For victims of domestic violence, the experience can be overwhelming. Even if they are not in immediate danger, they may be constantly in fear. They may know that help is available, but not know how to seek it out.
Fortunately, Massachusetts has a strong system for protecting victims of domestic violence. One of the strongest tools available to victims is a restraining order. Also known as an abuse prevention order or a 209A Order, a restraining order is intended to keep an abuser away from a victim.
A restraining order may be filed against a spouse, former spouse, relative, co-parent or romantic partner, or any present or former member of the household of the victim. A victim can request the order in nearly any court in Massachusetts.
The victim must submit a sworn statement that describes their circumstances and demonstrates why the order is necessary. They must describe recent acts of abuse and provide identifying information about the abuser, including such information as work address, telephone number, birth date and Social Security number.
What it does
A restraining order can tell the abuser they must stop the abuse, have no contact with the victim, leave the home or workplace, and surrender their firearms and firearm identification cards. The court can also order temporary custody and support of children to the victim.
Violation of a protection order is a criminal offense. The violator can be arrested and spend time behind bars.
However, it is important to note that a person accused of committing domestic violence has the right to contest the order in a court hearing.
The most important thing anyone can do in a situation of domestic violence is to stop the situation, and stop it quickly. Without intervention, a cycle of domestic abuse can get worse.
With this in mind, people who are victims of domestic violence should seek out help from an attorney and be prepared to act quickly.