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Domestic Violence

"Domestic violence" refers to many kinds of abuse committed by a member of a family, a household, or an intimate partner against another member of the family, household, or against the intimate partner. "Domestic Violence" also refers to many forms of abuse committed by one person against another in certain dating relationships or engagements.

You can seek a court order to protect you if your abuser

  • harms you physically,
  • tries to harm you physically,
  • makes you afraid that serious physical harm is going to happen to you, or
  • threatens, pressures or forces you to have sex.

This court order is to protect you from further harm. It is called an "abuse prevention order," a "restraining order," or a "209A."

"Domestic violence" is sometimes called "battering," and it also refers to abusive patterns of power and control in family, household, and intimate partner relationships.

Know Your Rights: Domestic Violence, published by the American Bar Association, says that "Domestic violence is a pattern of many behaviors directed at achieving and maintaining power and control over an intimate partner, such as physical violence, emotional abuse, isolation of the victim, economic abuse, intimidation, and coercion and threats."

Produced by Massachusetts Law Reform Institute
Last Updated December, 2007

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