Domestic violence in Essex County refers to various crimes committed against a person by a family member, an intimate partner, or a relative. The offense includes physical violence and other systematic power and control like sexual violence, threats, and emotional abuse. Notably, domestic violence is not very different from assaults and other street crimes. The same acts that give rise to these crimes can also amount to domestic violence so far it is committed on a family or household member.
In 2019, Essex County recorded a total of 2,416 cases of domestic violence. About 3.1 reported victims of domestic violence per 1,000 residents in the county. Compared to the reports of the previous year, incidences of domestic violence rose by about 4%.
Punishments for domestic violence in Essex County are usually severe and may include incarceration, counseling, hefty fines, and various fees. Additionally, an offender may be required to forfeit all firearms or even lose custody of their children.
Residents can report incidences of domestic violence in Essex County by calling the Statewide Domestic Violence Hotline at (877) 785-2020 or by contacting either their local police department or the Essex County Sheriff Department located at
Essex County Sheriff's Department Headquarters
20 Manning Avenue
Middleton, MA. 01949
Phone: (978) 750-1900
Alternatively, interested persons may contact organizations empowered by the Massachusetts Office for Victim Assistance (MOVA) to receive sexual violence reports at the state or county level. Those designated at the state level include
Asian Task Force Against Domestic Violence, Inc.
24/7 Hotline: (617) 338-2355
Phone: (617) 338-2350
Civil Legal Aid to Victims of Crime Initiative (CLAVC) at Massachusetts Legal Assistance
Phone: (617) 367-8544
24/7 Hotline: (617) 742-4911
Phone: (617) 695-0877
Phone: (781) 322-0400
Violence Recovery Program at Fenway Health
Phone: (617) 927-6250
Organizations specific to Essex County include
HAVEN at Massachusetts General Hospital
24/7 Hotline: (877) 785-2020
Phone: (617) 724-0054
Healing Abuse, Working for Change, Inc. (HAWC)
24/7 Hotline: (800) 547-1649
Phone: (978) 744-2299
24/7 Hotline: (978) 388-1888
Phone: (978) 834-9710
Journey to Safety at Jewish Family & Children’s Service
Phone: (781) 647-5327
Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (MSPCC)
Phone: (617) 983-5800
Phone: (781) 338-7678
Phone: (617) 232-1303
Women and Family Abuse Program at Greater Lynn Senior Services, Inc.
24/7 Hotline: (800) 922-2275
Phone: (781) 599-0110
YWCA of Northeastern Massachusetts
24/7 Hotline: (877) 509-9922
Phone: (978) 687-0331
There is no particular time limit to report domestic violence in Essex. However, the promptness of a report may determine whether the case will be tried and whether the court will impose certain evidential requirements. For example, sexual offenses have no time limit. But, if instituted more than 27 years after its commission, the court will require the prosecutor to provide corroborating evidence in addition to the victim’s testimony. The limitation period for domestic violence will depend on the particular charge, including whether the case is civil or criminal. The limitation period for most civil cases involving personal injury in Massachusetts is three years. It is best to report domestic violence early, and this will enable to prosecution to gather solid and sufficient evidence to have a successful charge.
Where there is substantial evidence to dispute a domestic evidence charge, a competent criminal defense lawyer can help the accused avoid conviction by relying on any of the following defenses.
Self Defense: This defense is applicable where the accused committed the guilty act while being threatened by the victim. However, a person can only use as much force as necessary to prevent or stop harm to their person.
Defense of Others: defense of others allows a person to use force to defend the welfare of another individual when they are in danger of harm. Like in self-defense, the force used must be reasonable in each situation.
Ulterior motive: a domestic violence charge may be dismissed if the accusation is rooted in ulterior motives such as false accusations to get revenge, to cover up certain transgressions, or to get custody of the children in a divorce.
Some of the common domestic violence-related charges include
Assault and Battery on a Family or Household Member: occurs when a person deliberately or recklessly delivers unlawful physical contact on a family or household member or places the person in imminent apprehension or fear of such a contact. For a first-time offender, it is punishable by up to 2.5 years in a house of correction or by a fine not exceeding $5,000, or both the fine and imprisonment. A subsequent offense attracts up to five years in state prison.
Strangulation: occurs when the offender intentionally interferes with the normal breathing or circulation of blood of the victim by applying substantial pressure on their neck or throat. This is a serious felony punishable by up to five years in state prison. A second offense of this crime is punishable by a maximum penalty of ten years imprisonment.
Violation of a Restraining or Protective Order: A restraining order is a court order requiring an abuser to stay away from their victim. Violating a protective order is punishable to up to 2.5 years in a house of correction and a fine not exceeding $5,000. The defendant must also pay a special fine of $25 together with all expenses incurred by the plaintiff as a result of the abuse. The court may also impose a batterer’s intervention program and a fee of $350 on the offender.
Stalking: A person commits the crime of stalking by making threats intended to place the victim in fear of death or physical injury or repeatedly contacting or engaging in alarming actions that would cause emotional distress to a reasonable person. Stalking is punishable by up to 2.5 years in a house of correction, or five years in state prison, and a fine of up to $1,000. Second and subsequent convictions for stalking are punishable by between two years in a house of correction to ten years in state prison.
Intimidation of a witness: this involves an attempt to interfere with a pending or potential court case. Acts such as trying to prevent a person from contacting the police or use of threats, violence, or even bribes can amount to victim intimidation. This crime is publishable by up to ten years in state prison.
A prosecutor can take certain steps to get a victim to show up for trial. The court will usually consider the facts of each case and the evidence before it to decide whether or not to proceed without the victim. The prosecution may proceed without the victim if other evidence available is sufficient to convict the offender. Such evidence may include photographs of the victim’s injuries and medical evidence. The prosecution may also consider the offender’s criminal history to determine whether to proceed with the case.