Resources for those Experiencing Domestic Violence
October is National Domestic Violence Awareness Month and the Pasco Sheriff’s Office is committed to providing information that can assist those in abusive or violent relationships find lifesaving resources. While those experiencing domestic violence may feel as though there is no where to go or may not feel as though they will be protected, resources are available and PSO is here to help.
Pasco Sheriff’s Office Victim Advocates offer a wide array of services for victims, and ensure that a victim’s rights are upheld throughout the investigation and judicial process. Pasco Sheriff’s Office Victim Advocates can assist victims in navigating the separation and the legal process, while acting as a liaison on their behalf. A Victim Advocate can aid in arranging immediate shelter if a victim needs a safe place to stay. Victim Advocates can help someone walk through available options, such as legal actions, or attend medical appointments or legal meetings. If granted permission, Advocates may contact others on behalf of the victim.
Sunrise of Pasco County, Inc. is a local domestic and sexual violence center that provides free counseling, advocacy and support services to survivors of domestic and sexual violence. Those experiencing domestic abuse often lack a safe place to stay to break the cycle of abuse, and staying with family or a friend may not be the safest option if the abuser knows where to find the victim. Sunrise of Pasco County, Inc. provides confidential temporary housing for those who do not feel safe in their living environment from abuse. Processing a range of feelings and emotions resulting from abuse can be overwhelming and confusing. Sunrise provides counseling and education in a compassionate and sensitive manner. All services provided by Sunrise are free of charge and confidential.
The National Domestic Violence Hotline is a free and confidential resource, directly serving those experiencing domestic violence, as well as their friends and family. The National Domestic Violence Hotline provides services by phone and online chat with access to 200+ languages. Once connected, victims can receive help with personalized safety planning, referrals to local resources, crisis intervention and more. As an additional resource for teens and young adults, The National Domestic Violence Hotline launched a service to meet the unique needs of individuals ages 12-24, accessible by phone, text and online chat.
Leaving an abuser is the most dangerous time for someone experiencing domestic violence. However, a well-planned personal safety plan can help provide a safe outcome. Working with local resources such as Sunrise of Pasco County, Inc., victims can create a plan before taking action to leave their abuser. If a situation ever becomes an emergency, victims should call 9-1-1 immediately. By proactively discussing the situation with neighbors, they can to call for help if a disturbance is heard from your home. Additionally, setting a code word to say to children, family or friends can help identify the need for law enforcement.
After leaving an abusive environment, survivors should take additional steps to build a strong and safe foundation. Under Marsy’s Law, a victim’s information related to criminal investigations is exempt from public record, unless the victim chooses to waive such protections. Victims should be sure to update contact information at places such as medical or childcare providers to ensure their abuser won’t be contacted and cannot obtain information from these service providers. Providing a photo of the abuser to co-workers or new neighbors helps these individuals know the abuser is not welcome and can help keep the survivor safe by calling law enforcement if they see them near a survivor’s home or place of work. Also walking with a coworker or friend in parking lots can help ensure safety.
With strong resources and support, leaving an abuser could save the life of someone that’s experiencing domestic violence. If you know someone in an abusive or violent situation, sharing these resources could empower them to take steps to find a safer situation. More information on resources available for those experiencing domestic violence can be found at PSO’s website at https://www.pascosheriff.com/domestic-violence/.