Domestic Violence & Abuse Prevention

Unfortunately, domestic violence exists in every type of relationship and in every community.  Abuse may include harassment, control, assault and physical violence, sexual abuse, and neglect.  Harassment and abuse may also take place outside of a dating or domestic relationship, including in the workplace, housing, or an educational institution.

If you are experiencing physical or emotional abuse by a spouse, partner, or other individual you should contact the police and an attorney experienced in issues involving domestic violence, abuse prevention, and safety planning.  Our dedicated attorneys will listen to your story, assist in establishing a safety plan with you, and to work with law enforcement and the court system to advocate for your legal needs and your physical safety.  We assist clients in taking back control of their lives with support, planning, and advocacy.

  • What Protections Are Available Under The Law?
  • What Can The Court Order Under A 209A Restraining Order?
  • What If I Am Being Harassed Or Abused By A Person Who Does Not Fit Any Of The 209A Restraining Order Categories?
  • What Can The Court Order Under A 258E Restraining Order?
  • How Do I Obtain a Restraining Order Under 209A or 258E?
  • Can I Have My Own Lawyer In Court?
  • What If The Defendant Violates The Restraining Order?
  • What If I Am In Immediate Danger?

What Protections Are Available Under The Law?

If someone has physically abused you, or attempted to physically abuse you, placed you in fear of imminent serious physical harm, or has forced you to have sex by force or by threat of force, you may be entitled to a restraining order under G.L. Chapter 209A (sometimes called an abuse prevention order or simply a "209A").

In order to qualify for a 209A restraining order, the abuser must be related to you by blood or by marriage, or someone with whom you have had or now have a "substantive" dating or engagement relationship, or anyone with whom you have lived or now live, or your current or former spouse, or the parent of your child(ren).

What Can The Court Order Under A 209A Restraining Order?

If the court decides to grant a request for a 209A restraining order, a judge may order any or all of the following: 

  • that the defendant refrain from abusing the plaintiff;
  • that the defendant vacate and stay away from where plaintiff lives or is now staying;
  • that the defendant stay away from the plaintiff's workplace and other specific locations (such as child’s school);
  • that the defendant have no contact with the plaintiff;
  • that the defendant stay at least a certain number of yards away from the plaintiff;
  • that the defendant pay the plaintiff for losses suffered as a direct result of the abuse; and
  • that the defendant relinquish all firearms.

Your attorney will work with you to make sure your specific needs and concerns are met by the court.

What If I Am Being Harassed Or Abused By A Person Who Does Not Fit Any Of The 209A Restraining Order Categories?

If you are being harassed or abused by an individual who does not fall into any of the above relationship categories required of 209A, you may seek a harassment prevention order under Chapter 258E.

You may be entitled to request a harassment prevention order from a judge if someone has committed 3 or more acts of harassment that were willfully and maliciously aimed at you and intended to cause you fear, intimidation, abuse or damage to property.

You may also be entitled to a harassment prevention order under Chapter 258E from an individual who has forced you to engage in sexual relations, or has violated any other law specifically involving sexual assault, stalking or harassment.  These include G.L. c. 265, §§ 13B (Indecent assault and battery on a child), 13F (Indecent assault and battery on a mentally retarded person), 13H (Indecent assault and battery), 22 (Rape), 22A (Forcible rape of a child), 23 (Statutory rape), 24 (Assault with intent to rape), 24B (Assault with intent to rape a child), 26C (Enticement of a child), 43 (Criminal stalking) or 43A (Criminal harassment), or G.L. c. 272, § 3 (Drugging for sexual intercourse).

What Can The Court Order Under A 258E Restraining Order?

If the court decides to grant a request for a 258E order, a judge may order any or all of the following:

  • That the defendant refrain from “abusing or harassing” the plaintiff;
  • That the defendant refrain from contacting the plaintiff
  • That the defendant remain away from the plaintiff's household or workplace; and
  • That the defendant pay the plaintiff restitution for losses caused directly by the harassment or abuse.

How Do I Obtain A Restraining Order Under 209A Or 258E?

The process for obtaining a restraining order under both 209A and 258E are very similar.

An individual seeking relief from abuse or harassment may obtain a restraining order at his or her local Superior Court, Boston Municipal Court, or District Court.  A 209A restraining order may also be obtained from the Probate and Family Court servicing the county in which you live.

Before a restraining order will be issued, the applicant must go before the judge and explain why an Abuse Prevention Order is necessary.  You must demonstrate to the judge that there is a substantial likelihood of immediate danger of abuse or, in the case of a 258E, danger of abuse or harassment.

If the judge grants the temporary protection order, it will be good for approximately 10 days.  You will be given a hearing date approximately 10 days later, at which you will need to come back to court to seek an abuse prevention order that will be in place for approximately 6 months to 1 year.  The defendant will get notice of this hearing date and will be able to attend and give his or her side of the story.  If your abuse prevention order is granted, you must then return to court prior to expiration and either ask for a further extension of the abuse prevention order or state that you no longer need the order.

If you need a protective order and the courts are closed, you may go to your local police department to obtain a temporary protective order.  They will help you get a temporary protective order from a judge on call through the "Emergency Judicial Response System."  If you are issued this order, it will only be good until the close of the next day that the court is open.  For the protection to remain in effect, you must go to court before the close of the next business day to request an abuse prevention order, via the process outlined above.

Can I Have My Own Lawyer In Court?

You are entitled to have your own lawyer with you when you apply for your initial abuse or harassment prevention order and at any later hearing on extending or modifying the terms of an order.  Oftentimes, the better prepared a plaintiff is at his or her initial hearing, the better the chances are that his or her abuse or harassment prevention order will be granted.

At Vaughn-Martel Law, our attorneys represent clients who are in need of safety planning and who wish to obtain an abuse or harassment prevention order.  In many instances, the defendant will retain an attorney to fight against the issuance of any sort of court order.  Since evidence and testimony can be introduced at your '10-Day Hearing', it is especially important to have a lawyer present who can advocate your position, defend your interests and privacy, and explain all options available to you.

What If The Defendant Violates The Restraining Order?

Violations of 209A and 258E restraining orders are criminal violations.  You may immediately contact the police upon a violation.  It is recommended that you carry a copy of your current restraining order with you at all times, so you will have it to show law enforcement if necessary.

What If I Am In Immediate Danger?

If you are in immediate danger, call 9-1-1. You can also contact SafeLink, the Massachusetts Statewide Domestic Violence hotline.  The SafeLink hotline is staffed 24 hours a day with trained domestic violence counselors who can provide help in multiple languages.  Please call the toll free number: 1-877-785-2020.


Charles River Law Partners, LLC represents clients in Suffolk County, Middlesex County, Essex County, Norfolk County, Plymouth County, Bristol County, Worcester County, Hampden County, and Franklin County.
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| Phone: 617-357-4898
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| Phone: 617-357-4898

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