Even before a worldwide pandemic shuttered family members into their homes, domestic violence remained a problem in Pennsylvania. For many state residents isolated with little contact outside of their dwellings, already bad, if not toxic, situations bubbled well over the surface.
Oftentimes abusers saw the shelter-at-home requirements as an opening to commit various acts of violence and neglect against their partners.
According to the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Domestic Violence (PCADV), one in four domestic abuse victims are women, and one in seven are men. In the last ten years, more than 1,600 people in the state lost their lives due to domestic violence-related incidents. In 2020 alone, 109 victims succumbed to their injuries, with an almost even split between women (59) and men (50). Fifty-six percent were killed by their current or ex-partner, with 64 percent murdered by a firearm.
Protections available to victims
Thankfully, options exist to protect domestic violence victims. The state’s Protection From Abuse Act details the steps to take for those suffering from abuse. Temporary orders of up to 10 days are an option should a judge find evidence of the imminent danger of physical harm or the fear of it. More pressing problems that require an emergency order can be granted on weekends, holidays, or late at night. However, their standing only lasts until facilities reopen.
From there, victims can pursue protection from abuse (PFA) order at a final hearing where the alleged abuser can either contest the allegations or consent to the order. The PFA is filed through the Court of Common Pleas Family Division.
Whether abuse victims have been shut off from the world or shut down in their own homes, legal steps from a skilled and compassionate attorney can make a significant difference, potentially saving lives.