Domestic Violence

Domestic Violence is a serious and growing problem throughout our country. The Massachusetts Legislature created laws that help victims of domestic violence.

Power and Control

Domestic Violence is a pattern of behavior used by an abuser to maintain power and control over his or her partner.  It may include emotional abuse ("put-downs", name calling, humiliation, mind games, treating the partner like a servant); isolation (limiting the partner's activities outside the relationship, controlling who the partner sees or speaks to and where he or she goes); financial abuse (preventing the partner from getting a job or controlling the money); threats and intimidation (making the partner feel as though he or she may be physically hurt if the abuser's demands are not satisfied, including displaying weapons, damaging property or hurting pets); and physical violence, including forced sexual relations.  Generally, domestic violence begins with non-violent behavior as the abused partner seeks to pull away from the relationship or assert his or her independence.  Once the abuse becomes physical, it generally becomes increasingly violent over time, starting from a slap or a shove and escalating to severe beatings, injuries using weapons, and ultimately, homicide.

The Cycle of Violence

The cycle of violence begins with the tension-building phase, in which tension mounts and culminates in an incident of violence.  Often, immediately after the violent episode, the abuser is remorseful and promises that no further violence will occur. It is during this "honeymoon" phase that an abused partner may come to forgive the abuser, believe that it will never happen again, and continue the relationship.  This phase may then flow into another tension-building phase culminating in an even more violent event and increasing the risk to the abused partner.

Chapter 209A Section 6 Abused Person-Notice of Rights

You have the right to appear at the Superior, Probate and Family, District Court or Boston Municipal Court, if you reside within the appropriate jurisdiction, and file a complaint requesting any of the following applicable orders:

a) An order restraining your attacker from abusing you; b) an order directing your attacker to leave your household, building or workplace; c) an order awarding you custody of a minor child; d) an order directing your attacker to pay support for you or any minor child in your custody, if the an attacker has a legal obligation of support; and e) an order directing your attacker to pay you for losses suffered as a result of abuse, including medical and moving expenses, loss of earnings or support, costs for restoring utilities and replacing locks, reasonable attorney's fees and other out-of-pocket losses for injuries and property damage sustained.

For an emergency on weekends, holidays, or weeknights, the police will refer you to a Justice of the Superior, Probate and Family, District, or Boston Municipal Court Departments.

You have the right to go to the appropriate District Court of the Boston Municipal Court and seek a criminal complaint for threats, assault and battery, assault with a deadly weapon, assault with intent to kill or other related offenses.

If you are in need of medical treatment, you have the right to request that an officer present drive you to the nearest hospital or otherwise assist you in obtaining medical treatment.

If you believe that police protection is needed for your physical safety, you have the right to request that the officer present remain at the scene until you and your children can leave or until your safety is otherwise ensured. You may also request that the officer assist you in locating and taking you to a safe place, including but not limited to a designated meeting place for a shelter or a family member's or a friend's residence, or a similar place of safety.

You may request a copy of the police incident report at no cost from the police department. The officer shall leave a copy of the foregoing statement with such person before leaving the scene or premises.

Help for Domestic Violence Victims

It goes without saying that everyone should feel safe and secure in his or her own home.  For all too many people across all segments of our society, though, domestic violence threatens their safety and security.  Domestic violence is particularly tragic when vulnerable victims, such as children, suffer in the hands of the people closest to them.  But violence in the home is not just tragic - it is also a crime.

The Assistant District Attorneys and Victim Witness Advocates are specially trained to prosecute offenders and to address the needs of victims in a sensitive manner. They work closely with domestic violence shelters and agencies throughout the area to help victims in our communities.  Let's work together to stop domestic violence.

The following telephone numbers may help to assist you:

District Attorney Victim & Witness Programs:
Berkshire County(413) 443-3500
Bristol County(508) 997-0711
Cape and Islands District(508) 362-8103
Essex County(978) 745-6610
Hampden County(413) 747-1038
Middlesex County(617) 679-6528
Norfolk County(781) 830-4800
Northwestern District(413) 586-5780
Plymouth County(508) 584-8120
Suffolk County(617) 619-4000
Worcester County(508) 792-0214
Family Violence Services:
Daybreak - Worcester(508) 755-9030
Alternative House - Lowell(978) 454-1436

If you don't find what you need on this page, please call the National Domestic Abuse Hotline for referrals and support:  1-800-safe (7233) or tty 1-800 787-3224.