Legal battles can have a severe impact on one's emotional well-being. When those battles involve your family or domestic partners, the impact is amplified. Pennsylvania Protection from Abuse (PFA) orders are a common tool used as a way to protect victims of domestic violence. While these orders are important in protecting victims, they can take a terrible toll on those who've they've been levied against.
Subjects of PFAs are human, and their emotional well-being matters. After all, instances of domestic violence involve the family, and the only way for the family to move forward is for everyone to learn how to cope with their feelings, anger, emotions, and reactions in the healthiest way possible.
Pennsylvania PFA Basics
In PA, a PFA order operates like a restraining order in other states. Not just anyone can seek a PFA order against you, and PA state law requires a special relationship to exist between the accuser and the accused. This relationship must be classified as either past or present:
- Intimate partners
- Sexual partners
- Family members
- Household members
- Parents of the same child
The state favors the victim in PFA cases in that the burden of proof is relatively low. Further, actual physical violence isn't required in seeking a PFA against someone. Instead, the accuser needs only demonstrate they had a reasonable fear of imminent and serious injury. Emotions among family members can run high. No one can push your buttons like someone you share a home with. Most of the time, fights and actions that trigger PFA orders happen despite your best intentions.
If a PFA has been ordered against you in Pennsylvania, you're likely experiencing a wide range of emotions that include anger, shame, embarrassment, and panic. These are normal feelings, but you can't let them control you.
How PFAs Can Affect You
When you become subject to a PFA, you may not initially understand just how far-reaching the consequences can be. You won't be able to make any contact with the individual who took out the PFA against you. If you both share the same home, this means you'll have to move out. If you work at the same place, you'll have to quit your job. If your job involves working with vulnerable populations, like children, you might get fired. If you're professionally licensed, you'll most likely have to disclose the PFA to your professional licensing board, and they may have to take disciplinary action against you.
A PFA is a big deal, and it's no surprise that those affected by them can experience a wide range of negative emotions. These orders can change your whole life in an instant and what's worse is that you might feel like you're entirely to blame for these problems.
Common Emotional Responses
The emotional responses to PFAs against you go deeper than just financial concern or inconvenience. They almost always include sentiments of anger, shame, and regret. In some cases, those who've been hit with a PFA will fall into isolation or depression.
Anger is a typical response, and natural as you process the initial shock of the PFA. You might feel the PFA is unjustified, or that it's a betrayal of your relationship. Anger may give way to guilt and shame. Guilt is a tough emotion to process, but it's better than shame. In some cases, your feelings of guilt could be justified. Perhaps you went too far. Still, those who feel guilty leave room for self-improvement. They know they need to work on it.
If you feel shameful, odds are you're more likely to slip into depression. Shame is a tough feeling to navigate, and the more shameful you feel, the more you'll isolate yourself. It can turn into a negative feedback loop until you're lost and alone. No one should have to go through this. Just because you may have acted inappropriately doesn't mean you should suffer for the rest of your life. In fact, that doesn't help anyone. The best thing you can do for yourself and your loved ones is to overcome these negative emotions and get your life back on track.
What Not to Do After a PFA
If a PFA has been taken out against you, and you're struggling to process your range of emotions, you must avoid trying to contact or get in touch with your accuser. Even those who've been unjustly accused can end up causing more problems for themselves if they ignore the rules imposed by the PFA.
PFAs aren't handled in criminal court. Instead, they're dealt with in family court. That said, if you violate the conditions of a PFA, you could be arrested for contempt, which is a crime. Accordingly, you could end up with a criminal record if you decide to let your emotions get the best of you and contact your accuser.
Resolving PFA Issues the Right Way
The most appropriate course of action for those accused of domestic violence resulting in PFAs is to work with a professional. In terms of your emotional well-being, you should consult with mental health experts who can help you understand and navigate your very justified feelings. Remember, the best-case scenario for everyone is a return to normalcy. Sometimes difficult emotions must be addressed before this normalcy can occur.
Just like you should work with a mental health professional to resolve your inner turmoil after a PFA, you should also work with a legal professional who can help you navigate the legal system.
Call a PFA Family Law Attorney Today
Pennsylvania PFA attorney Joseph D. Lento understands how difficult it can be to navigate the stress of a PFA. Attorney Lento and his dedicated Criminal Defense Team at the Lento Law Firm can help you work through the process today. To learn more, call 888-535-3686 today, or contact us online.