Most couples who live together, married or otherwise, are spending an inordinate amount of time together due to COVID-19 and Stay in Place Order. They are working from home, teaching their children, and managing their household without the ability to leave and take a breather when tensions undoubtedly rise. However, for victims of domestic violence, rising tensions can lead to abuse from which escape is now much more difficult if not impossible. A recent Time article, citing the National Domestic Violence Hotline, reported that a growing number of callers say that their abusers are using COVID-19 as a means of further isolating them from friends and family. Other victims reported their abusers are using the pandemic as an excuse to withhold financial resources and medical assistance.
In Pennsylvania, victims of domestic violence or abuse can file for a Protection From Abuse Order. Under the law, abuse is causing or trying to cause physical harm or putting someone in reasonable fear of immediate and serious physical harm. A victim must go to his or her local courthouse in person and file for a PFA. Keep in mind that while courthouses across the state are generally closed during this time, they remain open for individuals to file for a Protection from Abuse Order. Courthouses may have limited hours and revised procedures, so it is important to contact a family law attorney who can provide guidance.