While October may be best known as Breast Cancer Awareness Month, the month is also Domestic Violence Awareness and Prevention Month. The two causes may seem different, but they're similar in that while they predominantly affect women, men are often overlooked as either patients or victims.
As the President's 2023 Proclamation highlights, intimate partner violence and abuse, including stalking, affects approximately 40 percent of women and 30 percent of men. Since its passage in 1990, the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) has expanded to cover more individuals and a wider array of behaviors, including stalking and cybercrimes. The 2024 Federal budget directs $1 billion toward gender-based violence programs.
The Lento Law Firm assists victims of domestic violence throughout the state of Pennsylvania. We take lawyer-client confidentiality seriously and encourage individuals to call us at 888.535.3686 or contact us online to learn how we can help.
Domestic Violence and PFAs
In Pennsylvania, individuals can file for a Protection From Abuse Order (PFA) against a member of their household or an intimate partner, even if they do not reside with that individual. PFAs can be granted on an emergency, temporary, or permanent basis. The goal of a PFA is to protect a victim of domestic violence.
Pennsylvania includes the following as types of abuse by a household member that can be grounds for a PFA:
- Sexual assault or misconduct
- Actions that cause physical harm
- False imprisonment
- Causing a person to fear immediate and serious bodily injury
- Engaging in conduct that repeatedly places a person under fear of bodily injury or harm
Why Awareness and Prevention Matters
Incidents of domestic violence are underreported. Victims may not know how to escape their abuser or their situation. They may worry about how reporting abuse will affect their home, their financial situation, their children, or their immigration status.
As requesting a PFA or filing for divorce can radically change an individual's life, both federal and state laws seek to limit negative fallout for victims. Immigration law, for example, has special provisions for individuals who are victims of domestic violence.
The month is an opportunity to highlight ways that domestic abuse victims can break free of dangerous and unhealthy situations. It also helps to inform the general public of signs about behaviors that can increase the risk of intimate partner violence.
Domestic Violence and Child Custody
Even if children aren't targeted, domestic violence can affect them. While a parent can file for sole custody, abuse or a PFA does not automatically end the other parent's right to have a relationship with their child. Courts encourage children to have a relationship with both parents.
Evidence that a child is in danger is needed to limit either custody or visitation. If a child has experienced abuse or there is reason to believe they may be subject to abuse, parents should push to limit custody or visitation. A lawyer can help parents understand their options and limit the danger to their children.
Protecting Victims of Domestic Violence
Leaving an abusive relationship or filing for a PFA can seem overwhelming. Victims may normalize or excuse abuse. Men may dismiss abuse as something that only happens to women.
Domestic Violence Awareness and Prevention Month seeks to change these views. It encourages individuals to accept a zero-tolerance policy for abuse in relationships.
The Family Law Team at the Lento Law Firm knows how frightening it can be to report abuse and attempt to leave an abusive home or relationship. We help our clients navigate the process and begin the next chapter in their lives. Call us at 888.535.3686 or fill out this online form to learn how we can help.