If you or someone you know has been the
victim of a sexual assault please call this special telephone exchange
number 781-934-1145. An officer will answer 24 hours a day and you can
What Is Domestic
violence is control by one partner over another in a dating, marital or
relationship. The means of control include physical, sexual, emotional and
threats and isolation. Survivors
face many obstacles in trying to end the abuse in their lives although
most are able to,
psychological and economic entrapment, physical isolation and lack of
religious and cultural values, fear of social judgment, threats and
custody or separation, immigration status or disabilities and lack of
alternatives. Increased public, legal and healthcare awareness and
improved community resources
enable survivors to rebuild their lives.
Who Is Affected by
violence occurs in every culture, country and age group. It affects people from all
socioeconomic, educational and religious backgrounds and takes place in same sex
as well as heterosexual relationships. Women with fewer resources or greater
perceived vulnerability—girls and those experiencing physical or
disabilities or living below the poverty line—are at even greater risk for
and lifetime abuse. Children are also affected by domestic violence, even
if they do
not witness it directly.
How Do You Know if You
Are Being Abused?
use many ways to isolate, intimidate and control their partners. It starts
insidiously and may be difficult to recognize. Early on, your partner may
generous and protective in ways that later turn out to be frightening and
controlling. Initially the abuse is isolated incidents for which your
partner expresses remorse
and promises never to do again or rationalizes as being due to stress or
caused by something
you did or didn’t do.
Early Signs of Abuse:
Quick whirlwind romance.
Wanting to be with you all the time; tracking what you’re
doing and who you’re with.
Jealousy at any perceived attention to or from others.
Attempts to isolate you in the guise of loving behavior
(You don’t need to work or go to school; we only need each other,
criticizing friends/family for not caring about you).
Hypersensitivity to perceived slights.
Quick to blame others for the abuse.
Pressures you into doing things you aren’t comfortable with
(If you really love me, you’ll do this for me).
Questions to Ask
Are you ever afraid of your partner?
Has your partner ever actually hurt or threatened to hurt you physically or someone
you care about?
Does your partner ever force you to engage in sexual activities that
make you uncomfortable?
Do you constantly worry about your partner's moods and change
your behavior to deal
Does your partner try to control where you go, what you do and
who you see?
Does your partner constantly accuse you of having affairs?
Have you stopped seeing family or friends to avoid your partner’s jealousy or anger?
Does your partner control your finances?
Does he/she threaten to kill him/herself if you leave?
Does your partner claim his/her temper is out of control due to alcohol, drugs or
because he/she had an abusive childhood?
If you answer yes
to some or all of these questions, you could be suffering abuse.
you are not to blame and you need not face domestic violence alone.
What You Can Do if You
Are Being Abused:
cannot stop your partner’s abuse—only he or she can do that—you can find help
and support for yourself.
Call the police if you are in danger.
Talk with someone you trust: a friend or relative, a neighbor,
coworker or religious
or spiritual advisor.
Tell your physician, nurse, psychiatrist or therapist about the abuse.
Call the National Domestic Violence Hotline [1-800-799-SAFE
(7233)], your state domestic violence coalition, and/or a local domestic
Remember, you know your situation better than anyone else. Don’t
let someone talk you into doing something that isn’t right for you.
What Is A 209A Order?
An Abuse Prevention Order, called a "209A Order," or a "protective order,"
or "restraining order," is a civil court order intended to provide
protection from physical or sexual harm caused by force or threat of harm
from a family or household member. You can obtain an order against, a
spouse or former spouse, a present or former household member, a relative
by blood or a present or former relative by marriage, the parent of your
minor child, and person with whom you have or had a substantial dating
Where Can I Get A 209A Order?
A 209A Order can be obtained in any District Court, Superior Court, or
Probate and Family Court in Massachusetts. An emergency 209A Order can be
obtained through any police department after court hours, on weekends and
holidays. You do not need a lawyer to file for a 209A Order4 and there is
no charge for filing.
How Can I Get An Order In District Court?
