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Remedies in place to stop domestic violence

Legal recourse is available to Massachusetts victims of domestic violence. An understanding of the legal definition of abuse and the remedies afforded by the courts may provide protection from abusive relationships. Some requirements are placed on police and prosecutors that may help promote victim safety by disrupting abuse patterns. The law provides several ways of mitigating negative consequences for those reporting abuse as well.

The formal definition of domestic violence extends beyond physical violence to include abuse through neglect, economic control and any method of forcing involuntary sex. Under the law, any form of criminal activity carried out by one family member against another may constitute abuse.

When a victim calls police to report domestic violence, the responding officer must make an arrest if there is probable cause of the incident having taken place in the preceding four hours. With restraining order violations, the violator is arrested immediately. Once an arrest is made and charges filed, only the prosecutor can drop the case if approval is obtained from a judge. In the interim, victims may be able to receive protection in the forms of custody and visitation modification, restraining orders and a confidential address. Financial hardship caused by domestic violence may also be remedied by a civil court.

Spousal abuse and domestic abuse after a divorce may leave the victim in emotional distress and feeling powerless. The problem may appear even more hopeless when the financial well-being and safety of children are involved. Victims of threats, stalking, emotional abuse and assault all have options for ending what can be a terrifying and debilitating situation. A family law attorney may be able to answer questions and outline a plan of action for addressing abusive behavior and possible repercussions.

Source: Findlaw, "Massachusetts Domestic Violence Laws", September 08, 2014

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