Domestic Violence

Domestic Violence or family violence is the abuse of power or control. It is behavior used by one person to control another through force or threats. A batterer makes a choice to strike, hit, kick, punch or threaten the victim.

Domestic violence includes physical and sexual attacks and threats. These violent acts are criminal and the batterer can be prosecuted for committing them. The acts are a means of controlling the victim's thoughts, feelings and behavior. The violence does not lessen over time. The threats and/or beatings generally happen more often with time, last longer and cause greater physical injuries.

Emotional abuse and insulting words are almost always part of the abuse pattern, but are not considered criminal acts. The wounds from these injuries, however, may be more difficult to heal.

Never an Excuse for Violence

Domestic violence is not caused by or provoked by the actions or inaction's of the victim. Domestic violence is not directly caused by: 

  • Abuse as a Child
  • Alcohol or Drug Abuse
  • Depression
  • Lack of a Job
  • Lack of Money
  • Mental Illness

However, existing problems often create additional stress in a relationship and may increase the risk of violence. Many abusers blame the victim or other things for their violent acts and do not take responsibility for the abusive behavior. There is never an excuse for violence.

Chapter 209A, the Massachusetts Abuse Prevention Act

Chapter 209A, the Massachusetts Abuse Prevention Act, defines abuse as:

  • Actual physical abuse
  • An attempt to harm another
  • Placing another in fear of serious physical harm
  • Causing another to engage in sexual relations by force, threat of force or duress

Your Risk of Harm

Statistically, the most dangerous time for victim is when leaving the batterer. The abuser may feel he is losing control and become dangerously angry. Take steps to protect yourself from abuse or punishment from your abuser. Please trust your instincts. If you are afraid that something may happen, take your feelings seriously and protect yourself. You know your situation better than anyone else.

Additional Information

Do you need to speak to someone about domestic violence? Don't hesitate to call us at 781-871-3890.


This information is provided by:
Commonwealth of Massachusetts
Office of the Attorney General
1 Ashburton Pl
One Ashburton Place
Boston, MA 02108