(last update: April 22, 2020)
In response to Massachusetts Governor Baker’s guidance and the Massachusetts Department of Health (DPH), Independence House is conforming to changes being made in our local community in order to help prevent the spread of Covid-19 (coronavirus) while continuing to support survivors of domestic and sexual violence.
Independence House Hotline (800-439-6507): Our telephone hotline remains a 24-hour staffed resource that offers immediate response to any physical or emotional crisis arising from abuse or sexual assault. During office hours, individuals may also be put in touch with counselors/advocates to complete initial intakes by phone and discuss their personal circumstances in order to receive additional resources that may be helpful.
Counseling and Legal Advocacy: Independence House Counselors and Staff Attorney are continuing to work with domestic and sexual assault survivor clients and are accommodating schedules to include remote support by telephone.
Individual Legal Advocacy for legal advice and representation; and Independence House SAFEPLAN Court Advocates to assist with 209A Protective Orders and 258E Harassment Orders:
(UPDATE April 22, 2020- 9:30am) FOR 209A & 258E:
The Trial Court has posted resources and information for remote processing of Abuse Protection Orders (G.L.c. 209A) and Harassment Prevention Orders (G.L.c. 258E) via telephone or video hearings during the COVID-19 pandemic. A Resource Guide provides a region-specific list of advocacy services and court contact information for law enforcement at this web address,
Telephonic or video hearings for G.L.c. 209A orders and G.L.c. 258E orders are being conducted in place of in-person hearings in all applicable departments of the Trial Court, unless and exception is made by a Regional Administrative Justice or a First Justice for an in-person hearing. A remote process will be allowed in order to complete the required paperwork and conduct the related hearings. Trial Court Help Line can be reached at 1-833-91 COURT or 1-833-91 26878. The Court’s COVID Response Page can be found at: https://mass.gov/guides/court-system-response-to-covid-19.
(UPDATE MARCH 30, 2020- 3:30pm) An Independence House Staff Attorney can provide legal advice and representation to domestic violence survivors in District and Family Courts for matters regarding abuse prevention orders and family law.To request legal services, a Legal Services Request Form must be completed and returned to Independence House. Download the LEGAL SERVICES REQUEST FORM. Email completed forms to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Additionally, (UPDATE MARCH 25, 2020- 9:00am): Telephone assistance for 209A and 258E Protective Order applications and safety planning is available from Independence House SAFEPLAN advocates or staff attorney. This service is available Monday-Friday from 9:00am-4:00pm. To receive assistance, call 800-439-6507 x238. On the voicemail, speak your name slowly and leave your telephone number twice. An Independence House SAFEPLAN advocate will respond to you within an hour. NOTE: Return calls to you will come through as a blocked number. Please unlock any restricted call access to your telephone. Be sure you are in a safe place while waiting for a return call. Spanish and Portuguese assistance is available. For a printable version of this information, please click the image for the flyer to download a PDF copy.
(UPDATE MARCH 25, 2020- 7:15pm): The Barnstable Probate and Family Court website has been updated to provide the various forms needed if someone is seeking an Abuse Prevention Order while the Barnstable Probate and Family Court is closed to the public due to the Coronavirus (COVID-19). Please visit www.barnstablecountypfc.com and find the departments tab and select Abuse Prevention. All of the forms and instructions are available to file a Complaint for Protection from Abuse.
If the person seeking the Abuse Prevention Order has access to a computer and scanner, they may complete the forms without coming to court with the assistance of a Safe Plan Advocate at Independence House by calling 800 439-6507 ex 238 (and following the procedures in the previous updated titled (UPDATE MARCH 25, 2020- 9:00am). Once the forms are complete, the person may call the Barnstable Probate and Family Court at (508) 375-6710. Court staff will instruct the customer to Email the paperwork to a particular staff member and a telephonic hearing will be arranged with the Judge. This procedure is only in effect while the Court is closed to the public.
A person seeking an Abuse Prevention Order may still come to the Court Monday through Friday from 8:30am until 3:45pm.
Independence House office space located within Barnstable County Courthouses will follow the schedule set forth by the County’s court operations. At the time of this notice, Barnstable County Courthouses are all currently closed to the public except for emergency matters until at least April 6 We recommend visiting each individual court houses website to inquire on updates for court operation hours.
(UPDATE APRIL 2, 2020- 10:30am) The Trial Court will announce today the April 2, 2020 launch of a Help Line for non-emergency matters that the public can call to ask general questions about their civil and criminal cases and help callers navigate the court system. The Help Line will be staffed from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday, and can be reached by calling 833-91COURT.
Falmouth District Court: 161 Jones Road, Falmouth MA, 02540 TEL: 508-495-1500
Barnstable District Court: 3195 Main Street, Barnstable, MA 02630 TEL: 508-375-6778
Barnstable Probate Court: 3195 Main Street, Barnstable, MA 02630 TEL: 508-375-6710
Orleans District Court: 237 Rock Harbor Road, Orleans, MA 02653 TEL: 508-255-4700
Medical and Police Accompaniment: Independence House is following the guidelines of the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, Cape Cod Healthcare System, and individual police departments on Cape Cod. Until further notice, Independence House is suspending individual trips to meet with sexual assault survivors at Cape Cod Hospital, Falmouth Hospital and Cape Cod Police Departments with the exception of Falmouth Police Department where an Independence House advocate is staffed.
It is important to remember that evidence collection for sexual assaults happen within five days of an assault. Both Cape Cod Hospital and Falmouth Hospitals have protocols in place to offer telephone assistance to survivors from Independence House if the survivor would like to speak with our counselors during their visit at the hospital.
Independence House in the community: Until further notice, Independence House is suspending recent upcoming events and meetings.
The Center for Disease Control (CDC) has informative resources available. Please visit the following link to learn more about how coronavirus spreads and how to take steps to protect yourself and others. https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prepare/prevention.html
MASS.Gov COVID-19 Cases, Quarantine and Monitoring by County in Massachusetts
Town of Barnstable COVID-19 Information and Resources
Tracking COVID-19 (coronavirus) globally: These are 2 of the most comprehensive websites that offer up to the minute global tracking:
Help stop the spread of coronavirus
When is it a good idea to wash your hands?
- After sneezing or coughing
- After handling a sick child
- After changing a diaper
- After using a shopping cart
- After visiting a doctor’s office or public buildings
- After touching money
- After shaking hands or contact with any other person