Should you decide to go to a District Court for a 209A Order, you may go
to the District Court in the area where you live or, if you have fled to
another area to avoid abuse, you may go to the District Court in the area
where you now live (see list of resources, p.14). Go to the Clerk’s Office
in the court and ask for a "protective order" or a "209A Order," You will
receive a packet of forms to complete as an application for a protective
order. In some courts, there may be a Court Advocate from a local battered
women’s service agency to help you with the form. A Victim/Witness
Advocate from the District Attorney’s Office is also usually available for
assistance and to discuss the option of filing criminal charges against
your abuser. Ask someone at the Clerk’s Office to direct you to the
District Attorney’s Victim/ Witness Office for help. You do not have to
file criminal charges in order to obtain a 209A Order. However, criminal
charges can be helpful in holding a batterer responsible for criminal acts
committed against you. If there is a criminal violation, the Court can
also require a batterer to obtain counseling or other treatment.
What Questions Are Asked On The Form?
On the application or complaint forms for a 209A order, you need to make a
sworn statement (affidavit) describing the facts of any recent or past
incidents of abuse. It is important to provide as much information about
the abuser as possible. You must also disclose any other existing 209A
Orders from any court or any Probate Court action you are involved in,
including any divorce or child custody proceedings.
What Relief Can I Ask For On The Application?
You may request the judge to order that the abuser, stop or refrain from
abusing you, have no contact with you or a child in your custody, and/or
vacate or move out of the house or apartment where you live.
You may also request the judge to order that you receive support and
temporary custody of your children, if the abuser has a legal duty to
support or shares custody. You may request payment for medical costs
incurred due to injuries caused by the abuser and related loss of wages.
You may ask that the abuser not contact you at work or at a relative’s
home, and that your new address be kept confidential from the abuser for
What About Child Custody And Visitation?
A 209A Order from a District Court can provide you with temporary support
and custody of your minor children. Only the Probate and Family Court,
however, can decide child visitation rights. A 209A Order from that court
may be more helpful in dealing with abuse protection that also involves
divorce, long term financial support, and child custody and visitation
issues. You may want to speak with a private attorney for Probate Court or
call one of the legal services or victim’s services listed on this
brochure for an attorney referral list. Pro bono (free) or reduced fee
legal services may be available.
What Happens Next?
After you have completed the 209A complaint or application forms, return
them to the Clerk’s Office and ask when the judge will hear the
applications for protective orders. The Clerk’s Office will tell you the
time and courtroom location for your hearing.
At your hearing, the judge will ask why you need a protective order and
will review your complaint or application forms and affidavit. The judge
will be deciding whether it appears there is a substantial likelihood of
immediate danger of abuse. He or she will probably ask you some clarifying
questions. In some court’s, a "209A Briefing Session " is held before the
hearing and a Court Advocate or a District Attorney’s Victim / Witness
Advocate will explain the hearing process and be with you in the
What Will The Judge Do After Speaking With You?
The judge may grant or deny the 209A Order after speaking with you. If the
judge grants the Order, you will receive a Temporary Order for up to ten
days. A court date will be scheduled within 10 court days for you to
return to court for a Permanent Order, which lasts for a year and can be
renewed. Keep your copy of the Order with you at all times. The judge will
also order the abuser to surrender all guns and gun permits he or she
The police will deliver (serve) a copy of the Order to your abuser and
will keep a copy on file at the police station. It is important to provide
the abuser’s home, work, or other likely addresses so that the police can
serve the Order as quickly as possible and provide the required notice of
the next court date.
A violation of certain terms of a 209A Order (orders to vacate the
premises, refrain from abuse and have no contact with you) requires that
the police arrest your abuser.
A violation of a 209A Order, once the abuser has notice of the Order, is a
What Is A Ten Day Hearing?
The Ten Day Hearing requires that you return to the court on the date
given on the Order. If you do not return to court, the Order will not be
in effect after that date. The hearing offers the chance for both parties,
you and the abuser, to come before the judge and offer information
(evidence) as to why a permanent 209A Order, which lasts for one year,
should or should not be granted. Bring any hospital records, photographs
or police reports you may have for the judge to review. You may also bring
a support person with you. The abuser may be present at the ten day
hearing and may oppose the 209A Order. If the abuser is not present and
has been served with the Order, the judge can still grant the Order for
one year period.
What Happens At The End Of A Year Or The End Of The Effective Date?
If a 209A Order is issued by the judge for a year, you must return to the
court for an extension of the Order at the end of that year or the Order
What Should You Do If You Want To Change The Terms Of The Order?
Any changes in the Order before that date must be made with both you and
the abuser appearing in the same court where the Order was first given. A
request to change or amend the Order can be made at the Clerk’s Office,
and a hearing will be arranged before a judge.
