According to the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Domestic Violence, more than 10 million people were victims of domestic abuse last year. In Pennsylvania, 112 victims died as a result of domestic violence. Victims are men, women, and children who live in fear.
Perhaps you are a victim, and you want out, but removing yourself from the situation is not easy, emotionally, physically, or financially. Those who find the courage to stand up to their abuser can use the law to help protect themselves while they transition to a life free of domestic violence.
At Iwanyshyn & Associates, we help victims of domestic violence find safety. If you live in Allison Park, Pennsylvania, or surrounding counties, call our office today to start your journey toward a better life for you and your children.
Domestic violence takes many forms. At its core, it involves someone exerting control over others through physical violence, emotional abuse, sexual abuse, destruction of property, threatening harm, seclusion, or even mistreating family pets.
Pennsylvania statute defines abuse as the occurrence of one or more of the following acts between members of a family or household, sexual or intimate partners, or others who share biological parents:
Attempting to cause or intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly causing bodily injury, serious bodily injury, rape, involuntary deviate sexual intercourse, sexual assault, statutory sexual assault, aggravated indecent assault, indecent assault, or incest with or without a deadly weapon;
Placing another in reasonable fear of imminent serious bodily injury;
Infliction of false imprisonment;
Physically or sexually abusing minor children; and/or,
Knowingly engaging in a course of conduct or repeatedly committing acts toward another person, including following the person, without proper authority, under circumstances that place the person in reasonable fear of bodily injury.
If you are the victim of domestic abuse, act immediately to protect yourself and others.
Call the police.
Get to safety by going to a law enforcement office, hotel, or the home of a family member or friend. Don’t let the abuser know where you are.
Ask law enforcement to help you obtain an emergency protective order from a magistrate.
Hire an experienced family law attorney to represent you.
Communicate with your employer if you need to advise them of work absence related to domestic violence or of any restraining orders.
File for a restraining order to protect you from the person who has abused or threatened you. You can also file for a restraining order on behalf of minor children.
There are different types of restraining orders, known as “protection from abuse” (PFA) orders:
Emergency PFA which lasts only until the next business day;
Ex parte temporary PFA awarded if the court believes you and/or your children are in danger. This lasts until a final PFA is granted;
Final PFA which lasts for three years and can be extended under certain circumstances.
Restraining orders can order the restrained person to:
Not abuse, harass, stalk, threaten, or attempt or threaten to use physical force against you or your minor children;
Be removed from the home where you both live and grant you possession of the home. If you are living in a home where the abuser is the only owner or tenant, the judge can still remove the abuser from the home under certain circumstances or, with your consent, order them to provide suitable alternate housing;
Pay financial support (including medical bills, health insurance, rent, or mortgage payments) to you or your children;
Have no contact with you or minor children, which includes staying away from your place of employment or your child’s school;
Surrender their firearms and firearm license to law enforcement and prohibit them from obtaining additional firearms;
Surrender other weapons and ammunition to law enforcement if they used or threatened to use them during the abuse; and,
Pay you for reasonable losses resulting from the abuse (medical/dental care, relocation and moving expenses, attorney and counseling costs, and loss of earnings or support).
The PFA can award temporary custody or temporary visitation rights of your minor children and provide any other appropriate relief you may request.
Restraining orders cannot end your marriage or establish parentage of your children.
Employers are required to give employees who are victims of domestic violence unpaid leave without firing or otherwise retaliating against them. Employers with 50 or more employees must provide eight workweeks of leave in a 12-month period. Those with fewer than 50 employees must provide four workweeks of leave in a 12-month period. The employee must provide at least 48 hours of notice of leave, if practical to do so.
Acceptable reasons for leave include seeking medical or psychological treatment for abuse injuries, relocation, and other safety and economic security efforts, safety planning, and meetings with attorneys and other assistance.
The employer may require documentation that the employee or family or household member is a victim of domestic violence and the leave is being taken for a valid reason. Documentation can be provided by police or court records, attorney, victim services organization, clergy, medical professional, counselor, or other evidence.
At Iwanyshyn & Associates, we will treat you with compassion while using our experience to help you use the full force of the law to protect you from the abuser in your life. We have helped make many lives safer in Allison Park, Pennsylvania, Cranberry Township, Pittsburgh, and surrounding areas including Allegheny, Butler, Beaver, Washington, and Westmoreland counties.