Domestic violence is a significant problem across the country. Unfortunately, residents of Massachusetts are not immune from it. For those who are in abusive relationships, assistance is available to anyone who is ready escape it and move forward. Restraining orders can help end the violence and hold abusers accountable for their behavior.
In Massachusetts, there are actually a couple different kinds of restraining orders. There are those written for abuse prevention and those written for harassment prevention. Domestic violence comes in many forms — physical, emotional and verbal. An order or protection can be obtained to stop each of these behaviors.
An abuse prevention order is generally obtained if the abuse is committed by someone with whom the victim has a relationship. This can involve a family member, significant other or a roommate. If someone in that kind of position caused physical harm or induced fear of physical harm, an abuse prevention order can be sought.
A harassment prevention order, on the other hand, is not limited to abuse or harassment occurring within a specific relationship. If a random person is intentionally harassing another, if physical violence occurs or threats of physical violence are made, it may be possible to seek a harassment prevention order. Certain stipulations may apply as to how many times the harassment occurs before an order is granted, but that generally applies to cruel behavior rather than physical or sexual violence.
When it comes to families, restraining orders can help end the cycle of violence. This is certainly a good place to start when making the step to leave an abusive relationship and allows victims the ability to begin the process of reclaiming their lives. Those in Massachusetts who are ready to escape the abuse can seek assistance in obtaining an order of protection and, for those who are married, can take further legal steps to dissolve the relationship if desired.
Source: mass.gov, “Abuse Prevention Order vs. Harassment Prevention Order“, Accessed on Feb. 9, 2015