form. One for when the order is to cover you, or you and your children. 

(Visual: One the left-hand form, beneath the word "Complaint" appears the text, "You, or you and your children.")

Female Narrator: And one for when the order is for your children only.

(Visual: One the right-hand form, beneath the word "Complaint" appears the text, "Your children only." The form disappears behind the one on the left, which moves center and enlarges.)

Female Narrator: On the Complaint form--

(Visual: A purple pen comes forward from behind the form and writes red checkmarks in three square boxes.)

Female Narrator:--there are many checkboxes to help you describe what happened and the kinds of help you’re asking for. Check all the boxes that apply to your situation.

(Visual: The pen moves to the bottom of the document.)

Female Narrator: If you believe there is a danger of further abuse to yourself or your children--

(Visual: New options appear above the signature line and offer check boxes next to options that read, "There is a danger of further abuse to:; Plaintiff and-or child(ren) named above. Two sides of a red shield with a white exclamation point in it appear and bond together below the document, and shift left to reveal text, "Important information.")

Female Narrator:--make sure you check that box on both the Complaint and Affidavit forms. 

(Visual: The purple pen marks checks in each of the three new boxes.

Female Narrator: If that box is not checked, the court may decide you are not eligible for an RFA order. 

(Visual: The images move up until gone, replaced by a new form that rises up from the bottom, headed with the text, "Request for Relief" and subhead that reads, "The Plaintiff requests that the court:" Beneath are several empty check boxes that sit to the left of horizontal, purple lines that represent text. The top right corner of the form is dog-eared.)

Female Narrator: In the “Requests for Relief” section, be sure to check the box asking for emergency relief.

(Visual: At the bottom of the document, the purple pen checks the box to the left of the phrase, "The Plaintiff requests on an emergency basis the same relief as requested above, to the extent available." The red shield is present at the very bottom of the document, to the right of purple text that reads, "Important information.")

Female Narrator: Otherwise, the court may not give you a temporary order while you wait for the final hearing. 

(Visual: The images slide off to the left. The purple line reappears quickly and stretches horizontally across the screen. Above it, text in purple reads, "The Affidavit.")

Female Narrator: The Affidavit.

(Visual: The purple line and text slide off to the left, and two forms sweep in from the right. The top form is headed by the word "Affidavit" in capital letters. Beneath it, several empty check boxes, empty fields, and horizontal purple lines that represent text.)

Female Narrator: You’ll use the Affidavit form to tell the court what happened and why you need help. 

(Visual: The second form moves out from behind the top form, which shifts to the left.

Female Narrator: There are two versions of the Affidavit form: one for when the order is to cover you, or you and your children--

(Visual: Beneath the header on the left-hand form, the words: "You, or you and your children".)

Female Narrator:--and one for when the order is for your children only.

(Visual: Beneath the header on the right-hand form, the words: "Your children only". The right-hand form slides back in behind the left form, which moves back to center.)

Female Narrator: There are two very important sections on the Affidavit form. First, you need to list and describe the most recent incident of abuse--

(Visual: Mid-way down the form, an empty four-line field. Above the box appears the words "The most recent incident.")

Female Narrator:--as well as other past incidents. 

(Visual: Beneath the empty, four-line field is a second, identical box. Above it appears the words "Other past incidents." A open notebook, similar to a legal pad, drapes over the Affidavit forms, headed by the text, "Dates and Details.")

Female Narrator: Do your best to give dates and details about the following:

(Visual: A bullet point in purple beneath the heading reads: "Did your abuser injure you?")

Female Narrator: Did your abuser injure you? If they did, how? It’s okay if you never went to the doctor, but if you did go, you should say so on the form. 

(Visual: The subsequent points appear verbatim as bullet points beneath the first as they are read and form a vertical list.)

Female Narrator: Did your abuser threaten or scare you or your children? 
Did they keep you from leaving a room?
Did they use a weapon to hurt or threaten you?
Did they hurt your pets or damage your property?
Were the police called?
Has your abuser stalked or followed you?
Did your children witness the abuse? 
And has it changed your children’s behavior in any way?

(Visual: The list moves off to the right and the lower half of the Affidavit centers. Beneath the two, empty, four-line boxes is an empty, eight-line box.)

Female Narrator: Next, the form asks you to describe the most serious incident of abuse, 

(Visual: Above the boxes, the words "The most serious incident that caused me to ask for an order" appear in purple.)

