Legal Information: Massachusetts

Restraining Orders

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November 28, 2016

What is the legal definition of abuse in Massachusetts?

This section defines abuse for the purposes of getting an abuse protection order.

The Massachusetts Abuse Prevention Act defines "abuse" as the occurrence of one or more of the following acts between "family or household members":

  • Actual or attempted physical abuse;
  • Placing another in fear of serious physical harm;
  • Causing another to engage involuntarily in sexual relations by force, threat of force or duress.*

"Family or household members" include:

  • A spouse or former spouse;
  • Someone you live with or used to live with;
  • A relative by blood or marriage;
  • The parent of your child;
  • A person you have or had a substantial dating relationship with.**

To read the exact wording of the law, please see "Chapter 209A: Section 1: Definitions" on the MA Statutes page.

* M.G.L.A 209A § 1
** M.G.L.A 209A § 1