An Abuse Prevention Order (also known as a restraining order or a 209A protective order) is a court order to protect one person from being abused by another person.

The legal definition of abuse is

  1. Causing or attempting to cause physical harm
  2. Placing another in fear of imminent serious physical harm
  3. Causing another to engage involuntarily in sexual relations by force, threat of force, or duress

When can I obtain an Abuse Prevention Order?

If you have been abused, as defined above, you may be able to obtain an Abuse Prevention Order, also called a 209A order.

Who can I obtain an Abuse Prevention Order against?

  1. Spouse
  2. Former spouse
  3. Blood relative or relative by marriage
  4. Current or former household member
  5. Someone with whom you have had a significant dating relationship

What protection is offered by an Abuse Prevention Order?

You may ask the court to order:

  1. There be no further abuse
  2. The abuser not have any contact with you directly or indirectly
  3. The abuser leave and remain away from your residence and/or workplace
  4. Temporary custody of children be awarded to you
  5. The abuser not have any contact with said children
  6. Your address be impounded to prevent its disclosure to the abuser

You may request all or only some of these provisions depending on your specific needs for protection.

If the abuser violates the Abuse Prevention Order, call the police immediately. Explain to the police how the order was violated. The abuser may be subject to arrest.

Where may I obtain an Abuse Prevention Order?

An Abuse Prevention Order may be obtained at the Superior Court, District Court or Probate & Family Court in either the community in which you live, or the community you have fled to for safety. An emergency order may be obtained through any police department after court hours or on weekends. You do not need an attorney and there is no cost involved.

Victim Assistance Advocates are available at each District Court in Berkshire County to provide court advocacy, safety planning or referrals. Advocates work closely with other local domestic violence agencies to provide coordinated, sensitive services for victims. An Advocate can assist anyone in obtaining a restraining order (209A), explaining the criminal justice process and providing support and referrals.

For more information on Abuse Prevention Orders and the protection they offer, contact a Victim Assistance Advocate in the Berkshire District Attorney's Office at 413-443-5951.

If the situation is an emergency, call 911 immediately.