Female Narrator: Whether it happened a long time ago or more recently. 

(Visual: The purple pen pops out from behind the form.)

Female Narrator: Be sure to give as much detail to this incident as you did the others. 

(Visual: The first Affidavit form moves vertically away, as a second one with a different configuration of boxes and lines rises into view. There are two eight-line, empty fields near the bottom of the form next to one another.

Female Narrator: The form also asks if your abuser has guns or other weapons. 

(Visual: Above the left-hand box, the words “Defendant's access to firearms" appear. The pen moves closer to the box but stops just right of the center of the form.)

Female Narrator: List them and their locations as best you can. Weapons create a dangerous situation during the RFA process. If you list them on the affidavit, the court can order law enforcement to collect them to help keep you safe.

(Visual: The Affidavit moves off to the left. The thin purple line stretches horizontally across the screen. From beneath it, the person in the red shirt pops up holding a document.)

Female Narrator: Once you complete the Affidavit form, you need to sign it in front of a notary. 

(Visual: The person shifts to the left and a second person rises from the purple line on the right side. They wear a short-sleeved, green collared shirt under a blue vest, and stands in an office setting, in front of a desk that holds a plant and a wall-mounted bulletin board.

Female Narrator: For example, the clerk at the courthouse is a notary. 

(Visual: The person in the red shirt writes on the form.)

Female Narrator: There are exceptions, such as at night, on a holiday or a weekend, or if you can't get to a courthouse.

(Visual: The person in the vest and their office setting disappear beneath the purple line. The person in the orange T-shirt pops up in their place and holds a second document.)

Female Narrator: Be aware that the Defendant will get a copy of the Complaint and Affidavit if the case goes to a hearing or the judge gives you a temporary order. 

(Visual: The person in the orange T-shirt sinks beneath the line. A manilla envelope appears in their place.)

Female Narrator: After you fill out all four forms--

(Visual: A second envelope pops out from behind the first, marked by a white label that reads "Copy" in red lettering.)

Female Narrator:--make copies to keep for yourself, if you think it’s safe. 

(Visual: The second envelope disappears and the white, six-columned courthouse rises from beneath the purple line to the right of the person in the red shirt. The first envelope slides between the courthouse's middle two column and disappears.)

Then, drop off the completed forms at your county’s family court or file them online.

(Visual: An oblong search bar appears above the person and the courthouse. The website for vermontjudiciary.org appears in the field. The images slide off to the left. The purple line reappears quickly and stretches horizontally across the screen. The red shield with the exclamation point pops up from beneath it. Beneath the line, purple text appears and reads "Safety note.")

Female Narrator: Safety note.

(Visual: The person in the red shirt appears and faces the person in the teal top on their right.)

Female Narrator: Talk to your local domestic violence agency about how to stay safe while you wait for the court to decide. 

(Visual: A white circle with a handgun in it appears between them.)

Female Narrator: Does your abuser own guns? 

(Visual: The image in the circle is replaced by two disembodied arms; the hand from one on the right tightly gripping the unseen person on the left's wrist.)

Female Narrator: Will they do something dangerous when they find out you’ve gone to court for help? 

(Visual: Text appears beneath the purple line and reads, "Visit the Vermont Network Against Domestic and Sexual Violence.")

Female Narrator: Visit the Vermont Network Against Domestic and Sexual Violence website--

(Visual: The oblong search bar rises from the purple line above the people and the URL vtnetwork.org appears inside it as though typed.)

Female Narrator:--at vtnetwork.org to find an advocate who can offer help and support.

(Visual: The images of the people fold down into the purple line, and the computer window with the list of 6 steps, headed with the vtlawhelp.org URL, pops quickly back up in its place.)

Female Narrator: You can find more videos and details on our RFA Roadmap. 

(Visual: The computer screen moves off to the left. A new purple line stretches horizontally from the right and rests at the center.)

Female Narrator: If you have more questions--

(Visual: The logo for Legal Services Vermont and text "Working Together for Justice" appear atop the line and its contact info below it.)

Female Narrator:--contact Legal Services Vermont.

TEXT: Legal Services Vermont
Working together for justice
1-800-889-2047
vtlawhelp.org

Music ends.

End of transcript.

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Updated: Aug 26, 2021