MILFORD - New legislation increasing protection for victims of domestic violence under the Protection From Abuse (PFA) Act will become effective in May. Changes to act include: increasing in the duration of a protection order from 18 months to three years, empowering judges to order the relinquishment of a defendant’s firearms while a protection order is in place, providing judges the authority to order supervised probation of a defendant for indirect criminal contempt of a protection order, and mandated extension of an order upon a finding of contempt for violation of that order. Susan Kelly-Dreiss, Executive Director of the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Domestic Violence explained the need for the increased protections in the existing PFA law was “
compelling in light of the alarming rate of domestic violence-related fatalities in our Commonwealth. (In 2004) 110 women, men and children were murdered in acts of domestic violence.” By November of 2005, there were 111 cases of domestic violence-related murders reported for the year. Pat Kett of Survivors Resources of Milford said it is imperative that as citizens of the Commonwealth be aware of these changes. Those involved in a violent relationship need to know what the law can do to protect them. “Often, we feel powerless in the face of a family member or friend who is involved in a violent relationship. Having this information and sharing it allows us to do what we can,” she wrote. As with all other issues, responsibility lies on every level. The person involved needs to recognize it and reach out for help. Families and friends of victims need to support that individual as much as possible. Law enforcement needs to enforce the law to the best of their ability. As a society, we need to offer support and understanding for all of the above, but be zero tolerant of even one injury or death as a result of domestic violence, Kett stated. Survivors’ Resources, Inc. services include free and confidential individual empowerment counseling, including career counseling, educational outreach programs in two school systems in Pike County, group counseling sessions, legal advocacy and community outreach. There is a 24-hour crisis hotline at 570-296-4357 (HELP), staffed by volunteers who have completed a 60-hour training course. Survivors’ Resources, Inc. welcomes support and new volunteers. For more, call Peggy at 570-296-2827.