As families cope with the fallout from the coronavirus, some unexpected consequences of the pandemic have emerged. Experts suggest that being confined at home for an extended time is leading to increases in violence between couples. Recent data shows a surge in domestic violence cases that require women to seek emergency care.
Social distancing has also made it more difficult for women to report domestic abuse. Judicial data shows that applications for protection from abuse orders in Philadelphia dropped 40% this year—even as domestic violence cases continue to rise. The numbers suggest that victims struggle to seek legal intervention while they are stuck at home with their abusive partners. Here's what you need to know.
What are PFAs?
Protection from abuse, or PFA, are restraining orders that protect victims of domestic violence from their partners. Victims can apply for a PFA if they've experienced domestic violence or the threat of domestic violence from their partner, a family member, or someone they share a child with.
Domestic violence in Pennsylvania refers to instances or threats of bodily injury, sexual assault, rape, emotional abuse, child abuse, theft and destruction of belongings, and not allowing someone to work or see others. PFAs can have a wide-reaching impact on the abuser. They may require an accused abuser to leave their home, avoid contact with the victim, stop all abuse and threats, lose child custody, pay fines, and more. Breaking a PFA can result in an arrest and serious legal consequences.
The Pandemic and PFAs
The coronavirus lockdown has left many domestic violence victims stuck at home with their abusers. Not only has this led to more instances of domestic violence, but it has also made it hard for victims to find the privacy necessary to file PFAs. Women are finding it increasingly difficult to call emergency hotlines and file PFAs while their partners are home. PFA filings in Philadelphia dropped from an average of 748 per month in March-May 2018 to just 457 per month for the same period in 2020.
Further compounding the issue is pandemic-related job loss and school closures. Experts suggest that some abuse victims must leave their children at home with their abusers while they are at work. They are also finding it difficult to seek relief and stay with family members or friends who are in lockdown.
As Pennsylvania continues to grapple with the coronavirus, domestic violence victims face uncertainty and challenges when it comes to evading their abusers. It can be difficult for victims to utilize services like emergency hotlines, online portals, and domestic abuse service providers while they are in danger.
Pennsylvania law takes domestic violence issues very seriously. Although some courts remain closed or are operating only in a limited capacity, it is still possible to file PFAs. If you believe you are in danger, you must take the necessary steps to get a PFA and protect yourself from harm.
The Lento Law Firm can help you and your family order a PFA. They are armed with the legal expertise and experience to fight on your behalf and get you the protection you need. Call us today at 888-535-3686.