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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."

The Domestic Violence section of MassLegalHelp has important information for victims and survivors of domestic violence about their rights concerning child support, housing, employment, immigration, making it on your own, criminal complaints, Chapter 209A Abuse Prevention Orders ("restraining orders"), custody and visitation, separation and divorce, paternity, the Department of Children and Families (DCF) that used to be called Department of Social Services (DSS), personal property, and doing a case in the Probate and Family Court.  Domestic Violence also has legal forms and samples, booklets, brochures, and pamphlets, and information and links to critical services and resources.

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