Essential Pittsburgh: The High Cost of Protection From Abuse

Mar 16, 2015

When faced with an abusive partner, many women seek out a restraining order to get protection and regain some control over their lives. But according to a new study from the University of Pittsburgh, getting out of an abusive relationship can be quite costly for women who try to obtain restraining orders. Sociologists Melanie Hughes and Lisa Brush address the financial disruption in women’s lives when they petition the courts to leave abusive relationships. 

Lisa discusses the focal points and the results of this study.

"What we really wanted to understand was if we compared women to themselves before and after they went through the process of petitioning ... did they have a boost in their earnings and an increase afterwards in the wake?”

She continues by presenting the other possibility for the results.

“Or was there an economic shock or a stall in their earnings? And in fact we found out that the period right around the time when they’re petitioning is full of all kinds of turmoil and um pretty much everybody experiences a shock and lots of women experience a stall in their earnings.”

Also, in this program we speak with Attorney Lisa A. Borelli Dorn about what it takes to file a protection from abuse order. And what prospects does the RMU men's basketball team have for making it to the Final Four? 

The Price of Protection (0:00)

When faced with an abusive partner, many women seek out a restraining order to get protection and regain some control over their lives. But according to a new study from the University of Pittsburgh, getting out of an abusive relationship can be quite costly for women who try to obtain restraining orders. Sociologists Melanie Hughes and Lisa Brush address the financial disruption in women’s lives when they petition the courts to leave abusive relationships.

A listener and survivor of partner violence, Carla from Pittsburgh, called to share her story:

“ I did not seek a PFA for personal reasons, but extracting myself from that relationship was totally and utterly financially devastating for me.”

She continues to explain the impact this situation had on her life:

“When I finally left, I left in the middle of the night with everything I could stuff into a garbage bag and my computer. That was all I took with me and that is all I started with. It’s taken me six months to really start to even build the basic info structure of my life again."

For those who are, or those who know someone that is subject to abuse, the Women's Center and Shelter of Greater Pittsburgh has a 24-hour hotline: 412-687-8005 (local) 1-877-338-8255 (toll free) or contact Standing Firm.

For more general crime and crisis support, the Center for Victims' 24-hour number is 1-866-644-2882.

Restraining Orders (26:01)

Orders of protection, better known as restraining orders, are an option presented to people trying to escape abusive relationships. While they don’t always stop an abuser from stalking or hurting their intended victim, they do allow the victim to call the police and have the abuser arrested. Attorney Lisa A. Borelli Dorn explains what steps must be taken to obtain a restraining order and who can get them.

Robert Morris Hoop Team Back In The Big Dance (37:34)

The Robert Morris men's basketball team has earned its first NCAA tournament bid since 2010 after defeating St. Francis in the Northeast Conference Tournament title game. Colonials head coach Andy Toole talks about the team's prospects for reaching the Final Four.

To leave a question or comment before or after the show dial 412-256-8783. More Essential Pittsburgh segments can be heard here.