Information regarding filing a Restraining Order for domestic violence victims:
A restraining order, also referred to as a 209A protective order, is one option for you to consider in seeking safety from your abuser. The information below describes court orders and answers to commonly asked questions such as how to get one, how they are enforced and how to make a decision about seeking an order.
We encourage people to recognize that restraining orders are only a piece of a larger safety plan. It is important that you make safety plan in addition to obtaining a restraining order. A shelter can help you know what is available to you. Call 1-877-785-2020 to be connected to the program nearest you. In an emergency call 9-1-1 for a police officer to come to your aid. For additional information regarding safety planning, please visit the Jane Doe, Inc - The Massachusetts Coalition Against Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence website
The law for restraining orders (209A) covers those people who are or have been in any of the following relationships:
- A substantive dating relationship
- Living together in the same household
- Engaged or married
- Have a child together
- Related by blood or marriage
How Does A Judge Decide Whether to Issue the Order?
Under the law, the judge needs to determine:
- If the relationship is covered by the law, and
- If the victim has shown "a substantial likelihood of immediate danger of abuse"
How to Get a Restraining Order
A legal advocate can make getting a 209A less confusing, and his/her services are free. Call your local battered women's program and ask for assistance or ask at the court if there is a legal advocate available.
- Go to the Clerk's Office at the courthouse in your community and complete an affidavit requesting a restraining order.
- You will then need to go before a judge, who will ask you questions about your safety and has the authority to grant a temporary (10 day) restraining order at that time. You will be given a copy to carry with you at all times and a copy to file with the police.
- The court will tell the police that the order has been issued and the police will then serve the abuser with the order. You should tell the court the whereabouts of the abuser. If there is a vacate order, the police can enforce this by being at your home as the abuser leaves.
- Within 10 days you will attend another hearing where your abuser may be present to tell his/her side of the story. This may be very difficult, and it helps to have an advocate present for support. You will tell your story again, and at this time the judge can extend the 209A protective order for up to a year.
- To get an emergency protection order on holidays, nights, or weekends, call the police. They will contact an emergency response judge. If the abuser violates this order, call the police immediately. Violation of this order is a criminal offense, and penalties can include jail terms.
A Restraining Order Can Do More Than Protect You
Any of the following provisions that apply to your situation may be added to the basic order. (Note: The initial order lasts up to ten days but can be extended for one year.)
- Restraining Order - Your abuser must not come near you or abuse you again. In Massachusetts, all restraining orders require that the abuser surrender any firearms and licenses to carry a firearm.
- Vacate Order - Your abuser must move out of the shared residence.
- Child Support Order - You will receive temporary support for your children.
- Custody Order - You will receive temporary custody of your children.
- Restitution Order - You will receive repayment for lost wages, medical expenses, or other costs and damages.
- Police Emergency 9-1-1
- SafeLink, a statewide domestic violence and sexual assault hotline operated by Casa Myrna Vazquez 1-877-785-2020
- Court advocacy programs within Jane Doe Inc. member programs
- Massachusetts Office of Victim Assistance: 617-727-5200
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