By Chelsea Farrell, Esq.
Let’s shed light to the impact of domestic abuse and continue to advocate for victims of intimate partner violence. It is no secret that leaving a battering partner may be one of the most dangerous times in the relationship. This month is Domestic Violence Awareness Month and as a firm, we strive to stand up for those that are struggling to reach for safety and support.
According to the United Nations, Domestic Violence (DV) is defined as a pattern of behavior in any relationship that is used to gain or maintain power and control over an intimate partner.* Abuse by the perpetrator goes to the specific behaviors of this person that aid them in gaining that control and/or power. When one thinks of abuse, usually that first thought goes to physical touching (hitting, striking, punching, pushing, etc.), but abuse can look very different and is no less impactful. Abuse can be not only physical, but verbal, emotional, sexual, cultural, or financial.
There are recourses one can take to seek help and support. Among the many, there are local shelters, domestic violence support groups, hotlines, and a domestic violence officer specific to your local police station that can assist you and your family. In addition, attorneys can also help advocate for you and your safety through orders of the Court.
Navigating the legal system while trying to process the more intimate details of the situation can be challenging. Should you feel at imminent risk for your or your children’s safety, filing a restraining order against the abuser is imperative. To obtain an emergency ex-parte order, meaning an emergency order without notice to the abuser, you can go to the local police station (if outside of business hours) or to the District Court or Probate and Family Court near your place of residence. There, you will fill out an affidavit stating the facts and circumstances that have occurred that lead you to feel at imminent risk for your safety. A judge will then determine whether there is an immediate need for an order and if granted, you will be given usually a ten-day order with a further hearing date. At this ten-day hearing, the abuser has a right to be heard and can contest the current order. These hearings can be brief, or they can lead to a full evidentiary hearing where each side can produce evidence to support their allegations and claims. Should the order be granted after this hearing, it is usually a further order of six months to a year prior to coming back into Court for another hearing.
At any stage of the aforementioned, you have the ability to be represented by Counsel to help you though this process. Our firm, headed by Melissa Levine-Piro, who has a background in Domestic Violence advocacy, and one of the many other attorneys, are willing to assist you in any stage of the restraining order or divorce process. Feel free to call at 978-637-2048 with any questions regarding your domestic relations legal matters. We understand the danger and the challenge of this process, but we will do everything we can to help you though this situation.