Dating Violence and Domestic Violence

There are no crimes called “dating violence” or “domestic violence” in Massachusetts; however, there are related crimes of assault, battery, and abuse. “Abuse” is defined in Massachusetts General Laws (M.G.L.) chapter 209A § 1 as “the occurrence of one or more of the following acts between family or household members:

(a)    attempting to cause or causing physical harm;
(b)    placing another in fear of imminent serious physical harm;
(c)    causing another to engage involuntarily in sexual relations by force, threat or duress.”

The phrase “family or household members” is defined as “persons who:

(a)    are or were married to one another;
(b)    are or were residing together in the same household;
(c)    are or were related by blood or marriage;
(d)    [have] a child in common regardless of whether they have ever married or lived together; or
(e)    are or have been in a substantive dating or engagement relationship, which shall be adjudged by district, probate, or Boston municipal courts [in] consideration of the following factors:

(1) the length of time of the relationship; (2) the type of relationship; (3) the frequency of interaction between the parties; and (4) if the relationship has been terminated by either person, the length of time elapsed since the termination of the relationship.”