Domestic Violence Survivors: How to Seek Legal Help & Stay Safe

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The past few weeks have been unprecedented and we are all faced with a lot of uncertainty. Schools, restaurants and retail shops are closed. Graduations, concerts, festivals and races have been canceled or postponed. Social distancing has become the norm. Staying at home is not safe for everyone and there are ways to get help if you’re living with an abusive person.

Currently, courts in Massachusetts are currently closed to non-emergency matters. They will hear emergency petitions, and your safety is an emergency. Contact your district court and the clerk will give you instructions on how to file. (click here to find your district court).

All hearings will take place by telephone or video conference. The judge who hears your petition can issue a temporary emergency restraining order at that time, even if it is after-hours, rather than making you wait until the next day. For the most up-to-date information about whether your court is open, check here: Court System Response to COVID-19.

Your safety is an emergency.”

If you are in fear of sustaining serious bodily injury, a restraining order is likely available to you. It will allow law enforcement to remove the abusive person from your home and you can stay in your own home, safely.

If you apply for a restraining order, a judge will determine whether you have a reasonable fear of imminent serious bodily injury, and she will issue a temporary restraining order. The Defendant will then be served with the restraining order and notified of a hearing at which both parties are present. At this hearing, the judge can issue a year-long restraining order.

Please seek help immediately if you are in an abusive situation or fear for your safety. There is someone available to talk to you 24/7 at the National Domestic Violence Hotline. Visit their website, or call 1-800-799-SAFE (7233). The Domestic Violence Services Network is a local organization, based in Concord, that is available to help you if you are feeling unsafe or to help you if you are trying to support someone who is in an unsafe situation. Call 1-888-399-6111, to speak with someone.

Your safety is important!

Rebecca Neale

Principal Attorney

As an attorney, Rebecca represents people in divorce, custody, and guardianship proceedings. She also advises people about end-of-life decisions and creates estate plans tailored to their needs and goals. Read more about Rebecca’s Experience here.
Bedford Family Law

Bedford, Massachusetts

Let's Work Together

When you reach out to Bedford Family Lawyer for a consultation, we will ask, “What is your goal?” We want to know how we can get you from where you are now to where you want to be, and we will show you the different paths to get there. 

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