A restraining order, also referred to as a 209A protective order, is an option to consider for those seeking safety from an abuser.
The Massachusetts Executive Office of Public Safety and Security (EOPPS) notes that restraining orders are only a piece of a larger safety plan. It is important to make safety plans in addition to obtaining a restraining order.
Call our local domestic violence agencies -- NELCWIT at (413)-772-0806 in Greenfield; (978)-544-9857 in Orange/Athol or Toll Free (888)-249-0806* or Safe Passage at (413) 586-5066 in Northampton or Toll Free (888) 3435-5282 -- for information about shelters and services. As always, in an emergency call 9-1-1 for a police officer to come to your aid.
For additional information regarding safety planning, please visit the Jane Doe, Inc – The Massachusetts Coalition Against Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence website
EOPSS provides the following information on restraining orders in the form of commonly asked questions.
The law for restraining orders (209A) covers those people who are or have been in any of the following relationships:
- A substantive dating relationship
- Living together in the same household
- Engaged or married
- Have a child together
- Related by blood or marriage
How Does A Judge Decide Whether to Issue the Order?
Under the law, the judge needs to determine:
- If the relationship is covered by the law, and
- If the victim has shown "a substantial likelihood of immediate danger of abuse"
How to Get a Restraining Order
Go to the District Court Clerk's Office at the courthouse in your community and ask for a SAFEPLAN advocate. You will need to complete an affidavit requesting a restraining order.
- You will then need to go before a judge, who will ask you questions about your safety and has the authority to grant a temporary (10 day) restraining order at that time. You will be given a copy to carry with you at all times and a copy to file with the police.
- The court will tell the police that the order has been issued and the police will then serve the abuser with the order. You should tell the court the whereabouts of the abuser. If there is a vacate order, the police can enforce this by being at your home as the abuser leaves.
- Within 10 days you will attend another hearing where your abuser may be present to tell his/her side of the story. This may be very difficult, and it helps to have an advocate present for support. You will tell your story again, and at this time the judge can extend the 209A protective order for up to a year.
- To get an emergency protection order on holidays, nights, or weekends, call the police. They will contact an emergency response judge. If the abuser violates this order, call the police immediately. Violation of this order is a criminal offense, and penalties can include jail terms.
A Restraining Order Can Do More Than Protect You
Any of the following provisions that apply to your situation may be added to the basic order. (Note: The initial order lasts up to ten days but can be extended for one year.)
- Restraining Order - Your abuser must not come near you or abuse you again. In Massachusetts, all restraining orders require that the abuser surrender any firearms and licenses to carry a firearm.
- Vacate Order - Your abuser must move out of the shared residence.
- Child Support Order - You will receive temporary support for your children.
- Custody Order - You will receive temporary custody of your children.
- Restitution Order - You will receive repayment for lost wages, medical expenses, or other costs and damages.