A "Restraining Order" also known as as "209A Order" or an "Abuse Prevention Order" is a civil court order that provides protection from physical or sexual harm caused by force, or threat of harm from a family or household member. An Order can be obtained against:

  • a spouse or former spouse
  • a present or former household member
  • a relative by blood or a present or former relative by marriage
  • the parent of a minor child, even if the parents never married or lived together
  • a person involved in a substantial dating relationship with the victim.

Obtaining a Restraining Order

You may obtain a restraining order in any district, superior or probate and family court in Massachusetts.  An emergency order is available through any police department after court hours and on weekends.

A sworn statement (affidavit) describing the facts of a recent or past incident(s) of abuse is required on the application or complaint form for a restraining order.  It is also important to provide information about the abuser, such as work address, telephone, birth date and social security number.

How Does A Restraining Order Work?

The court can order the abuser to:

  • stop or refrain from abuse
  • have no contact with the victim
  • vacate or remain away from a house or workplace
  • surrender all firearms and firearm identification cards

The court can also award temporary support and custody of minor children to the victim.

Once a restraining order is issued, violation of its terms is a criminal offense and police officers must arrest if they believe or can see that the terms of the Order were violated.  If the abuser violates the Order, call the police immediately.  It is recommended to carry the Order with you at all times and to notify neighbors, employers and child care providers of its terms.

Victim Witness Advocates of the Essex District Attorney's Office are available in all eight district courts to assist victims of domestic violence. Advocates work closely with other local domestic violence agencies to provide coordinated, sensitive services for victims. An advocate can assist women in obtaining restraining orders (209As), explain the criminal justice process and provide support and referrals. For a more comprehensive review of both the restraining order process and the criminal justice process refer to our brochures.

Domestic Violence - The Law and Your Right to Be Safe

Victim Witness Services - Your Rights and the Court Process