In Silva v. Carmel, the SJC held that an abuse prevention order, more commonly known as a restraining order, does not apply in a group home setting. Looking at the strict elements of the statute, because they were not family members or in an intimate relationship, the protection of the restraining order would not apply. Furthermore a group home does not constitute a household. While I agree with the SJC’s legal analysis, I disagree with the decision on policy grounds.
First, the purpose of a 209A restraining order is to protect people and the underlying purpose of the statute is to protect those in need. Second, a group home can form a family unit as many people who live in group homes have resided together for many years. And further the people with disabilities are a vulnerable population and susceptible to abuse. Of note, the individual could have filed an anti-harassment order under Massachusetts Law.