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Can I Keep My Address Secret?

Produced by an AmeriCorps Project of Western Massachusetts Legal Services. Updated and revised by Attorney Jeff Wolf for MassLegalHelp
Last Updated February, 2012

Can I keep my address secret from the abusive person if I fill out these forms?

Yes!

When you file for your abuse prevention order, you do not put your home address, home phone number, the name of your workplace, work address, work phone number, the name of your school, or your school address on your Complaint for Protection from Abuse.  You put that information on a Confidential Information form. This form is kept in a different file somewhere in the court so the abusive person can't see it.

Also, if you do not want this information to appear on your Abuse Prevention Order, be sure to check boxes 4a, 4b, and 4c in section J of your Complaint for Protection from Abuse.

You still need to be careful even if you get the court to keep your address secret. There are many other ways that the abusive person can find out where you live.

Is the Confidential Information form the same as the Address Confidentiality Program?

No. The Address Confidentiality Program is something different. It tells government agencies to keep your address secret. It sets up another mailing address for you. Government agencies send mail to the other address. You can use this other address on any form that asks for your home, work, or school address. The Address Confidentiality Program staff will forward mail to you at your real address. This way nobody knows your real address except the Address Confidentiality Program and the post office.

To use this program, you must:

  • Live at a new address that the abusive person does not know and
  • Showthat your life or your child's life will be in danger if the abusive person learns your address

If you use this program, you must never tell the abusive person or any government agency what your address is. If you want to apply for this program, ask the court clerk about it. The clerk at the District Court or the Probate and Family Court may be able to help you. Your local domestic violence agency also may be able to help you. You can also apply by calling the Address Confidentiality Program at 1-866-SAFE-ADD.

Is there someone in the courthouse to help me fill out the forms for the 209A protective order?

In some courts, the clerk will help you fill out these forms. But the clerk cannot go in front of the judge with you or give you any legal advice.

There may be an advocate in the courthouse who can help you with the paperwork and stand with you in front of the judge. Ask the court clerk if there is an advocate who can help you. The clerk will know.

If there is an advocate at the courthouse, the advocate will not be someone who works for the court. The advocate probably will not be a lawyer. The advocate may be:

  • a Victim/Witness Advocate from the District Attorney's (DA's) office; or
  • a SAFEPLAN advocate. SAFEPLAN is a program of the Massachusetts Office of Victim Assistance (MOVA). SAFEPLAN advocates work with local domestic violence programs; or
  • an advocate from a battered women's program/shelter or another social service agency.