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Domestic Violence

Domestic violence is a pattern of behavior used to maintain power and control over an intimate partner or family member.

If the situation is an emergency, call 911 immediately.

Domestic violenceĀ is a serious national problem that knows no racial, religious, cultural or economic boundaries. Victims can be of any age, race, sexual orientation, gender or marital status and represent a variety of socio-economic backgrounds and education levels. Intimate partner violence is primarily a crime against women. Although domestic violence affects women, men, children and elders, women are most often the victims and each year 1.5 million women are assaulted by a partner or loved one.

Abusive behaviors include

  • Physical and sexual - pushing, hitting, slapping, strangling, kicking, biting; forcing someone to have sex or engage in sexual acts against their will

  • Emotional abuse - name-calling, put-downs, making someone feel guilty, crazy or badly about oneself and/or blaming them for the abuse

  • Coercion, threats, intimidation - making someone afraid using looks, actions, gestures (glares, smashing things, showing weapons, abusing pets), making and/or carryout threats to hurt, threatening to leave, to commit suicide, to report to DCF/welfare/immigration, or pressure to drop criminal charges

  • Isolation- controlling what someone does, where they go, or who they see or talk to, keeping them from family or friends, using jealousy to justify actions

  • Using children- criticizing parenting skills, threatening to take children away, using children to relay messages, using visitation to harass

  • Economic- preventing someone from working or having access to and knowledge about family income

Domestic violence not only affects those who are abused, but may also negatively impact family, friends, co-workers, other witnesses and the community at large.

Exposure to domestic violence also has profound effects on children. Research indicates that as many as 10 million children per year may witness or be victims of violence in their homes. There is a correlation between domestic violence and child abuse, which may result in a child being physically injured as a direct result of domestic violence. Even if there is no physical harm inflicted upon a child, being a witness to domestic violence in the home often causes adverse effects.

Many children who witness violence in the home suffer from anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder. Young children may exhibit eating and sleeping difficulties and concentration problems. They may become withdrawn, or they may whine more and become more "clingy". Older children may exhibit these same symptoms, and also run the risk of becoming violent themselves, or suffering academic failure, substance abuse, and problems in their own relationships. In addition, these children are more likely to commit anti-social behavior at a young age and have a significantly higher risk of becoming involved in the juvenile justice system than those who have not been exposed to violence in the home

No one deserves to be abused or exploited. It is extremely important to seek help for yourself and your children if you are or have been a victim of abuse.

District Attorney Caccaviello is committed to holding the guilty accountable and preserving the rights and dignity of all victims. 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.

If you or someone you know is a victim of domestic violence or is in fear, 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.

Abuse Prevention Orders (Restraining Orders)

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.

Safety Planning

Domestic violence does not lessen over time. Violence generally occurs more frequently over time, lasts longer, and causes greater physical injury. Statistically, the most dangerous time for a victim is when leaving the abuser.

The following are some tips for your safety whether or not you are able to leave your abuser

  1. Do not tell the abuser you are planning to leave. Formulate a safety plan and put it into action quickly.
  2. If there is an argument, move to an area in which you have access to an exit. What doors, windows, elevators, stairwells would you use to leave safely?
  3. Keep a packed bag and emergency money in a safe and accessible location, and know where you will go if you must leave in a hurry.
  4. Make and keep copies of your and your children's important documents (birth certificate, marriage license, medical records, insurance documents, Social Security Card, passport, green card, check/bank books, medications, etc.) in a safe place for you to take with you when you leave.
  5. Use a code word with your children, family, friends or neighbors so they know when to call for help.
  6. Change locks on your doors. Install other safety devices/locks on doors and windows.
  7. Keep a list of important contact names and telephone numbers including the local domestic violence agency, as you do not need to leave your abuser to use their services.
  8. Call 911. Obtain an Abuse Prevention Order.

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, 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.

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