Can A Minor Obtain A 209A Order?
A minor under 18 years old can obtain a 209A Order with some restrictions.
Generally, a parent or guardian needs to be present, but the judge can
decide to issue a 209A Order without a parent present if the minor appears
to be in danger. In some cases, the Department of Social Services may
offer assistance in gaining help for a minor. Many high schools and
colleges also offer support groups for students in violent relationships.
A parent may also obtain a protective order for his or her child.
What Happens If The Order Is Violated?
Once a 209A Order is issued, violation of certain terms of the Order is a
criminal offense. Violations of orders to refrain from abuse, to have no
contact, and to vacate a household, multiple family dwelling or workplace,
can be prosecuted criminally under chapter 209A. If the abuser violates
the order, call the police immediately. Show the Order to the police and
explain how it was violated ( a punch, slap, threat; entering your house
or apartment or refusing to vacate; or, any contact with you at home or
your workplace, either in person, by telephone or mail). The police must
arrest the abuser if they believe or can see that the terms of the Order
were violated. If you do not call the police, you may be able to file an
application for a criminal complaint on your own at the Clerk’s Office in
the District Court. A Victim/Witness Advocate can assist you with that
If you put yourself in contact with the abuser, he is vulnerable to
arrest. Therefore, if you want any terms of the order to no longer apply,
you should return to court and ask that the order be modified or vacated.
What Happens If An Arrest Is Made?
If the abuser is arrested, seek assistance from the Victim/ Witness
Advocate in the District Attorney’s Office the next morning after a
nighttime arrest or at any time during the day at the courthouse. A
Victim/Witness Advocate will explain what the charges mean and what will
happen next. The Advocate will also offer ongoing information, referral
for services and cases updates throughout the time the case is in court.
What Crimes Can Be Charged?
In addition to the crime of violating a 209A Order, an abuser can be
charged with a number of other crimes committed at or near the time of the
violation, some of which may include:
Assault (G.L. c. 265, Section 13A), which is an attempt or offer to do
bodily injury by force or violence or attempt to batter.
Assault and Battery (G.L. c. 265, Section 13A), which is a harmful or
un-permitted touching of another, no matter how slight, without a legal
right to do so.
Assault and Battery by Means of a Dangerous Weapon ( G.L. c. 265, Section
15), which is a battery with a dangerous weapon, such as a baseball bat, a
shod foot, a knife or other object either inherently dangerous or used in
a way that may cause serious injury or death to another.
Threats (G.L. c. 27, section 4), which are verbal or written threats to do
harm which a victim reasonably believes the abuser can commit.
Trespassing (G.L. c. 266, section 120), which is entering or remaining in
a house or on land in violation of a 209A Order.
Malicious Destruction of Personal Property (G.L. c. 266, section 127),
which is the destruction of or injury to personal property, a house or
building in a manner that is willful and malicious.
Stalking (G.L. c. 265, section, 43 (a)), which is the willful, malicious
and repeated following or harassing of an individual and the making of
threats with the intent to place that person in imminent fear of death or
serious bodily injury. The penalties are greater for a conviction of a
stalking crime committed in violation of a 209A Order.
Intimidation of a Witness (G.L. c.268, section 13B)
did, directly or indirectly, willfully endeavor by means of a gift, offer
or promise of something of value or by misrepresentation,
intimidation, force or
express or implied threats of force, to influence, impede, obstruct, delay
or otherwise interfere with a witness in a stage of a trial, grand
jury or other criminal
proceeding, or with a person furnishing information to a criminal
investigator relating to a violation of a criminal statute of this
Commonwealth, in violation
of G.L. c.268, §13B.
What Happens After An Arrest?
Once a criminal complaint has been issued or an arrest made, the abuser
will be charged with the crime or crimes at an arraignment proceeding in
the District Court. A bail hearing will be held to determine whether the
defendant/abuser will be released from custody, the court must make a
reasonable effort to notify you of the release, even if you are not
present in court.
What Happens At The Arraignment?
It is important to provide information to the Assistant District Attorney
before the arraignment and bail hearing regarding the history of the abuse
and a description of the most recent abuse, including any pictures or
hospital records of injuries. You should also mention the location of any
guns or other weapons that you believe the abuser has in his or her
The Assistant District Attorney ill bring this information to the
attention of the judge, along with your safety concerns and fears at this
time. The judge may also consider whether the defendant/ abuser should be
jailed until trial; or, if the defendant/ abuser is to be released, what
the bail and conditions of bail will be.
