Protection From Abuse and Domestic Violence in Pennsylvania

Unseen Epidemic

The subject of domestic violence has been making a lot of headlines lately, largely due to recent incidents involving pro athletes and other celebrities.  However, it’s estimated that for every “celebrity” case, there are thousands of abuse cases that are not even reported to the authorities, let alone in the media. 

The reasons most victims often fail to report abuse is fear of further abuse, or even death, and also out of a sense of shame.  The victims of domestic violence can be spouses, significant others, children and the elderly.

Vicious Cycle

One of the more common characteristics of an abuser is their ability to somehow make their victims feel that the abuse was their fault.  By doing so, the abuser is able to silence his/her victim and also provide some rather sick justification for further abuse.  Almost all abusers express remorse and make promises to change, but more often than not the abuse resumes, often with tragic consequences.  That is why it is important for victims, and other family members and friends, to know that there are a number of options available to intervene and end these incidents before the cycle ends tragically.

Police Assistance

The first, and what should be the most obvious, is to call the police as soon as possible.  Not only can the police arrest and remove the abuser, they can assist the victims with obtaining a temporary Protection from Abuse order or PFA. 

In Pennsylvania, a protection from abuse order requires the abuser to have no contact with the victim at their home, job, school or any other place the victim may be.  (“No contact” is not limited to physical contact only, but through social media or through third persons as well.) 

The PFA order can also require the abuser to relinquish all firearms in their possession and in cases where children are part of the household, the PFA order provides temporary custody provisions.  Should the abuser violate any of the provisions of the order, he is subject to arrest and incarceration.

Applying for PFA

Occasionally, the police will be reluctant to get involved in domestic disputes, but one need not get the police involved to obtain a PFA in Pennsylvania.  Victims can apply at the county courthouse where staff members can explain the process and assist with the application.  Once the application is completed, the victim appears before a judge, without the abuser present, and explains why an order is needed.  After entering a temporary order, the court will schedule a hearing for a permanent order.


It is at this hearing stage of the process that victims should seriously consider retaining an attorney.  At the hearing, evidence will be presented and witnesses will testify and be cross examined.  An attorney can help the victim better present the evidence and also offer some protection during cross examination.

There are a number of other options and agencies for those who are being abused or neglected.  If you are the victim of abuse, or you have a loved one you feel is being abused or neglected, you should contact a Pennsylvania Protection from Abuse attorney to discuss the options as soon as possible.  Contact us at 717-843-8046 or at