What is legal advocacy?
In some cases of sexual assault, complex legal questions arise making it confusing and scary to navigate the system alone.
Our well trained advocates can provide you with assistance and support as you engage with the criminal or civil legal system. They can accompany you in matters involving reporting the assault, pursuing criminal charges against the perpetrator, obtaining and enforcing personal protection orders and other legal matters related to the sexual assault. Legal advocates can also help with finding quality legal services through referrals.
Request a legal advocate
How do I get a restraining order?
A Protection Order is a legal option for survivors of sexual violence. It can be part of a safety plan developed by you and an advocate but may not be the option for everyone. Courts have the authority to issue an order for the perpetrator to no longer have further contact with you. A restraining order is a civil order, and does not carry criminal penalties unless any of the provisions of the order are violated, then there is a criminal penalty including an arrest.
District, superior, and probate courts can issue two different types of restraining orders in Massachusetts:
209A Protective Orders
A 209A protective order is a court order that protects you from being abused by a member or former member of your household or family or someone you have been dating.
Protective orders are also called “restraining orders,” “abuse prevention orders,” or “209A’s.”
Chapter 258E allows a judge to issue a variety of types of court orders. A judge can order the defendant to not abuse or harass you, not contact you in any way, to stay away from your home or work, and/or to pay you money.
What is Victim Compensation?
Compensation for victims of violent crimes, and their families, is available through a
program mandated by MGL c.258C, and administered by the Office of the Attorney General’s
Victim Compensation and Assistance Division. The law provides survivors who have been sexually
assaulted in Massachusetts with a free forensic exam at a local Massachusetts hospital, regardless if
the crime is reported to law enforcement. The forensic sexual assault exam may be performed by a
Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE) or other medical provider.
The Victim Compensation Division may assist with physician and
hospital expenses, laboratory costs, ambulance transportation, medications prescribed or
administered at the time of the exam and aftercare deemed medically necessary. In addition, the fund
may compensate for costs related to obtaining testing for sexually transmitted diseases and
The application can be found here.
For survivors of sexual assault, the criminal justice system can feel overwhelming, confusing, and difficult to understand. The Massachusetts Victim Bill of Rights exists to help crime victims understand their rights.
The Victim Rights Law Center provides free, comprehensive legal services for sexual assault victims with legal issues in Massachusetts and Oregon in the areas of privacy, safety, housing, education, employment, immigration, LGBTQ-specific issues, criminal justice advocacy, and financial stability.
Phone: (617) 399-6720
Toll Free: (877) 758-8132
Legal assistance intake line: x19
Línea de admisión en español: x35
Fax: (617) 399-6722
115 Broad Street, 3rd Floor
Boston, MA 02110
A website to help you find practical information about your legal rights in Massachusetts.