In this guide, the term "domestic violence" means abuse by a spouse, partner, boyfriend, girlfriend, or date. Two people do not have to be living together for abuse between them to be domestic violence. We use the term "domestic violence," to mean the same thing that other authors mean by the terms “intimate partner violence” (IPV) and "domestic abuse."
In this guide, we use female pronouns (her, she) to refer to domestic violence survivors and male pronouns (his, him, he) to refer to the abusive partner. We do this because it is easier and less confusing than mixing the pronouns. Statistics show that most domestic violence is male on female. There is information on women abusing men, men abusing men, and women abusing women. The information in this guide should help you if you are a survivor of domestic violence, if you are a woman or a man and if your partner is a woman or a man.
Where Do We Go From Here? was originally produced as a printed manual by a group of Western Massachusetts Legal Services (WMLS) Americorps attorneys through a National Services Legal Corps Battered Women's Legal Assistance Project. Over the years it was updated three times by other groups of AmeriCorps attorneys. This online version has been updated and revised by the Massachusetts Law Reform Institute in collaboration with WMLS in 2009. All of the opinions in this guide are those of WMLS and MLRI, unless we note otherwise. This guide explains the law as we understand it at the time of publication. The law changes frequently. Parts of this guide may be incorrect or outdated when you use it. You should always check with a lawyer if you can. This guide is not meant to replace the advice of a lawyer. If you are low-income, you may be able to get free legal help from the legal services program near you.