Definitions of Domestic Violence - Massachusetts

Date:

Defined in Domestic Violence Civil Laws

Citation: Ann. Laws Ch. 209A, § 1

'Abuse' means the occurrence of one or more of the following acts between family or household members:

  • Attempting to cause or causing physical harm
  • Placing another in fear of imminent serious physical harm
  • Causing another to engage involuntarily in sexual relations by force, threat, or duress

Defined in Child Abuse Reporting and Child Protection Laws

This issue is not addressed in the statutes reviewed.

Defined in Criminal Laws

Citation: Ann. Laws Ch. 265, § 13M

Whoever commits an assault or assault and battery on a family or household member shall be punished by imprisonment in the house of correction for no more than 2½ years, by a fine of no more than $5,000, or both such fine and imprisonment.

Persons Included in the Definition

Citation: Ann. Laws Ch. 209A, § 1; Ch. 265, § 13M

In civil law: Family or household members' includes persons who meet the following:

  • Are or were married to one another
  • Are or were residing together in the same household
  • Are or were related by blood or marriage
  • Have a child in common regardless of whether they have ever married or lived together
  • Are or have been in a substantive dating or engagement relationship

A substantive dating relationship shall be adjudged by district, probate, or Boston municipal courts in consideration of the following factors:

  • The length of time of the relationship
  • The type of relationship
  • The frequency of interaction between the parties
  • If the relationship has been terminated by either person, the length of time elapsed since the termination of the relationship

In criminal law: A 'family or household members' shall mean persons who meet the following:

  • Are or were married to one another
  • Have a child in common regardless of whether they have ever married or lived together
  • Are or have been in a substantive dating or engagement relationship

The trier of fact shall determine whether a relationship is substantive by considering the following factors:

  • The length of time of the relationship
  • The type of relationship
  • The frequency of interaction between the parties
  • Whether the relationship was terminated by either person
  • The length of time elapsed since the termination of the relationship