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Sexual abuse survivors could benefit from new protection act

The Sexual Violence Victim Protection Act has opened the door for survivors of sexual abuse to seek a measure of protection from their abuser.

It is one of three different civil protection order options that offer victims of certain crimes relief from further harm from a perpetrator.

Sexual Violence Protection Orders are appropriate in cases of sexual violence where the victim and perpetrator do not have and have never had a family, household or intimate relationship and can be filed regardless of age.

Civil protection orders can be filed whether or not the incident has been reported to the police. As of Sept. 1, PCAR staff have trained approximately 825 people on the new protection order from 26 groups across Pennsylvania, with 9 more scheduled through the end of the year. We've also produced an official webinar for groups to reference.

Related: Protection of Victims of Sexual Violence or Intimidation Act: What you need to Know (Webinar)

During trainings, staff review both basic and complex scenarious with advocates, attorneys, law enforcement and judges to demonstrate options and procedures at each step of the process.

“We made ourselves very available for training,” said Karen Galbraith, training project specialist at PCAR. “We don’t want anyone to feel like a guinea pig; to be able to say to someone, ‘Your county knows about this,’ is such a relief for a person in crisis.”

Ultimately, the decision on what course of action to take rests with the victim, Galbraith said. The more options a victim has available, the better.
If you are considering filing a civil protection order, you may find it helpful to contact your local sexual assault advocacy program, legal services or an attorney to throughly review your options.