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1. What should I know about a PFA?


A PFA stands for a Protection From Abuse order. There is no such thing as a restraining order in Pennsylvania, although many people call a PFA a restraining order. A PFA is a court order that protects someone from abuse from their abuser. You must meet with an advocate first before speaking with HAVEN’s lawyer. There is no cost to file a PFA. If there is an emergency situation during non-business hours and/or a judge is not available, a survivor may be able to get an emergency PFA. To do this, call 911 and state that you would like an emergency PFA and need to contact your District Magistrate. If your request is granted the emergency PFA lasts until the next business day when you need to obtain a temporary PFA with the assistance of a HAVEN advocate on their next business day.  If you have any questions about obtaining an emergency PFA, please call us!


  • Even if a person has experienced abuse, they are not guaranteed to be granted a PFA.

  • HAVEN does not issue PFAs.  These are court documents and must be handled by the courts and a judge.

  • Applying for a PFA takes several hours to complete, so take the appropriate measures to make sure you can be in the office for several hours if needed.

  • If possible it is better to call to make an appointment. 

In order to qualify for a PFA, an abuser must be one or more of the following:

  • Current or past spouse

  • Present or past sexual/intimate partner

  • Blood relative

  • Family member related by marriage

  • Household member

You may qualify for a PFA if your abuser is:

  • Attempting or threatening to cause bodily injury. This includes punching, kicking, slapping, pinching, throwing objects at the victim, using a weapon, strangling, threatening, etc.

  • Physically or sexually abusing minor children and/or adult

  • False imprisonment (not letting the victim leave, blocking the exit)

  • Causing the victim to be in fear of their physical safety due to past abuse, stalking, and harassing

What you can ask for in a PFA (you choose what you need): 

  • No abuse, stalking, or harassing 

  • No contact from the abuser

  • Make the abuser leave the home

  • Temporary custody of the children

  • Order to remove all weapons from abuser

  • Order to stop abuser from buying any weapons in the future

  • Order the abuser to pay support and other losses (damages to property, medical bills, insurance coverage, etc.) 

  • Order the abuser to attend a batterers' program and/or get a drug and alcohol assessment

2. What should I know about PSVI/SVPO?


PSVI stands for Protection from Sexual Violence and Intimidation; it has only been in effect since July 1, 2015. There are two types of orders for this protection, the SVPO (Sexual Violence Protection Order) and the PFI (Protection From Intimidation). These orders are designed to protect adults and minors from such acts as sexual violence, harassing, stalking, and intimidation.


These protection orders are similar to PFAs, however, a victim must not have a previous relationship history with the abuser in order to obtain. For example: A victim could obtain a SVPO, if s/he has been sexually assualted by a coworker (with whom s/he has no other relationship [past or present] with other than "Coworker"). Or: A minor may obtain a PVI, if s/he is being harassed or stalked by an elder.


If the abuser is:

  • a family member - PFA is issued

  • a stranger - SVPO/PFI 

  • an ex intimate partner - PFA

  • coworker or acquaintance - SVPO/PFI


3. Will you help me get custody of my kids?

HAVEN is staffed with many employees including one lawyer. Her work is always free and she is highly skilled. You must meet with an advocate who will first assess your situation before you can talk to HAVEN’s lawyer. She strictly works with domestic and sexual violence survivors. HAVEN does not provide representation for custody, divorce, or anything else that is unrelated to domestic and/or sexual abuse. If you are a survivor of domestic and/or sexual abuse one of HAVEN’s employees can assist you in preparing the necessary paperwork and can accompany you to the hearing. 


4. What are my options?

You can make an appointment with one of HAVEN’s advocates to discuss your options. Once the advocate has assessed your situation they will give you your options. We provide: 


  • 24-hour toll-free hotline – trained advocates are available 24/7 to take your call, including holidays and weekends.

  • Empowerment and options counseling – Our advocates can discuss what options are available and provide individual or group counseling.

  • Advocacy – Advocates can provide active support for a variety of issues.

  • Medical and Legal Accompaniment – our advocates can go with you to the hospital and to court hearings in order to provide emotional support.

  • Legal Services – Our staff attorney can represent you in court and can assist you in attaining a Protection From Abuse Order (PFA)

  • Children’s Services – Our advocates provide services to children who are survivors or have witnessed abuse.

  • School and Community Programs – We offer a variety of prevention education programs focusing on healthy relationships, consent, Mandatory Reporter Training, becoming engaged bystanders, and anti-bullying.

  • Information and Referrals – If we do not provide a service you need, we give referrals to another agency.

  • Assistance in Filing Crime Victims Compensation Claims – If you are a survivor of a crime or have obtained a PFA, you may be eligible for financial assistance through this state program.

  • Emergency Housing – HAVEN has Hope Houses throughout Tioga County and may provide safe housing for up to 30 days while you determine your next step.


​5. What happens to me if emergency safe shelter is full?

Because there are many individuals looking for emergency housing and sometimes no beds are available, HAVEN staff members will try to help you find alternate accommodations at a neighboring emergency housing.


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