Domestic violence is a public health issue impacting thousands of families and individuals yearly. According to Respond, a domestic violence advocacy group, “1 in 4 women and 1 in 7 men will experience domestic violence in their lifetime. For trans or gender non-conforming folks, this number jumps to 54%.” 

Given the prevalence of these physical and psychological issues in our society and the legal ramifications of such events, it is a good idea to take a closer look at domestic violence’s legal impact on survivors and abusers. 

man grabbing woman's arm in a domestic dispute

The Legal Definition of Abuse In Massachusetts 

According to Massachusetts General Law Chapter 265 §13M and the Massachusetts Abuse Prevention Act “abuse” is defined as the occurrence of one or more of the following acts between family or household members:

  • attempting to cause physical harm
  • causing physical harm
  • placing fear of immediate serious physical harm or
  • forcing sexual relations due to force, threat, or duress

Victims can not only have their abuser charged criminally but also apply through a civil proceeding for a restraining order. If a victim does not qualify for an abuse prevention order, they may qualify for a harassment prevention order.

Types of Domestic Abuse 

In understanding criminal charges of domestic abuse, it is important to note that there are several types of abuse that the court may be referring to in your case. 

Emotional or Verbal Abuse 

This type of abuse includes a wide variety of behaviors and usually includes making a person feel bad about themselves. Behaviors may include gaslighting, mocking, name-calling, humiliation tactics, and harsh criticism. 

Sexual Abuse 

This domestic violence type includes non-consensual sex acts such as forced sex, withholding birth control, or hurting the person during sex. 

Psychological Abuse 

Psychological abuse includes any behavior that is used to control, isolate, or frighten the other person. It may include threats to harm themselves, children, or others. 

Physical Abuse 

This is what most people think of as domestic abuse including hitting, kicking, punching, pushing, choking, or using physical force against a partner or family member. 

Technological & Financial Abuse 

These two forms of abuse include controlling or intimidating someone using money or finances or technology such as social media, tracking software or other online apps. 

If any of these examples sound familiar you may be in an abusive relationship. To get help either as a survivor or someone who is trying to get help for their abusive behaviors call the National Domestic Violence line at 1-800-799-7233. 

If you are being charged with domestic violence and need legal assistance contact our office for fast and professional legal support.