While there may be many reasons to live in fear these days, one cause of fear should not be the violent tendencies of a member of one’s own household. Unfortunately, many in Pennsylvania live in fear that a spouse, partner or other member of the household or family will cause them harm. In some cases, a protection from abuse order may be an important factor in the safety plan of a domestic abuse victim.
Obtaining a court order that prohibits an abuser from making contact for up to three years is one way for victims of abuse to find relief from a violent partner or family member. Often, such orders are deterrent enough since violating them can mean severe penalties, including steep fines and the potential for jail. However, there are additional actions abuse victims can take, such as the following:
- Having a plan for getting away quickly
- Leaving essentials with a trusted friend, such as extra clothing, keys, money and documents
- Confiding in neighbors and arranging signals for when the neighbors should call police
- Holding on to evidence of abuse, such as photos of injuries or torn clothing
- Arranging a safe place for the children to go in an emergency
- Seeking medical attention for injuries resulting from abuse, and obtaining documentation of those injuries
- Learning as much as they can about their rights as victims of domestic violence and the resources available to them
Those resources can include financial and medical assistance as well as help seeking and enforcing a protection from abuse order. Living with violence can lead to confusion and uncertainty. Therefore, it is wise for abuse victims to find advocates who will protect their best interests and fight for their safety and well-being.