Trying to get free from domestic violence can be a difficult journey. For many people, an important step is getting a Protection From Abuse Order from the courts. SafeNet's legal representation program guides hundreds of victims through the PFA process each year. Some victims of domestic violence hire a private attorney to help them, but the majority seeking protection from abuse file with no legal assistance.
Incredibly, over 928 people requested PFAs in Erie County last year. The staff at the PFA office in the courthouse can legally provide clerical assistance only. So those filing on their own may have a lot of unanswered questions about how to prepare for their court appearance and what exactly a PFA can and can't do to protect them.
To address this problem, the PFA office shows a video detailing the PFA process and procedures. Unfortunately, the laws regarding PFAs in Pennsylvania have changed significantly since the video was created 11 years ago. But one local group has come to the rescue. The Junior League of Erie has been a great supporter of SafeNet and a champion for victims of abuse for many years. Recently, the organization took on the daunting project of creating a new PFA video. The video has become an important up-to-date resource for victims of violence in understanding and benefiting from the PFA process.
SafeNet worked directly with the Junior League throughout the project. Erie County Judges Stephanie Domitrovich and John Trucilla also lent their talents. And the Erie County's Sheriff Office, many local actors and Junior League members gave their time and energy to the production. The video was filmed and directed by Erie-based GDM Films led by Paul Gorman.
A second phase of the project is now underway. The PA Coalition Against Crime and Delinquency has granted SafeNet funding to add closed captions in English and Spanish to the video, which will make the information accessible to an even wider audience. When victims of domestic violence are well informed of the PFA process and the protections it provides, its effectiveness greatly increases.