Domestic Violence & Dating Violence

The STCC Police Department can assist you in obtaining a Restraining Order or a Harassment Prevention Order. 

What is Domestic and Dating Violence?

The Massachusetts General Laws define domestic abuse as the occurrence of one or more of the following acts between family or household members:

  1. Attempting to cause or causing physical harm
  2. Placing another in fear of imminent serious physical harm
  3. Causing another to engage involuntarily in sexual relations by force, threat or duress

Family or household members are defined as persons who:

  1. Are or were married to one another;
  2. Are or were residing together in the same household;
  3. Are or were related by blood or marriage;
  4. Have a child in common regardless of whether they have ever married or lived together; or
  5. Are or have been in a substantive dating or engagement relationship, which shall be adjudged by district, probate or municipal courts in consideration of the following factors:
    1. The length of time of the relationship;
    2. The type of relationship;
    3. The frequency of interaction between the parties; and
    4. If the relationship has been terminated by either person, the length of time elapsed since the termination of the relationship.

Summary of Notice of Rights for Abuse Victims

As a victim, the Commonwealth has afforded you certain rights. The Abused Person's Notice of Rights outlines your rights as a victim of domestic violence as provided by Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 209A.

In accordance with Chapter 209A, whenever any law officer has reason to believe that a family or household member has been abused or is in danger of being abused, such officer shall use all reasonable means to prevent further abuse. The officer shall take, but not be limited to the following action:

  1. remain on the scene of where said abuse occurred or was in danger of occurring as long as the officer has reason to believe that at least one of the parties involved would be in immediate physical danger without the presence of a law officer. This shall include, but not be limited to remaining in the dwelling for a reasonable period of time;
  2. assist the abused person in obtaining medical treatment necessitated by an assault, which may include driving the victim to the emergency room of the nearest hospital, or arranging for appropriate transportation to a health care facility, notwithstanding any law to the contrary;
  3. assist the abused person in locating and getting to a safe place; including but not limited to a designated meeting place for a shelter or a family member's or friend's residence. The officer shall consider the victim's preference in this regard and what is reasonable under all the circumstances;
  4. give such person immediate and adequate notice of his or her rights. Such notice shall consist of handingsaid person a copy of the statement which follows below and reading the same to said person.

    Where said person's native language is not English, the statement shall be then provided in said person's native language whenever possible.

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

    1. an order restraining your attacker from abusing you;
    2. an order directing your attacker to leave your household, building or workplace;
    3. an order awarding you custody of a minor child;
    4. an order directing your attacker to pay support for you or any minor child in your custody, if the attacker has a legal obligation of support; and
    5. 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 or 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 remain present 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.

  5. assist such person by activating the emergency judicial system when the court is closed for business;
  6. inform the victim that the abuser will be eligible for bail and may be promptly released; and
  7. arrest any person a law officer witnesses or has probable cause to believe has violated a temporary or permanent vacate, restraining, or no-contact order or judgment issued pursuant to section eighteen, thirty-four B or thirty-four C of chapter two hundred and eight, section thirty-two of chapter two hundred and nine, section three, three B, three C, four or five of this chapter, or sections fifteen or twenty of chapter two hundred and nine C or similar protection order issued by another jurisdiction.

    When there are no vacate, restraining, or no-contact orders or judgments in effect, arrest shall be the preferred response whenever an officer witnesses or has probable cause to believe that a person:

    1. has committed a felony;
    2. has committed a misdemeanor involving abuse as defined in section one of this chapter;
    3. has committed an assault and battery in violation of section thirteen A of chapter two hundred and sixty-five.

Who can issue a valid restraining order (209A order)?

A 209A order may be issued by the superior, probate and family, district or municipal court departments of the trial Court having venue over the plaintiff's residence. When the petitioner is in a dating relationship, only the district, probate, or municipal courts may issue an order.

If the plaintiff has left a residence or household to avoid abuse, the plaintiff has the option of filing the order at the court having venue over the prior residence or at the court having venue over the new residence.

What about confidentiality?

Your residential and workplace address may be kept confidential (unless you choose to request an order for the defendant to stay away from those addresses). 

You can ask the judge to order that any part of the court file be impounded or kept secret from the public and others who might otherwise have access.  To ask the judge for an impoundment order, you may ask the Victim Advocate attached to the District Attorney's Office for assistance filing a Motion for Impoundment.

Local Resources

The Court has trained domestic violence advocates that are there to assist you with completing the paperwork. If court is not in session, the STCC Police Department can assist you with obtaining an emergency restraining order. If you are a victim of abuse and need treatment or referral, call toll-free: SafeLink, a Massachusetts statewide multilingual, 24-hour service hotline at 1-877-785-2020. More information and resources can be found at the Massachusetts Office for Victim Assistance website.

24-Hour Domestic Violence / Sexual Assault Resources

If you, or someone that you know, is questioning is this abuse? the Hampden County District Attorney's Office encourages you to explore the sites below or come to the Domestic Violence Intervention Office to have your questions answered.

Hampden County District Attorney's Office

YWCA: Springfield

Womanshelter/ Companeras:
Holyoke 413-536-1628

Safe Passage: Northampton

Gay Men's Domestic Violence Project:


Information on Safety Planning

Domestic Violence Information