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Legal Information: Massachusetts

Restraining Orders

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Laws current as of December 14, 2023

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:

  • attempting to cause you physical harm;
  • causing you physical harm;
  • placing you in fear of immediate serious physical harm; or
  • causing you to have sexual relations against your will (involuntarily) due to force, threat, or duress.1

Note: If you don’t qualify for an abuse prevention order, you may qualify for a harassment prevention order. For more information, see our Harassment Prevention Order section.

1 M.G.L.A 209A § 1