There are no guarantees that the violence will stop because the abuser attends a certified batterer's intervention program. Many abusers drop out of programs or do not comply with the requirements, or only reduce their abuse temporarily. If the judge requires attendance as part of a sentence, dropping out may mean the defendant/abuser may have to serve jail time. The abuser must want to change the abusive behavior and work hard at making those changes. Promises to change, flowers and apologies are not enough. You deserve to be safe and free from abuse.
Your Risk of Harm
Statistically, the most dangerous time for the 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.
Suggestions for your Protection
Develop a safety plan that includes an escape plan for you and your children should a violent incident occur. During an incident, try to move away from an area or room where access to weapons might increase your risk, such as the kitchen, or where you can be trapped or easily injured.
- Call the police or leave the house as soon as possible after an abusive incident. The police will respond and stay with you until you are safe or in a safe place. The police will also help you seek medical treatment if needed. If you feel you may be in danger, dial the police number and hang up before it rings so that the redial button will automatically call the police if you need them quickly.
- Be alert when leaving the courthouse. If you have any reason to believe your abuser may be waiting for you, please ask someone in the District Attorney's Office or Court Advocate to help. A police officer or a court officer may be able to escort you to your car.
- Guns or weapons will be ordered turned over to the police by the judge, along with any license to carry the guns and firearms identification card. Inform the police of any guns/weapons the abuser may keep in the house.
- Consider changing the locks on your home. The judge can order the abuser to turn over the keys to your home and/or your car. Keep an extra set of keys in a safe place.
- Inform your neighbors if a 209A order is in place. Encourage them to call the police if they see or suspect that something is wrong.
- Make copies of important papers and keep them in a safe place. Make a list of the things you need to take with you (birth/medical records, marriage license, check/ bank books, credit cards, medications).
- Keep emergency money and extra clothes for yourself and your children in a safe place or with someone you trust. Include a few toys and favorite things for the children.
- Keep the victim's service agency number handy for emergency shelters and for support groups.; You do not have to leave the abuser or have a 209A Order to attend the support groups. Information and support in making decisions are important.
- Get medical attention as you may be injured much more seriously than you realize. Go to a hospital emergency room or your private doctor as soon as possible for treatment. Ask for a copy of the treatment record.
This information is provided by:
- Commonwealth of Massachusetts
Office of the Attorney General
1 Ashburton Place
Boston, MA 02108