What is Domestic Violence?
Domestic Violence or family violence is the abuse of power or control . It is behavior used by one person to control another through force or threats. A batterer makes a choice to strike, hit, kick, punch or threaten the victim.
Domestic violence includes physical and sexual attacks and threats. These violent acts are criminal and the batterer can be prosecuted for committing them. The acts are a means of controlling the victim's thoughts, feelings and behavior. The violence does not lessen over time. The threats and / or beatings generally happen more often with time, last longer and cause greater physical injuries.
Emotional abuse and insulting words are almost always part of the abuse pattern, but are not considered criminal acts. The wounds from these injuries, however , may be more difficult to heal.
Domestic violence is not caused by or provoked by the actions or inaction's of the victim. Domestic violence is not directly caused by alcohol or drug abuse, depression, lack of money, lack of a job, mental illness or abuse as a child. However, existing problems often create additional stress in a relationship and may increase the risk of violence. Many abusers blame the victim or other things for their violent acts and do not take responsibility for the abusive behavior. There is never an excuse for violence.
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Do I Need a Restraining Order?
A restraining order, also called an order of protection, or abuse prevention order, can be a powerful tool for increasing safety of victims of sexual assault, rape, domestic violence, and stalking and their children.
A restraining is an important legal option for victims and survivors. It is most effective in combination with a larger confidential plan for safety that can be developed in consultation with a trained advocate from a local sexual assault or domestic violence program. Whether or not you may feel that physical danger is imminent, consulting with a trained advocate can provide you with important information and support. For instance, an advocate can talk to you about safety considerations, necessary qualifications, court processes, possible relief, resources and other considerations before seeking a protection order. Services are free and confidential. No one from a local sexual assault or domestic violence program will force you to do anything.
Courts have the authority to issue an order for the assailant (abuser) to no longer abuse you and/or have no further contact with you. A restraining order is a civil order, which means that it in itself does not carry criminal penalties. But if any of the provisions of the order are violated, then there is a criminal penalty AND the police have a right to arrest the abuser.
District, superior, and probate courts can issue two different types of restraining orders in Massachusetts.
- 209A Abuse Prevention Orders is generally applicable when there has been some form of abuse from a family or household member, or someone with whom you have a substantial dating relationship.
- 258E Harassment Prevention Orders is available in cases of sexual violence and stalking and is applicable when the parties are not known to each other or have not been in a relationship
During times when courts are closed, the Holliston Police Department can assist you with the process of applying for a 209A Restraining Order. If an 209A is obtained through the Police Department, it must be renewed in court, upon the next open day of business.
Children Exposed to Batterers
Children and teens are exposed to sexual and domestic violence in a number of ways. It can be a terrifying and confusing experience if you hear threats or jealous accusations, are aware of tension in your house, or witness actual incidents of physical and/or sexual abuse of one of your parents, a sibling, other family member, or friend.
You May Feel While not everyone reacts the same way when exposed to violence,
- You might notice changes in your focus at school or interactions with your friends.
- You may feel confused, alone, afraid, and unsure what to do next.
- A lot of times children wonder if they’ve done something to cause the abuse.
- You may worry about other family members who are younger or more vulnerable than you.
- Along with these feelings and worries, it’s also not unusual to still love a family member who is abusive but hate the violent and abusive behavior.
Things to Know
First things first: You deserve to live in a safe and stable home. The violence is not your fault. It’s not your job to solve adult problems. The person being abusive or violent is the only one who is responsible for the violence.
It’s important that you talk to someone about what you are witnessing in your home and how it makes you feel. You can call your local domestic violence program or other resources listed in this web site to ask questions and get support for yourself.
Just because you are living in a home where there is domestic violence does not mean that when you grow up you will be either a victim or a perpetrator of abuse.
If you are in immediate danger call 9-1-1. Don’t place yourself in danger by trying to intervene in a violent episode. Rather, get to a safe place and call for help.
"I spoke out to put a face to the issue for the millions of women, men and children who suffer in silence and to say that you are not alone. Help is available."
~ Ayanna Pressley, Boston City Councilor