Domestic violence is a serious problem in Pennsylvania and across the U.S. According to statistics from 2009 to 2019 from the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Domestic Violence, almost 1,600 people died from domestic violence incidents in Pennsylvania. The numbers are also stark across the U.S. Up to 20 people experience domestic violence every minute, and one in three women have been victims of intimate partner violence.
Family Violence and Mental Health
The link between violence in families and mental health is clear. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, some of the most common risk factors that can leave you or your loved ones vulnerable to domestic violence include:
- Mental illness,
- Depression and suicide attempts,
- Heavy drug or alcohol use,
- Anger and aggression,
- Outdated social attitudes,
- Economic insecurity like poverty or a lost job,
- Low education levels,
- Low self-esteem, and
- A childhood history of physical or mental abuse.
Moreover, domestic violence can also lead to mental health issues among victims, including higher levels of depression, anxiety, drug or alcohol abuse, and suicidal thoughts. In many ways, mental health issues can lead to a revolving door of domestic violence. Children and families subject to domestic violence are more likely to have mental health issues that can lead to domestic violence down the road. Children often repeat the patterns they see while growing up, making them more likely to become domestic abusers or victims of domestic abuse.
Breaking the Cycle of Violence
If you and your family are facing domestic violence, help is available. You can seek a Protection from Abuse (PFA) order or file a private criminal complaint in Pennsylvania. You can also seek counseling or therapy for yourself and your family.
- Protection from Abuse Orders You may seek a PFA against your abuser based on an act of domestic violence. If you and your abuser are married, living together, dating, or are members of the same family or household or have a child together, you may qualify. A PFA can prevent your abuser from approaching or contacting you and those named in the protective order.
- Private Criminal Complaints In Pennsylvania, you can also file a private criminal complaint against another individual. In most counties, the district attorney's office has a unit that will review filed criminal complaints and determine whether there's probable cause to justify filing the complaint. Often, they will forward the complaint to a detective who will investigate. If the district attorney's office doesn't find that probable cause exists, they will dismiss the complaint.
- Counseling and Therapy Counseling for domestic violence often focuses on group or individual counseling for the abuser. While it is important for an abuser to seek treatment to improve unhealthy attitudes, anger management, and conflict resolution, counseling for victims should take a different approach. You may need a trauma-focused approach to therapy. Many victims of domestic violence, or children who live in a home with violence, may have PTSD, anxiety, or depression. But counseling for an entire family can work to disrupt the cycle of violence.
You Need an Experienced Pennsylvania Attorney
If you and your family face violence at home, you don't have to go through this alone. A skilled family attorney, well-versed in handling domestic violence and PFA orders, can help. Attorney Joseph D. Lento and the experienced Domestic Violence Team at the Lento Law Firm have helped many Pennsylvania families through domestic violence, and they can help you too. Call the Lento Law Firm at 888.535.3686, or contact them online to schedule your consultation.