The Assistant District Attorney represents the Commonwealth of
Massachusetts in prosecuting the case, and works with the Victim/Witness
Advocate to address your interests and assist you during trial.
What Happens After The Arraignment?
Interviews will be held with you before the trial, to gather information
and evidence for prosecution. Every effort will be made to consider your
needs and safety in going forward with the case. The safety of your
children will also be priority.
Prosecution may provide the means to gain batterer’s intervention services
for the defendant/abuser as part of a sentence recommendation. Very few
batterer’s seek or stay with these services on their own, without court
orders and probation supervision. An Assistant District will speak with
you about different sentences that can be imposed if the defendant /abuser
is found guilty by a judge or jury or plead guilty. The sentence asked for
may include drug or alcohol counseling, required attendance at a
batterer’s intervention program, supervised probation and /or jail time.
What Is A Certified Batterer’s Intervention Program?
Certified batterer’s intervention programs provide services in very strict
group settings to try to help batterer’s learn to accept responsibility
for their violence, as well as understand and change their controlling and
The groups are led by certified batterer’s intervention counselors trained
in dealing with domestic violence offenders. The programs work with the
courts and victim services to help make sure those partners of batterer’s
remain safe. The programs may involve weekly sessions of 1 to 2 hours in
length. The batterer must participate in the program for a minimum of 80
hours. Group leaders feel your safety is a priority concern and will keep
ongoing contact with you.
Will The Intervention Stop The Abuse?
There are no guarantees that the violence will stop because the abuser
attends a certified batterer’s intervention program. Many abusers drop out
of programs or do not comply with the requirements, or only reduce their
abuse temporarily. If the judge requires attendance as part of a sentence,
dropping out may mean the defendant/ abuser may have to serve jail time.
The abuser must want to change the abusive behavior and work hard at
making those changes. Promises to change, flowers and apologies are not
enough. You deserve to be safe and free from abuse.
Your Risk Of Harm?
Statistically, the most dangerous time for victim is when leaving the
batterer. The abuser may feel he is losing control and become dangerously
angry. Take steps to protect yourself from abuse or punishment from your
abuser. Please trust your instincts. If you are afraid that something may
happen, take your feelings seriously and protect yourself. You know your
situation better than anyone else.
Suggestions For Protection;
Develop a safety plan that includes an escape plan for you and your
children should a violent incident occur. During an incident, try to move
away from an area or room where access to weapons might increase your
risk, such as the kitchen, or where you can be trapped or easily injured.
Call the police or leave the house as soon as possible after an abusive
incident. The police will respond and stay with you until you are safe or
in a safe place. The police will also help you seek medical treatment, if
needed. If you feel you may be in danger, dial the police number and hang
up before it rings, so that the redial button will automatically call the
police if you need them quickly.
Be alert when leaving the courthouse. If you have any reason to believe
your abuser may be waiting for you, please ask someone in the District
Attorney’s Office or Court Advocate to help. A police officer or a court
officer may be able to escort you to your car.
Guns or weapons will be ordered turned over to the police by the judge,
along with any license to carry the guns and firearms identification card.
Inform the police of any guns/weapons the abuser may keep in the house.
Consider changing the locks on your home. The judge can order the abuser
to turn over the keys to your home and/or your car. Keep an extra set of
keys in a safe place.
Inform your neighbors if a 209A order is in place. Encourage them to call
the police if they see or suspect that something is wrong.
Make copies of important papers and keep them in a safe place. Make a list
of the things you need to take with you (birth/medical records, marriage
license, check/ bank books, credit cards, medications).
Keep emergency money and extra clothes for yourself and your children in a
safe place or with someone you trust. Include a few toys and favorite
things for the children.
Keep the victim’s service agency number handy for emergency shelter and
for support groups. You do not have to leave the abuser or have a 209A
Order to attend the support groups. Information and support in making
decisions are important.
Get Medical attention as you may be injured much more seriously than you
realize. Go to a hospital emergency room or your private doctor as soon as
possible for treatment. Ask for a copy of the treatment record.
Have pictures taken of your injuries and bruises at the hospital, police
department, shelter or District Attorney’s Office.
Click below for some very helpful
Plymouth County Domestic Violence Unit
Shore Women's Center
Massachusetts 209A Law