There are many reasons why survivors of sexual assault may be hesitant to involve the police or legal system. An Advocate at A Safe Place is available 24/7 to discuss, on the phone or in person, the pros and cons of different options so that you can make the best decision for you. We can’t make a decision for you, but we can give you information so that you can make the most informed decision for yourself and we will support you in that decision.
Restraining Orders (209A) and Harassment Orders (258E)
The primary legal remedy available to victims of abuse is a Restraining Order (also called a Protective Order, an Abuse Prevention Order or a 209A Order, referring to the chapter in Massachusetts General Law). The purpose of a 209A is to protect someone from being abused by a family or household member, or someone with whom they have had a dating relationship. Unfortunately, this order is not an option in cases involving neighbors, acquaintances or many stalking or sexual assault cases.
In 2010, however, a new option became available in the form of Chapter 258E, otherwise known as a Harassment Order. A Harassment Order is similar to a Restraining Order in that it is designed to stop abuse or harassment and keep the perpetrator away from the victim, but it does not require a previous relationship between the two parties. This can be particularly helpful in stalking and sexual assault cases.
During business hours these orders are filed at the local District Court at 16 Broad Street and after business hours and on weekends they are filed at the local Police Department at 4 Fairgrounds Road. A Safe Place has advocates available 24/7 who can meet you, go over your options and assist you with filing the appropriate paperwork. You can arrange for an advocate to meet you at District Court or at the Police Department by calling our 24-hour hotline directly 508-228-2111 or by going to the specified locations and asking the court or police call A Safe Place.
Rape and sexual assault are against the law, regardless of your legal status. You do not need to be a citizen or legal resident to get a restraining or harassment order and you do not need to tell the police your immigration status.
For more information about the differences between the two kinds of orders, eligibility requirements and the process, please see the documents below: