What is Domestic Violence?
Domestic violence is a pattern of control used by one person to exert power over another. Verbal abuse, threats, physical, and sexual abuse are the methods used to maintain power and control. Domestic violence may occur in a particular pattern or may be random acts. It may happen frequently or may be a rare occurrence. Domestic violence crosses all social, economic, racial, cultural and religious boundaries. Experience indicates that incidents of violence tend to increase over time, as does the severity of the attacks.
Violent physical acts are criminal and the batterer can be prosecuted for committing them. Emotional abuse and insults are almost always part of the abuse pattern, but may not be criminal acts. It can be more difficult to recover from the emotional abuse; it whittles away at one’s self esteem and sense of confidence.
Domestic violence is not caused or provoked by the action or inaction of the victim. Domestic violence is not directly caused by alcohol or drug abuse, depression, lack of money, lack of a job, mental illness or abuse as a child. However, existing problems often create additional stress in a relationship and may increase the risk of violence. Abusers blame the victim for their violent acts and do not take responsibility for their abusive behavior.
There is never an excuse for violence.
What is a 209A?
An Abuse Prevention Order, called a “209A” or a “Restraining Order”, is a civil court action that provides immediate protection from abuse. You may obtain an order of protection if you are:
- a spouse or former spouse.
- a present or former household member , including roommates and same sex partners.
- a relative by blood or marriage.
- the parent of your minor child.
- a person with whom you have had a substantial dating relationship.
Under Chapter 209A of Massachusetts General Laws, you may obtain an order of protection from a judge if you are being abused by a family or household member.
What may I request on a 209A?
On a 209A order, you may request:
- The abuser to refrain from abusing you.
- The abuser to refrain from contacting you, or any child/ren in your custody, unless authorized by the Court.
- The abuser to leave and remain away from your residence, and your workplace.
- That your address be impounded.
- The abuser to pay child support, if the abuser has the legal obligation to do so.
- Temporary custody of your minor child/ren.
- Compensation for losses suffered due to the abuse.
Where can I obtain a 209A?
- You may apply for an order from the District or Probate and Family Court and Superior Court in your towns jurisdiction.
- You may request an emergency 209A through your local police department after court hours and on weekends.
- You do not need an attorney to file a 209A.
- A SAFEPLAN advocate from the Massachusetts Office of Victim Assistance (MOVA) will be available to assist in filing the paperwork and answer any questions. The advocate will discuss your options regarding what services are available to you, and can assist you in developing a personalized safety plan.
- The abuser does not have to have criminal charges for you to obtain a 209A.