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Seeking Help for Domestic Abuse

Nobody deserves to be an abusive relationship. This includes physical or emotional abuse. Allegheny Health Network (AHN) is adept at screening for signs of physical and emotional abuse. Our compassionate physicians, nurses, and staff are here to help you or a loved one get domestic violence help.

Facts about domestic abuse

  • A woman is abused every 10 seconds.
  • Anyone can be a victim, regardless of age, race, culture, status, class, education, or religion.
  • Abuse victims do not cause their beatings.
  • More than half of men who abuse their female partners also abuse their children.
  • Once violence begins, it often becomes more severe and more frequent.

What is emotional, physical, or sexual abuse?

Abuse is forceful, controlling behavior that makes a person do what the abuser wants without regard to rights, body, or health. A person is identified as abused if they have suffered from intentional — usually repeated — physical or emotional harm caused by a current or past intimate partner.

Types of emotional abuse

If you are being emotionally abused, your partner might:

  • Talk to you in a way that leaves you feeling ashamed, embarrassed, afraid, helpless, or depressed
  • Make you feel as though never do anything right or “good enough”
  • Constantly criticize, belittle, or insult
  • Tell you what you can and can’t do
  • Control who you can see and speak to
  • Act protective and jealous to the point of being controlling
  • Prevent you from seeking appropriate health care
  • Threaten to harm you, loved ones, or pets
  • Withhold money or tell you what you can or cannot spend money on
  • Cause you to worry about making him or her angry

Types of physical abuse

Common types of physical abuse include:

  • Slapping, hitting, punching, kicking, strangling/choking, or burning
  • Pushing or shoving
  • Throwing objects
  • Forcing use of alcohol or drugs
  • Threatening with a knife or gun
  • Depriving you of sleep, food, and other basic needs
  • Keeping you from getting health care

Types of sexual abuse

Common types of sexual abuse include:

  • Rape, forcing an adult or child to do sexual acts against their will
  • Unwanted touching
  • Refusing to use birth control or sexually transmitted disease (STD) prevention and/or refusing to let partner do so

How to get help for an abusive relationship

Making a safety plan is a way to protect yourself and your children. Possible options include:

  • Contacting local shelters and programs for information
  • Planning escape routes
  • Packing emergency bags with cash, clothing, and important documents
  • Confiding in someone you trust and asking for help

You have the right to:

  • Seek medical attention
  • Make a police report
  • Save evidence
  • Get a written court order, called a Protection From Abuse (PFA) order

How to request a protection from abuse (PFA) Order

If you are a victim of abuse, you have the right to go to court and file a petition to request a Protection From Abuse (PFA) order. The order can provide various safety options, which may include:

  • Restraining the abuser from further harm toward you
  • Ordering the abuser to leave your household
  • Preventing the abuser from contacting or harassing you at your workplace or school
  • Giving you temporary custody of children
  • Ordering the abuser to pay temporary support

Where do i get a PFA order?

Contact the following list of resources to obtain a PFA order for domestic violence victims:

  • Family Division
    440 Ross Street, 3rd Floor, Pittsburgh, PA 15219
    9–11 a.m., weekdays
    412.350.5600
    Advocates will assist you
  • Emergency Night Court
    660 First Avenue (next to new jail), Pittsburgh, PA 15219
    After 6 p.m. and weekends
    412.350.3240
    Petition good for 24 hours
  • Your Local District Justice
    Weekdays (call for specific hours)

Legal Options for Domestic Violence Help

If you or someone you know is in an abusive relationship, the following resource can provide legal guidance:

  • Women’s Center and Shelter of Greater Pittsburgh
    Legal Advocacy Department
    8 a.m.–4 p.m., weekdays
    412.355.7400

Resource List for Domestic Violence Help

If you or someone you know is in an abusive relationship, the following resources can provide support:

  • Alice Paul House
    (Serving Indiana County)
    724.349.4444
  • Alle-Kiski Area Hope Center Hotline
    (Serving Alle-Kiski Valley)
    1.888.299.4673
  • Crisis Center North Hotline
    (Serving northern suburbs of Allegheny County)
    412.364.5556
  • Washington Women’s Shelter Hotline
    (Serving Washington and Greene Counties)
    724.223.9190
  • Womansplace Hotline
    (Serving Mon-Yough area and Allegheny County)
    412.678.4616
  • Center for Victims Womansplace Shelter
    (Serving McKeesport area and Allegheny County)
    412.678.4616
  • Women’s Center of Beaver County Hotline
    (Serving Beaver County)
    724.775.0131
  • Women’s Center and Shelter of Greater Pittsburgh Hotline
    (Serving the City of Pittsburgh and Allegheny County)
    412.687.8005
  • Physical Assault and Rape (24-Hour) Center for Victims Hotline
    412.392.8582
  • Pittsburgh Action Against Rape
    412.765.2731

For Women’s Health services in the Erie region, visit our Erie Locations pages or Find a Doctor near you.