October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month

Domestic violence is one of the most common, and often most dangerous, calls for service the Pasco Sheriff’s Office is called to investigate. Domestic Violence Awareness Month is observed in October as a way to show survivors they’re not alone, while also bringing light to resources available to survivors. PSO reassures survivors of domestic violence that both help and resources are available. No one, not even those you love or live with, has the right to harm you physically or mentally. Knowing your rights and options is the first step to ending abuse.

Family and friends can play a vital role helping survivors of domestic violence. If you suspect a loved one may be suffering from domestic abuse, start an open conversation to address it. Survivors want to be heard, so listen without judgment and validate their feelings and experience. Ask how you can best support their decision, especially if you are concerned for their safety. Working with local resources, victims can create a personal safety plan before taking action to leave an abusive situation. If a situation ever becomes an emergency, call 9-1-1 immediately.

PSO’s Victim Advocates offer a wide array of services for survivors, and ensure that a victim’s rights are upheld throughout the investigative and judicial processes. PSO’s Victim Advocates may also act as a liaison on a survivor’s behalf, if they wish. Victim Advocates help survivors evaluate and navigate available resources, such as legal action, arranging immediate shelter for a safe place to stay, medical appointments or legal meetings.

Other resources include Sunrise of Pasco County, Inc., a local domestic and sexual violence center that provides free services like 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 provides confidential housing temporarily for those in these situations. All services provided by Sunrise are free of charge and confidential. The National Domestic Violence Hotline, which can be reached at 800-799-7233, is a free and confidential resource, providing services by phone and online chat with access to over 200 languages. Additional local resources can be found on PSO’s website at PascoSheriff.com/domestic-violence/.

This October, join PSO in raising awareness to the scourge of domestic violence. Learn to recognize the signs of abusive relationships and be a supportive friend or family member to a survivor. If you or a loved one is in need of assistance, reach out to the National Domestic Violence hotline at 800-799-7233, or to PSO by visiting PascoSheriff.com/domestic-violence/.

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