Writing your 209A affidavit

Also in
Show Endnotes
Massachusetts Law Reform Institute

The affidavit is your written statement about why you are afraid of the abusive person and need a restraining order. It is one of the forms you fill out when you apply for a 209A restraining order. An affidavit is called a “sworn statement” because when you sign it, you swear that everything in the statement is true to the best of your knowledge.

Why is an affidavit important?

It is probably the first thing a judge reads to understand why you are afraid of your abuser and need a restraining order. You might have different judges at different hearings, and they will each read your affidavit. Because it is a “sworn statement,” a restraining order affidavit can also be used in other courts or cases. This is why it is important to be brief but clear about your fear and why you need a restraining order.

What should I write in my affidavit?

Your affidavit should say when and how the defendant abused you and why you are afraid of the defendant. 

Start with the most recent incident that is making you afraid. Often, the first question that a judge will ask you is what happened that day that made you come into court to ask for a restraining order. You should try to make that clear in your affidavit. Besides the most recent incident, your affidavit should talk about the most serious thing that the abusive person did to you. 

Remember that you can get a restraining order against someone you have a romantic or family relationship with who has:

  • hurt you physically;
  • tried to hurt you physically;
  • made you scared or threatened they would physically hurt you; or
  • forced you to have sex or sexual contact by pressuring or threatening you.

Write some details about what the defendant did that falls into one or more of these categories. You do not need to give all the details, just enough for the judge to know what happened to you. You can mention if you called the police or got medical treatment because of something the defendant did to you. An affidavit does not need to be long or take up the whole page. 

Example: Last night, Sam and I had an argument about money. Sam pushed me up against the wall and put their hand around my neck and squeezed. Eventually I was able to duck out and I ran to the neighbor’s house and called 911. The police came and arrested Sam.

When you are writing about a time where you were scared that the defendant could hurt you, you should give enough detail for the judge to know what the defendant did and why it made you afraid that you would be hurt.

Example: Last night, Sam and I had an argument about money. Sam backed me into a corner and screamed in my face. Sam punched the wall right next to my head. Sam has told me in the past that they could hurt me and no one would do anything about it.

It is very common for people to be abused in ways that are not physical. For example, the abusive person may have called you names or stolen money from you. Even though these things are important, you should not focus on them in your affidavit. Instead, write about the things that are legal reasons a judge can give you a restraining order: physical and/or sexual abuse. 

Is there anything I shouldn’t put in my affidavit?

Anything you put in the affidavit will be read by the judge and the defendant. You will also be asked questions in court about what you write in your affidavit. Don’t write anything that you would not feel comfortable saying in court or having the defendant see.

Be careful when writing about things you did that could be considered crimes. For example, hitting the defendant back, even if you believe it was self-defense. This is to protect yourself from your abuser reporting you to the police.  

Also, the court staff are mandated reporters. They may report anything you say about your children being physically hurt to DCF. It is not unusual for these things to happen, but you should talk to a lawyer about how to write about them and talk about them in court.

What if I am asking for a restraining order for my child?

You might file for a restraining order on behalf of your child if they are the one who has been abused or threatened by the defendant, not you. You should write about what happened to them and why they need the order.

If you are the one asking for a restraining order against the defendant and want your children included on the order so the defendant can’t contact them either, there is a place to explain why on page 2 of the paperwork.

See How can a Restraining Order protect my child? for more information.

Resource Boxes
More Resources
Who to call for help with domestic violence
DV - Who to call for help

Call 911 if you are in danger right now.

If you are not in immediate danger, you can contact:

See Jane Doe's list of Massachusetts domestic violence programs and court resources for safety and support.

Get help applying for a 209A
DV Help applying for 209A


Was this page helpful?