The emotional and physical trauma of abuse can leave victims feeling helpless and alone. Having the courage to file for a Protection from Abuse (PFA) order is a major, courageous step in the direction toward keeping yourself safe from the abuse of someone close to you. Once you file for your PFA, the next step is the hearing. To help ease this already painful process, here are a few ways you should prepare for your PFA hearing:
Collect everything you can find that will support your abuse claim. If you have hospital records from injuries, police reports from filing domestic incidents, photo evidence of physical harm, or diary entries where you have cataloged what’s happened to you, organize it and take it with you. Anything you are able to pull together that contributes to provide evidence of an abusive relationship can help build your case during a PFA hearing.
Reach out to potential witnesses
If you have confided with anyone about your abuse, now is the time to reach out to them to ask for their support. Any family members or friends who might have seen the abuse or observed any injuries can be witnesses. Has a doctor treated your wounds? Are you willing to give your therapist permission to speak about your sessions? Gather anyone you know who can testify to what you’ve been through.
Make a plan for your children
If you have children and are filing a PFA against the other parent of your child, you have to be prepared to be questioned about your efforts to protect the child from also being abused in your home. You also must be ready to advocate for your child the next steps that are in their best interest, including the future of their relationship with the abusive person.
Practice discussing the abuse
You’ve experienced trauma, and that is an unbelievably hard thing to have to relive by telling the story of it all over again. You know what happened to you, but others have to be walked through it as well during the PFA hearing. A description of your abusive encounters will have to be retold, and you should practice the process to get used to saying it out loud.
Moving forward with a PFA is a difficult journey, and an experienced attorney can help you prepare and undergo the least amount of emotional stress possible. At Shafer Law Firm, we have several skilled attorneys happy to assist you and answer any questions about family law that you may have. Contact us for more information.
Elizabeth was raised in Meadville, PA and was a local small business owner before attending Duquesne University School of Law, where she received her Juris Doctorate degree in 2010. She focuses her practice on family law matters such as divorce, custody and support. Her background as former County Solicitor for Crawford County Children and Youth services, combined with her experience in bankruptcy actions and personal injury actions, allows her to successfully navigate matters that are both highly sensitive and legally complex.
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