Domestic violence does not discriminate.  It affects people in all walks of life.  No matter your gender, religion, race, occupation, socioeconomic status, you may find yourself in a position where you are seeking protection from abuse or where you are charged with being an abuser.

The Court provides protection from abuse and/or harassment with the following orders:

1.  Restraining Order (G.L. 209A G.L. c 258E) applies to household family members

A person suffering from abuse from an adult or minor family or household member may file a complaint in the court requesting protection from such abuse, including, but not limited to ordering the defendant to refrain from abusing the plaintiff, ordering the defendant to refrain from contacting the plaintiff (unless authorized by the court), ordering the defendant to vacate forthwith and remain away from the household and/or  awarding the plaintiff temporary custody of and/or support for a minor child.

2.  Harassment Protection Order (G.L. c 258E) applies to unrelated parties

A person suffering from harassment (see below) may file a complaint in the appropriate court requesting protection. That person may petition the court for an order that the defendant refrain from abusing or harassing the plaintiff, refrain from contacting the plaintiff (unless authorized by the court), remain away from the plaintiff’s household or workplace and/or pay the plaintiff certain limited and actual monetary compensation for the losses suffered as a direct result of the harassment.   Harassment is defined as three or more acts of willful and malicious conduct aimed at a specific person committed with the intent to cause fear, intimidation, abuse or damage to property and that does in fact cause fear, intimidation, abuse or damage to property or an act that by force, threat or duress causes another to involuntarily engage in sexual relations or constitutes a violation of section 13B, 13F, 13H, 22, 22A, 23, 24, 24B, 26C, 43 or 43A of chapter 265 or section 3 of chapter 272,

It is important to understand that these orders are each civil in nature.  However, a violation of these orders will result in a criminal charge.  There are very real consequences to obtaining and to violating these orders.

If you are the person that seeks the Court’s protection, you must do everything in your power to obtain an order.  If you are being abused, you will benefit from the threat of a criminal charge if the order is violated.  It is incumbent on you to meet the Court’s standard of proof in order to obtain the order.  Failure to do so will result in the Court’s refusal to issue the order, leaving you unprotected.

If you are the defendant, you must defend the issuance of this order.  It will impede your liberty and subject you to reports of violations.  You must properly attack the plaintiff’s inability to meet the standard and be prepared with testimony, cross examination, witnesses and evidence.  If the order issues, you must understand the order and know what is expected of you in order to assure compliance.

If you need assistance with a domestic violence issue, please contact Christine G. DeBernardis.