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Essay Subject: Regardless of age, sexual orientation, or gender, individuals in every community can be affected by domestic abuse or violence.  In Pennsylvania, victims of domestic abuse or violence can obtain a Protection From Abuse order.  Based on your research, who can obtain a Protection From Abuse order and what can a Protection From Abuse order do for individuals experiencing domestic violence or abuse?


The Protection From Abuse Order is a civil order that “provides protection from harm by family or household members, sexual or intimate partners, or someone with whom you have a child in common.” (womenslaw.org) The order acts as a vessel for combatting domestic violence against people in intimate situations with their attackers as well as acting as a support to those who fall victim to this form of abuse.

In terms of obtaining this order, victims who can prove that they are a victim of a type of violence listed in the qualifying Protection From Abuse Order categories of their region/state are able to file for this order. (Womenslaw.org) For example, in Pennsylvania, forms of abuse that qualify for this order of protection are the causing or attempt to cause bodily injury or serious injury; rape; involuntary deviate sexual intercourse; sexual or statutory sexual assault; aggravated indecent assault; indecent assault; and incest. (pcadv.org) All of these forms of violence qualify as domestic abuse with or without a deadly weapon. Another aspect of this order is that it protects against the mental and environmental contributions to domestic violence as well. This is encompasses reasonable threats of immediate serious bodily injury; false imprisonment; physical or sexual abuse of a child; as well as repeatedly committed acts toward another person under circumstances which place the person in reasonable fear of bodily injury. (pcadv.org) Victims of abuse are able to file a PFA order against an intimate partner or family member such as present or ex spouses; persons who have lived as spouses; domestic partners; same sex couples; parents; children; persons related by blood or marriage; and current or former sexual or intimate partners. (pcadv.org) This act, however, does not cover abuse by a stranger or a roommate that the victim is not intimately involved with. However, different orders such as restraining orders or files of assault can be filed against abusers in these categories.

If a Protection From Abuse Order is granted to the victim by a judge, the order enables victims to ask the the judge to order the abuser to stop the threatening, abusing, harassing, or stalking the victim or the victim’s children; request that the victim’s new address or location remain confidential; ask for the temporary custody of children; ask for temporary spousal or child support; ask to be paid back for expenses that the victim had as a result of the abuse; ask the judge to prohibit the abuser from contacting the victim, victim’s children, or family members; ask the judge to order the abuser to turn over any firearms or other weapons; ask for the judge to order “any other appropriate relief” like the return of a pet, important papers, or car keys; as well as ask the the judge to make the abuser leave the home or house regardless of whether there is joint ownership. (pcadv.org) Additionally to the benefit of the victim, the PFA Act says that PFA orders are free for the person seeking protection. (pcadv.org) This aspect of the process can be extremely beneficial to victims that socioeconomically restrained and/or dependent on their partner for financial assistance. In most cases, the defendant will be responsible for paying for all or part of the PFA cost. Otherwise the county must pay. (pcadv.org) The order can go up until and including three years.

Also, PFA and protection orders are valid across state lines. A PFA order from Pennsylvania is valid in every county in Pennsylvania, every state across the country, and on tribal lands. Protection orders from other states or tribal courts are also valid in Pennsylvania. This is because the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), a federal law that protects victims of domestic violence, makes all states honor other courts’ protection orders. (pcadv.org) A victim who has a Protection From Abuse Order does not have to register it as they move to different counties or states for it to be valid, but registering it with the local courthouse may be helpful. Registering it allows for police to quickly verify the order and respond faster to if an abuser violates it. On the downside, some states will notify the defendant when the the victim registers a PFA order in a new county or state. So, if the victim does not want the abuser to know where they are, they may not want to register the PFA.

In the event of a violation, the victim can contact the police, and the charged abuser can and may be arrested for indirect criminal contempt. However, the abuser may be released before the hearing, so victims should consider talking to a domestic violence advocate about steps to take to stay safe. (pcadv.org)

The information provided above was and is designed to assist victims of abuse as well as those who want to use this information to help free someone else of a dangerous situation. Information can change your situation, so if this information or order can be of any benefit to you or a loved one then the deed is done.

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