For Immediate Release

Gardner Restraining Order Study to be Presented at San Diego Conference

Groundbreaking study finds double standard in court response

BOSTON, August 25--Two research papers outlining the results of a study of domestic abuse protection orders ("209A restraining orders") in Gardner District Court will be presented at the 2002 Family Violence Conference in San Diego, CA on September 27. Steve Basile of Westminster, a former Gardner resident, is the presenter and author of the study. The conference, sponsored by the Family Violence and Sexual Assault Institute and the Children’s Institute International, is an international forum for presenting cutting edge research, interventions, prevention, and advocacy information. Both papers are scheduled for publication in the Journal of Family Violence.

The first phase of the study examined the degree of the abuse and/or violence alleged by both male and female defendants in 209A restraining order cases in 1997. The results found that female defendants were just as abusive as the male defendants in terms of both physical and psychological aggression. The second phase examined the court's response to requests for protection. The results showed that despite the gender-neutral language in the law, the court's response highly favored the women plaintiffs.

The research initiative gained notoriety in March 1999 after Jane Doe, Inc, a battered women’s advocacy organization, lobbied key legislators to stop the research. Thomas Riley, Attorney General at the time, filed legislation designed to pull all contact information found on 209A restraining orders out of the public domain, making domestic violence surveys nearly impossible for those researchers who lacked special access to victims. However, victims already had the power to keep their information secret ("impounding the file") by simply checking a checkbox on the 209A request form. The bill is now law and will most likely have a chilling effect on the type of research that can be conducted by those researchers who question current law and policy.

The intense pressure forced the Gardner researchers to shut down a planned third phase of the research initiative, which involved a phone survey of litigants. The researchers intended to query both plaintiffs and defendants regarding their overall satisfaction with the process, if they felt the protection orders reduced or escalated tensions, as well as other key characteristics not found in the official court record.


For further information, contact:

Steve Basile
North Central Chapter
CPF/The Fatherhood Coalition
(978) 874-0556

CPF / The Fatherhood Coalition

A non-profit, all volunteer organization of men and women advocating for fatherhood since 1994