SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) - Filing a restraining order is an active form of leaving an abusive relationship. YWCA of Western Massachusetts staff told 22News, that move has dangerous consequences, so victims of domestic violence should always consider what kind of situations they are in before they file a restraining order.
Springfield residents told 22News, they think sometimes a restraining order isn't enough to keep the victims of abusive relationships safe.
Marilyn Pagan of Springfield told 22News, "Sometimes it really doesn't work because when they are coming at you, they are coming at you. They hold back and not want to tell anybody, needing the helping but they are not asking because they are afraid."
In 1999, a woman was shot to death by a man in Northampton just 30 minutes after obtaining a restraining order against that man.
The staff at YWCA told 22News, these are extreme situations.
In fact in 2011, there were 3,500 restraining orders filed in Hampden County because of domestic violence, and the Springfield Police Department responded to nearly 3,000 incidents of domestic violence.
Mary Reardon Johnson, Executive Director of YWCA told 22News, seeing such a high number of restraining orders is a good thing because that means victims are actively seeking help.
She said, "One of the hardest parts is making the decision to leave. We know that taking out a restraining order, that very active leaving, really heightens the risk, but again, we can safety plan."
And Beth Cady, Director of Community Domestic Violence Services told 22News, in most cases, restraining orders are effective. But before filing a restraining order, victims must consider what has worked in the past and if their attacker has any history of violence.
"What have they been able to do or have identify themselves to keep them safe?" she said. "What may work for me, may not work for you so we need to take those things into consideration."
The safety plan Reardon Johnson mentioned could include keeping important documents in a bag so if you have to get away immediately, you can grab those easily.
Victims can remain anonymous and call the YWCA hotline at 413-733-7100 or 800-796-8711.