Abuse in a relationship can start suddenly and in some cases without warning. If you feel like you may be in an abusive relationship, there are some steps to can take to help protect you during this confusing and terrifying time. Knowing how the legal process works to safeguard victims is the first step towards gaining independence.
DV stats in Pennsylvania
On Sunday, District Attorney for the state of Pennsylvania Bernie Cantorna spoke at a vigil for a victim who lost her life due to domestic abuse. Cantora relayed some startling numbers to the crowd at the memorial that doubled as a celebration of the victim’s life and as a way to raise awareness about the dangers of domestic violence. One of the most compelling facts given stated; during 2017 over 100 people lost their lives in an abusive relationship in Pennsylvania.
When it comes to domestic abuse, having an order for protection from abuse, PFA, can make all the difference in a victim’s life. A PFA order is a document signed by a judge that gets served to the abuser indicating if the abuser does not stop the harmful behavior they will face severe legal consequences. Pennsylvania includes the following examples of abuse in the state’s definition of the term:
- Bodily injury, with or without a deadly weapon
- Sexual assault
- False imprisonment
On a national level, almost 75% of murder-suicides involve an intimate partner. It is hard to say if a PFA order would have changed the outcomes for these victims of domestic abuse. What we do know is this; PFA’s can be crucial in maintaining a victim’s safety during and after ending an abusive relationship.