Being a victim of emotional or physical abuse can be a devastating and terrifying experience. In many cases, the best way to protect yourself if you are a victim of abuse is to first find a safe location, and second to request a protective order. Here’s what you should know about requesting a protective order in Massachusetts, including reasons to request a protective order, how to request a protective order, and how a Massachusetts family law attorney can help.
Reasons to Request a Protective Order in MA
A protective order, also called a restraining order, an abuse prevention order, or a 209A order, is a type of civil order. This type of order can be used to order an abuser to stay away from a petitioner (victim), surrender any firearms, vacate a shared home, and refrain from abusing the victim. Requesting a protective order is appropriate when a spouse, family member, household member, or person whom you are dating or have a child in common with is:
- Stalking you
- Harassing you
- Threatening you
- Forcing you to engage in unwanted sexual relations
- Physically abusing you
It is important to request a protective order if you are in danger or believe that you may be in danger in the future. A protective order can protect you and your minor children, and can also provide you with temporary custody of your children.
How to Request a Protective Order in Massachusetts
If you are a victim of abuse, you can request an abuse prevention order by visiting any probate and family court, district court, or superior court in the state. If it is after hours, you can go directly to the police station nearest to you and request an emergency order.
An emergency order can be issued without a hearing, and is a temporary order. After a hearing takes place, the order will last for a longer amount of time. At the hearing, you will be asked to present evidence of abuse and grounds for the order; the defendant (abuser) will have the opportunity to present their own evidence. If a protective order is violated, it is a criminal offense.
Get the Help You Need
It can be difficult to leave someone who is abusive. Sometimes, the signs of abuse can be difficult to recognize at first, and an abuser may initially be very charming. As time goes on, though, an abusive person may engage in verbal abuse, could hit things or break objects, could exhibit extreme jealousy or an explosive temper, and may try to isolate or control the victim. The idea of leaving an abuser may be accompanied by fear, worries about finances, feelings of guilt and low self-esteem, exhaustion, and other anxieties. Your attorney can refer you to resources to help you process the decision of leaving while providing legal support.
To learn more about your rights when you’re a victim of abuse and how to file a request for a protective order, call our Massachusetts family law attorney at (617) 903-8955 today or send us a message at your convenience. Attorney Heather M. Ward will advocate for you.