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General Laws

Section 20K. As used in this section the following words shall unless the context clearly requires otherwise have the following meanings:—

“Abuse”, causing or attempting to cause physical harm; placing another in fear of imminent physical harm; causing another to engage in sexual relations against his will by force, threat of force, or coercion.

“Confidential communication”, information transmitted in confidence by and between a victim and a domestic violence victims’ counselor by a means which does not disclose the information to a person other than a person present for the benefit of the victim, or to those to whom disclosure of such information is reasonably necessary to the counseling and assisting of such victim. The term includes all information received by the domestic violence victims’ counselor which arises out of and in the course of such counseling and assisting, including, but not limited to, reports, records, working papers, or memoranda.

“Domestic violence victims’ counselor”, a person who is employed or volunteers in a domestic violence victims’ program, who has undergone a minimum of twenty-five hours of training and who reports to and is under the direct control and supervision of a direct service supervisor of a domestic violence victims’ program, and whose primary purpose is the rendering of advice, counseling or assistance to victims of abuse.

“Domestic violence victims’ program”, any refuge, shelter, office, safe home, institution or center established for the purpose of offering assistance to victims of abuse through crisis intervention, medical, legal or support counseling.

“Victim”, a person who has suffered abuse and who consults a domestic violence victims’ counselor for the purpose of securing advice, counseling or assistance concerning a mental, physical or emotional condition caused by such abuse.

A domestic violence victims’ counselor shall not disclose such confidential communication without the prior written consent of the victim, except as hereinafter provided. Such confidential communication shall not be subject to discovery in any civil, legislative or administrative proceeding without the prior written consent of the victim to whom such confidential communication relates. In criminal actions such confidential communication shall be subject to discovery and shall be admissible as evidence but only to the extent of information contained therein which is exculpatory in relation to the defendant; provided, however, that the court shall first examine such confidential communication and shall determine whether or not such exculpatory information is therein contained before allowing such discovery or the introduction of such evidence.

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