Dirty Little Secret: Data Gaps and Domestic Violence Cases in PA

Posted by Joseph D. Lento | Dec 31, 2020 | 0 Comments

A struggling economy, mutating virus strain, and a shaky start to the new year – it's a small wonder why most Americans are anxious about the future. COVID-19 was a game-changer in many ways, and the stress of keeping up made it difficult for families to cope. One byproduct of the pandemic was an uptick in domestic violence cases. Although the rise isn't surprising, there's no explanation for the healthcare industry's lack of reporting protocol.

Last month, an NBC10 investigation revealed gaps in the medical industry's data and reporting process for domestic violence cases. The lack of accurate information prevents agencies from fully understanding the prevalence of the issue and its effect on the pandemic.

Lori Sywensky, an executive director at a PA advocacy agency, mentioned to NBC10 that they are receiving 40% more calls than usual at this time of year. Despite this uptick, there is a drop in the number of Protection from Abuse orders in PA.

What to Know About PFAs

In Pennsylvania, victims can file Protection from Abuse orders, or PFAs, that provide civil protections against abuse. There are three types of PFAs available in the state. An emergency order for immediate assistance, a temporary order, and a full PFA. Each order has a different timeframe depending on the details of the case.

Expungement, or the sealing or destruction of some records, does not apply to PFAs in Pennsylvania if a PFA becomes a final order. All cases involving these orders become public record. The only exceptions to this rule are if the judge dismisses the PFA or if the filer withdraws it before confirmation. In such an instance, a party can seek the expungement of a PFA if the PFA does not become a final order.

Curbing the Problem

Anger is a normal and healthy human response to events but becomes destructive when your emotions slip out of control. Even though PFA numbers are decreasing, that doesn't mean that you may not be part of the problem if a trigger happens. Luckily, there are ways to combat an episode of rage that can potentially turn violent.

  • Identify triggers: Take note of words or events that start to generate anger. This action helps you limit tension and negative feelings before they grow.
  • Recognize the signs: Physical signs might include a higher heart rate, body tension, change of the pitch of your voice. Psychological symptoms can include loss of focus and a surge of other feelings you may confuse with anger, such as shame, fear, and anxiety.
  • Remove yourself from the conversation/space: Sometimes, the only way to stay calm is to walk away before the situation explodes. Even if you are in the same home, you can remove yourself momentarily to a bathroom, kitchen, or bedroom.

You can always choose not to escalate and take the violent route. When you actively take steps to prevent an episode from happening, you can avoid harming others and yourself and dealing with a restraining order.

Help is Available for DV Defendants

If you are a defendant in a domestic violence incident, the repercussions can haunt you for years. Don't wait to receive the legal help and support you need to navigate this complex charge. Call attorney Joseph D. Lento and the Lento Law Firm today at 888-535-3686 to discuss your options in strict confidence.

About the Author

Joseph D. Lento

"I pride myself on having heart and driving hard to get results!" Attorney Joseph D. Lento passionately fights for the futures of his clients in criminal courtrooms in Philadelphia and across Pennsylvania as well as in New Jersey and nationwide. He does not settle for the easiest outcome, and instead prioritizes his clients' needs and well-being. With unparalleled experience occupying several roles in the criminal justice system outside of being an attorney, Joseph D. Lento can give you valuable behind-the-scenes insight as to what is happening during all phases of the legal process. Joseph D. Lento is licensed in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and New York, and is admitted pro hac vice as needed nationwide. In the courtroom and in life, attorney Joseph D. Lento stands up when the bell rings!


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Attorney Joseph D. Lento has more than a decade of experience successfully resolving clients' criminal charges in Philadelphia and the Pennsylvania counties. If you are having any uncertainties about what the future may hold for you or a loved one, contact the Lento Law Firm today! Criminal defense attorney Joseph D. Lento will go above and beyond the needs of any client, and will fight until the final bell rings.

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