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Relationship violence is never acceptable.

Posted by attorney Gregory Lee

All family members and persons in dating relationships have an absolute right to be free of violence or threat of violence, as well as unwanted sex. Massachusetts General Law Chapter 209A declares that “attempting to cause or causing physical harm," “placing another in fear of imminent serious physical harm," or “causing another to engage involuntarily in sexual relations by force, threat or duress," are all “abuse" when they come from “family or household members." All these forms of abuse are illegal.

If you are abused by a family or household member, seek help from the police and courts whether or not you can contact me. The police must help you seek a restraining order against an abuser at any time of the day or night. The police must help either party, male or female, and violate your civil rights if they fail to do so. Any Court can issue an order during the day. At night, judges are “on call," and can issue a restraining order over the telephone. The order can require a person to vacate the premises until the matter can be heard in court. When the matter is heard in court, the order can be extended for up to one year.

Violations of a Restraining Order are criminal acts, and can cause further arrests and prosecution. The police and District Attorneys’ office take these cases very seriously; no one wants to be accused of ignoring a cry for help and allowing someone to be seriously injured or die as a result.

Additional resources provided by the author

Getting Through Your Massachusetts Divorce or Paternity Case, by Gregory P. Lee, available through

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