Protection From Abuse Orders on the Rise: Process May be Misused
According to the Unified Judicial System of Pennsylvania, the number of Protection From Abuse (PFA) filings in Pennsylvania has increased from 2014 through 2017, with 39,083 PFAs filed in 2017, of which 90 percent were granted. The website of State College Attorney Laura Robbins notes that individuals may misuse the PFA process. Sometimes, when parents are separating, one parent tries to file a PFA against the other in order to obtain immediate custody of a child or children. Other times, an individual may attempt to file a PFA in order to remove someone from the household.
A PFA is essentially a restraining order against a household or family member which can remain in effect for up to three years. Many victims of domestic violence utilize these orders to remain safe and free from contact from their abuser. Not only can these orders keep victims safe, but they also provide for criminal penalties should an abuser violate the order.
There are legitimate reasons for a PFA order, for women and men alike. The Fathers’ Right Movement website cites these facts:
- Domestic violence against women and domestic violence against men happen in almost equal proportions. (Domestic Violence Statistics Organization, 2012)
- Men generally do not report domestic violence in fear of ridicule by both law enforcement and the public. (Domestic Violence Statistics Organization, 2012)
- 63% of males (as opposed to 15% of females) have had a deadly weapon used against them in a fight with an intimate partner. (Domestic Violence Statistics Organization, 2012)
- There is relatively little research on domestic violence against men because no organization, including the US government, is willing to fund the research. (Domestic Violence Statistics Organization, 2012)
- In domestic violence cases where there was reciprocation, over 71% of the initiators were women, and in those cases, men were more likely to be injured than women. (Rhymes, 2014)
- The majority of research done on males as victims of domestic violence is encompassed in research as to the reason for domestic violence on women, not by “anti-women men’s groups”. (Rhymes, 2014)
If you find that you are under the restrictions of a PFA, or are considering filing for a PFA order, support is available. Dads’ Resource Center offers an educational video series that discusses Protection from Abuse (PFA) orders through interviews with a sheriff, district judge, attorney and community counselor. The videos series aims to provide more support for those who are under the order of a PFA and help them make good choices to ensure the safety of everyone who is involved.
The four informational videos, set in interview style, discuss the following:
- Centre County Sheriff Bryan Sampsel talks about what to expect if you are served with a Protection From Abuse Order.
- Magisterial District Judge Kelley Gillette-Walker discusses the process of being served with a Protection From Abuse order and how to prepare for, and what to expect at, an initial hearing before a judge.
- Attorney Stephanie Cooper gives the perspective of PFAs from an attorney who practices criminal law and legal resources available to successfully follow a PFA.
- Brian Coval from Crossroad Counseling, Inc. talks about the benefits of counseling and outlines community resources available to those affected by PFA orders.
While the videos mainly address the viewpoint of those individuals being served a PFA order, the series offers valuable information for any Pennsylvania resident seeking, or considering, protection orders. If we can help, contact us through our form on our About Us page.