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Domestic Violence and Welfare

Produced by Greater Boston Legal Services
Reviewed April 2019

What is domestic violence?

When a person abuses his or her girlfriend, boyfriend, or spouse, it is called domestic violence. The abuse does not have to be physically violent to be domestic violence.  When one person in a relationship tries to control and overpower the other person, that is domestic violence. There are many types of domestic violence. Some kinds of domestic violence are:

  • Physical abuse: pushing, shoving, hitting, biting, kicking, throwing things at a person, using a weapon, forced sex or touching, rape, choking, etc.;
  • Sexual abuse: treating you like a sex object; forcing you to have sex or do sexual things when you don't want to;
  • Isolation: keeping you from seeing people; controlling who you see and talk to; wanting to control where you are all the time;
  • Emotional abuse: calling you names; putting you down; playing mind games; humiliating you in public;
  • Economic abuse: taking your money; making you ask for money; controlling all the money;
  • Using children: using visitation as a way to harass you; pumping the children for information about you; insulting you in front of the children;
  • Threats: saying he will take the children; telling you that you will never see the children again; threatening to hurt you; threatening to report you to welfare or DSS; threatening to hurt your family; threatening to hurt himself; name calling, yelling;
  • Insisting on being in charge: treating you like a servant; making the big decisions;
  • Intimidation: using looks; hurting pets; destroying your property.

Two-thirds of mothers who get TAFDC have lived with domestic violence. The effects of domestic violence can last for a long time, even after a person is no longer with their abuser. Domestic violence is the reason that many people lose their jobs, can't work, or lose their homes.

If you can not meet a TAFDC rule because of current or past domestic violence, you can ask for a "domestic violence waiver" or "exception" of that rule. A "domestic violence waiver" of a TAFDC rule stops that rule from applying to you.

Learn more about domestic violence waivers in the Domestic Violence section of MassLegalHelp.

Learn more about domestic violence in the Domestic Violence section of MassLegalHelp.

Learn more about domestic violence and cash benefits in the Domestic Violence section of MassLegalHelp.

Learn more about TAFDC for domestic violence survivors in the Domestic Violence section of MassLegalHelp.

Learn more about TAFDC in the Income and Benefits section of MassLegalHelp.

Can I get legal help?

Local legal services offices work with survivors of domestic violence and have experience helping families with TAFDC rules. Call your local legal services program to see if you qualify for free legal help.

Find Legal Aid

You may be able to get free legal help from your local legal aid program. Or email a question about your own legal problem to a lawyer.

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