A recent community conversation about domestic abuse in Minnesota brought together panelists who were survivors of domestic abuse. While the panel was convened outside of Pennsylvania, those who survive and are victims of domestic abuse in Pennsylvania have similar concerns and should be aware of the same information.

Dozens of people were in attendance and were told about the Lethality Assessment Program questionnaire that the police are now using as a way to determine the danger level to victims in abusive relationships. Some of the panelists discussed the fact that leaving an abusive relationship is often not easy or safe. They also shared things that people who may be victims of domestic abuse should be aware of, including risk factors, how to understand if behavior is controlling and where to find help. Anyone in an abusive relationship was urged to seek help and get out of the relationship.

Pennsylvania fatalities related to abuse

Domestic violence occurs across the nation. According to the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Domestic Violence, the number of fatalities related to domestic abuse in Pennsylvania in 2012 was 141, including 110 victims and 31 perpetrators, which is lower than any other year since 2008. At the same time, these deaths were often quite brutal, with 53 percent of victim deaths related to guns, 20 percent to knives, and the rest related to other violent acts. Of the victims, 72 or 85 percent were female and only 38 or 15 percent were male.

Getting a temporary restraining order

A victim of domestic abuse can seek a temporary restraining order. Even though it is temporary, it can be a powerful tool in keeping danger away from a person. It is important to seek the services of a protection from abuse lawyer when requesting a restraining order because the victim will need to go to a hearing and prove abuse in order for a judge to issue the protective order, and having a lawyer can help one acquire the best protection.

Getting Help

As the Cottage Grove conversation emphasized, those in abusive situations should seek help. The PCADV has a number of services to help victims who are reaching out for help. In addition, there are services available in all 69 counties in Pennsylvania, from Adams to Cumberland to York. There is also a national domestic violence hotline that can direct a person to services in their area. Getting out of an abusive relationship may be difficult, but can and should be done.

When a person needs protection from an abusive situation, it can be very helpful to retain the services of a protection from abuse lawyer so that a proper restraining order might be issued against the perpetrator.