Dear Friends, Colleagues and Clients:

If I have thought this once over the past two weeks, I have thought about this hundreds of times: We are living in a precarious, often frightening, time. For many, it means self-quarantining and dealing with the resultant financial, psychological and emotional stressors. For others, top that off with children home from school and young adults returning to live with parents. Go one layer further, and spouses, who formerly did not see much of each other because they worked away from home, may now find trivial faults in the other magnified. I have faith that all these issues, with cooler heads prevailing, will become manageable and not dangerous or threatening.

My overwhelming concern today is for those folks living with domestic violence in their household. Domestic violence, like this virus swirling all around the earth, does not discriminate. How does one stay out of harm’s way? There is no easy answer. Abuse victims have meager ways of managing. Nevertheless, being confined, as we are at this time, can easily intensify volatile situations.

Gratefully, the topic of domestic violence is no longer trapped in the closet. For those who have the courage to admit it exists in his or her life, steps can be taken to get out of the target zone. That in and of itself constitutes a major achievement when one is in such danger, be it physical, psychological or emotional harm. I remember years ago (many!), when I brought my first case of domestic violence to the attention of the court. This was before the days of the now commonly known 209A, the statute which offers protection for victims of abuse. I was appalled when the judge stated he saw no bruises and dismissed the case.

Fast forward to today. There are support groups, batterers’ programs, and hotlines for victims of abuse. Often abuse rises to the surface during times of stress. We are in such a time. The stay-at-home order easily places the abused right back in the target range.

Common reactions of victims such as begging for forgiveness, although there is nothing for the abused to forgive, attempting to barricade oneself into a safe spot, or even thinking, if I allow it to happen, it will be over and I will have some respite, never work. Such tactics only serve to exacerbate the harm.

Now is not the time to refuse to reach out to the police, for fear of repercussions.

Simply put: if you are afraid, call the police. The police are the quickest means for protection and action, and potentially, pursuing a temporary restraining order. The police may remove the aggressor from the home immediately if there is a real concern that those in the home are in danger, particularly if there is evidence of physical abuse. In that case, the aggressor may be asked to leave, at least for the night. During that time, the victim will likely be encouraged by the police to seek a restraining order.

The Probate Court is currently closed, except for emergency matters. However, the Massachusetts Trial Court has issued special orders to keep residents safe, and regardless of the hour, there is always a judge available in the event of domestic abuse. The police will assist in contacting the appropriate court. Then, a hearing with a judge, either by telephone or if possible, by video conference, would be scheduled. To accommodate the current restrictive climate, when issued by the emergency judge, during hours the court is closed, temporary restraining orders are now valid for ten days.

In times like what we are all experiencing now, it is imperative that we be good to ourselves, our families and loved ones. Stopping the abuse serves to take the victim, the children of the victim and even the abuser out of harm’s way.

While K&G is working remotely, we are up and running. Please reach out to us to connect. If you are new to K&G, understand that when you become a client of K&G, you too, are part of the K&G TEAM and family. With a wealth of experience, we are a here to assist and guide you in alleviating stressful circumstances.

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