I am the victim of domestic violence. What should I do?
Call 911 immediately. Your information will be referred to the police district where you are located, and district officers will contact you regarding your complaint.
*For Crisis and Counseling services for victims of domestic violence please contact the Philadelphia Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-866-SAFE-014.
What is a Protection from Abuse Order?
A Protection from Abuse (PFA) Order is the same thing as a restraining order. Under the Protection from Abuse Act, you have the right to go to court and ask a judge to grant a PFA order, which can set limits on the contact that the person who committed the acts of abuse can have with the person who requests the order. A PFA is a civil order, not a criminal order. The violation of a PFA is a criminal matter and could be addressed by the police and/or the District Attorney’s Office. The court order may include any of the following:
It is important to note that a PFA is not a guarantee of safety – it is one tool that can be used to deter one person from abusing another and is only one part of a comprehensive safety plan. Victims of domestic violence may also be interested in registering with PA SAVIN, Pennsylvania’s offender release notification service.
If you would like assistance or information related to other steps you can take to increase your safety, please call the Philadelphia Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-866-SAFE-014 or contact the Victim/Witness Services Unit at 215-686-8027. If you are in immediate danger, please call 911.
Am I eligible for a Protection from Abuse Order?
The Protection from Abuse Act focuses on preventing abuse between family or household members, sexual or intimate partners, or persons who have children together. You may be eligible if such a person:
How do I obtain a Protection from Abuse Order?
You can file for a Protection from Abuse Orders at the following locations and times:
Please note that a Protection from Abuse Order is a civil order, not a criminal order. The violation of a PFA is a criminal matter and could be addressed by the police and/or the District Attorney’s Office.
I have a Protection from Abuse Order and it has been violated. What do I do?
Call 911 immediately and report the violation. Once the police arrive at your location, you may be asked to show a copy of the Protection from Abuse Order. It is therefore recommended that you keep a copy with you at all times. Pennsylvania State Police and Philadelphia Police keep a record of all active protection orders, so the officer may need to confirm that your order is valid before making an arrest. Although a Protection from Abuse order is not a criminal order, violation of a Protection from Abuse order is a crime and is subject to criminal prosecution.
Note: Police will NOT evict your abuser from your home unless the order specifically states "eviction."
I received a Stay Away Order in court. Is that the same thing as a Protection from Abuse Order?
No. Stay Away Orders are temporary, are issued by Judges, and are only good for one year or until the associated criminal case is resolved. Additionally, Stay Away Orders are not entered into the police computer system. For a permanent Protection from Abuse Order, you must go to 34 South 11th Street (8:30am-5:00pm) or the Criminal Justice Center (5:00pm-8:30am) and file for a Protection from Abuse Order. All active protection orders are recognized by the Pennsylvania State Police and the Philadelphia Police.
I am the victim in a domestic violence case and I want to drop charges. How do I drop charges?
The decision to file and/or drop charges in criminal cases belongs to the District Attorney's Office. As the victim, your input related to the case will be considered, but the final decision about whether to drop or move forward with criminal charges is made by the District Attorney's Office.