A Message from the Domestic Violence Office

The Department of Correction Domestic Violence Office was established on January 5, 1998, under
the auspices of the Division of Human Resources.  The primary mission of this unit is to provide
services to employees and their family members who are confronted with issues of domestic
violence.

Robert J. Sawyer, noted writer, said, “Learning to ignore things is one of the great paths to
inner peace.”

This statement should never apply to acts of abuse. Domestic violence is an extremely serious
issue that is unacceptable under any circumstances. By ignoring the behavior we protect the secret
that feeds off our complacency.  We all need to place accountability where it belongs – with the
abuser. It is not just the victim who pays the price for these tragic events, but society at
large, our communities, and the workplace. We, as individuals, will only be able to experience
inner peace when our children, our co-workers, our friends, and our family members are safe in
their relationships.

While the vast majority of law enforcement families live lives free of abuse, according to the
National Center for Women and Policing the rate of domestic violence is estimated to be 2 to 4
times higher in police families than that of the general public.  The Department recognizes the
unique position of victims when the abuser is a member of law enforcement.  In working with these
victims, it has been demonstrated that the abuser may use their position to deter the victim from
reporting the abuse. It has also been determined that training and law enforcement experience can
become a tactic used to commit acts of abuse.

Common examples are: using a Department issued uniform and badge as a form of intimidation, using
interrogation techniques to gain information from the victim about their daily activities, using
knowledge of the criminal justice system to provide misinformation, and/or using their presence
(stance and voice) to establish authority

Research has proven that domestic violence occurs in cases where the abuser is attempting to gain
or  maintain power and control in the relationship. It is incorrect to believe that these acts are
caused by alcohol/drug abuse, the stress of a job or home environment.  These are simply excuses
given by the abuser to justify the behavior. Abusive acts come in many forms; some more subtle
than others. All acts of abuse are serious and some are considered criminal and against the law.
Here are some examples:

• Control through criticism, moodiness, anger, or threats

• Limiting contact with other people by starting fights or making you ask for permission to
visit with  family and/or friends

• Calls several times a day to “check on you”

• Monitoring your behavior or where-about, including engaging family/friends

• Uses intimidation tactics to control you by making you think what could happen (getting in
your face, punching the wall, or driving erratically)

• Any form of physical, sexual, spiritual, or economic abuse

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: If I need to file a restraining order against my partner/spouse does it mean that he/she will
lose their job?

A: Not necessarily. Restraining orders are civil and not considered a criminal offense. Any
violation of such an order is a criminal offense. The Department of Correction is required to
comply with all restrictions listed on a restraining order. The employee will be not allowed to
use weapons while at work. Employees under a weapons restriction will still be expected to come to
work unless the circumstances of the case dictate otherwise. The Department does, however, reserve
the right to impose discipline based on subsequent rule violations. Each case will be reviewed
individually.  

Q: My spouse/partner is the subject of a restraining order that has been modified by the Court to
state that weapons will be allowed for the course of duty. Will the Department lift the weapons
restriction?

A: No. An Act Relative to Gun Control in the Commonwealth, Chapter 180 of the Acts of 1998,
enacted on October 21, 1998, made changes to existing firearms law.  The change relative to FID
Cards, Class A, or Class B LTC is that anyone who is the subject of a permanent or temporary
restraining/protection order issued pursuant to Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 209A, including
suspension and surrender order, (or an order of protection issued by another jurisdiction) is now
disqualified from holding any of the above licenses. This means that the licensing authority must
continue the suspension of a permit even if a court modifies or vacates a suspension and surrender
order, as long as the underlying order remains in effect.  

Q: What if criminal charges are filed against my partner/spouse?  How will this affect his/her
job?

A: Each incident is looked at on a case-by-case basis.  According to the Prohibition of Domestic
Violence Policy, a judicial finding of cause must be found before termination can take place. This
does not mean that some form of disciplinary action will not occur based on subsequent rule
violations. The Department always reserves the right to terminate based on the facts of the case
regardless of the judicial outcome.

Q: What if my partner/spouse is convicted of a domestic violence offense?

A: The Lautenberg Amendment was signed into federal law effective September 30, 1996. This law
makes it unlawful for anyone convicted of a domestic violence offense (including misdemeanors) to
ship, transport, possess or receive firearms and/or ammunition. This law does not make exceptions
for law enforcement personnel or military personnel.

Q: What if, as a family member, I have specific questions but do not want to reveal any
information that would allow the Department to identify my abusive partner/spouse?

A: If you choose not to reveal information that would allow us to identify your abusive partner,
we will still assist with whatever questions or services you request.  The safety and well being
of our employees and their families is our biggest concern, refer to available services listed on
this brochure.

Services Available From the Domestic Violence Office

• Safety Planning
• Confidential Support and Guidance
• Referrals for individual counseling (including children), group counseling, community
services, certified programs for those with abusive/controlling behavior
• Information concerning Department of Correction Prohibition of Domestic Violence Policy
(103 DOC 238), the criminal court process and restraining order process
• Address Confidentiality Program (administered by the Secretary of State’s Office)

If you are in an abusive relationship, for assistance PLEASE contact any of the agencies listed
below.

You are not alone!

If you are in immediate danger, dial 911.

Department of Correction

Domestic Violence Coordinator
978-514-6589

These services are also available during non-business hours by contacting the Duty Station at
508-668-2760. Requests for program referral will be kept confidential.

Domestic Violence SafeLink
1-877-785-2020
1-877-521-2601 (TTY)

National Domestic Violence Hotline
24-hours for confidential crisis
intervention, information and referrals
1-800-799-SAFE (7233)
1-800-799-3224 (TTY)

National Sexual Assault Hotline
1-800-656-HOPE (4673)