Domestic Violence Lawyers in Westborough Helping Clients Understand their Options
Domestic violence of any kind is not ok, and you have every right to protect yourself and take action to get the abuse to stop. Unfortunately, domestic violence is common, but you have options and can take steps to change your situation.
Domestic violence comes in many different forms, and the abuser can be a loved one, a family member, a current or former co-resident, a parent of the same child, or someone related to you by blood or through marriage. Abuse happens slowly; many times, the victims themselves don’t even realize it is happening until a pattern is established. By this time, there is typically psychological damage that has been done, making the abuse even harder to define or protect yourself against.
Domestic violence is defined as “a pattern of many behaviors directed at achieving and maintaining power and control over an intimate partner, such as physical violence, emotional abuse, isolation of the victim, economic abuse, intimidation, and coercion and threats,” according to the American Bar Association.
Both women and men experience abuse, and many victims experience multiple forms. Abuse knows no bounds; it’s not selective of race, financial position, or any other characteristic. It is important to protect yourself, be vigilant of those around you as well, and know that there are actions that can be taken in order to get the abuse to stop.
If you feel you or a loved one has become a victim of abuse, please don’t hesitate to call. We have a trusted team of attorneys that have multiple years of experience dealing with domestic violence cases and other family law matters, so you don’t have to go through it alone. Call us at 774-214-2137 today to learn more about how we can help you.
What Constitutes Domestic Violence?
When some think of domestic violence, they may think only of the physical violence that we see depicted in movies or on TV. There are several categories that domestic violence encompasses, however.
Emotional abuse occurs when an abuser uses verbal or non-verbal tactics over a period of time that often result in negative psychological effects such as depression, anxiety, or PTSD. Verbal abuse can be yelling or screaming at victims, and non-verbal abuse can be things like neglecting the victim, isolating them from others, or terrorizing them.
Financial abuse consists of actions that limit access to finances with the intent to control the victim. Hiding money (either physically or hiding access to bank accounts, for instance) to keep the victim from having a way out of the situation is a common form of financial abuse.
Isolation is a form of control that is considered abuse as well. Controlling what someone does, who they speak to, or where they go in order to keep them from their support systems is a form of abuse as well.
Elder abuse is the neglect of a person 65 or older and can involve physical, emotional, or financial abuse and exploitation.
Domestic sexual abuseoccurs when the abuser forces or demands sexual acts of their partner against their will. Incest or rape is also included in this category to cover the abuse of children.
Stalking is also another category of domestic violence and consists of repeated harassment or threatening of an individual, causing emotional distress. This can be communicated through email or text or by showing up at a workplace or a home unwanted and refusing to stop.
What Can I Do to Get the Abuse to Stop?
You are not alone, and you have options to address this behavior. Courts in Massachusetts have the authority to issue an Abuse Prevention Order, or a 209A, which requires the abuser to stop a specific behavior such as stalking, emotional abuse, or physical abuse. You can file one of these against your spouse, blood relative or relative by marriage, former spouse, someone you have or had a significant relationship with, or a current or former household member.
You can make specific requests to the court based on your specific needs and your situation. They can be things such as requesting temporary custody of children and the abuser not allowed contact with them, requesting that the abuser is to leave your residence and not return, or other safety measures. If an Abuse Prevention Order isn’t the right fit, you may be able to utilize a Harassment Prevention Order to protect yourself.
Once a protective order has been filed, the police are able to enforce the Abuse Prevention Order, and violations will result in fines, paying expenses incurred by the victim,jail time, and more. There is also the option to utilize a GPS tracking device that is worn by the abuser to enforce a ruling requiring them to stay out of the geographic zone location where the victim resides or works, as well.
If an Abuse Prevention Order isn’t the right fit, you may be able to utilize a Harassment Prevention Order to protect yourself. Any person can file these if they feel they are a victim, and it does not matter if the person harassing you is a stranger or someone you know. There are two options with the Harassment Prevention orders: one is a temporary option that provides protection for 10 days, and another option provides protection for up to one year.
Penalties or criminal charges for Domestic Violence can vary greatly, but when abuse is proven, there can be potential jail time, fines, or both, and these penalties become more serious based on several factors. Courts look at who the victim is to the abuser, what the pattern or history of abuse is, whether or not an Abuse Prevention Order has already been issued for this abuser, whether or not a weapon was involved, and more.
How Can I Get Help Immediately?
O’Connor Family Law Firm has a legal team standing by, ready to receive your call and help you to take action against your abuser. You are not alone. We have a trusted and experienced team of attorneys who have helped many other victims to protect themselves and regain control of their lives. We look forward to helping you, too. Call us today at 774-214-2137 to speak confidentially to a skilled and compassionate attorney trained to help you with the next steps.