Protection from Abuse and PFA
Abuse can take many forms, and the protection offered by the law varies based on the relationship between the abuser and the person being abused.
Domestic abuse is one common type of abuse and consists of violence or threats of abuse between people who are, or who have been, in a relationship. This also applies to close family members – parents, children, siblings, etc. Domestic abuse can include inflicting bodily injury, sexual assault, false imprisonment, making threats of violence that can reasonably be believed, harassing, stalking, destroying property, etc.
No matter the form of abuse, making a clear plan to exit the situation is important. The resources at the end of this article can connect you with organizations that can help you get out of an abusive situation and stay safe.
A PFA offers protection for victims of abuse. It can:
- Order the abuser to cease all abuse and harassment of you, your relatives, and your children
- Order the abuser to vacate the home, if you share it
- Award temporary custody or temporary visitation rights of children
- Order the abuser to pay financial support to you or your children, as well as reimburse reasonable losses such as medical bills from the abuse, lost wages, moving expenses, attorney fees, counseling fees, etc.
- Order the abuser to surrender firearms, ammunition, and other weapons
A protection from abuse (PFA) order is signed by a judge. It orders the abuser to stop the abuse, and offers legal protection to victims. Protection orders can be issued in emergencies when the courts are closed, such as weekends or late at night, but final PFAs are only issued after hearings during which both parties are able to testify and present evidence.
While the information contained in this article can help you take steps to protect yourself, please utilize the many resources available to you in order to take the first step toward removing yourself from an abusive situation. Remember that internet use can be monitored, so please visit these sites when you feel that you are safe, and delete your internet history when necessary.
- The National Domestic Violence Hotline – highly-trained advocates are available 24/7 to talk confidentially with people experiencing domestic violence, seeking resources or information, or questioning unhealthy aspects of relationships.
- The Pennsylvania Coalition Against Domestic Violence – works with community programs to provide emergency shelter, counseling, job training, and other free and confidential services for victims and their children.
- The Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape – connects victims to services in their areas
- Your local women’s resource centers including the YWCA, Wise Options for Women, and Women in Transition.
How We Can Help
Our office can help you understand your options and fight for what’s best for you, while understanding that this is one of the most difficult times of your life. Contact us today to discuss the unique aspects of your situation and the needs of your family. Our team will fight for what’s in your best interest, now and in the future if new challenges arise.