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Pasco Sheriff’s Office personnel are committed to protecting you! No one, not even someone that you live with or that you love, has the right to hit you, threaten you with violence or emotional abuse! If someone is abusing you, you can take action! Knowing your legal rights and other options is the first step toward ending the abuse. Call the Pasco Sheriff’s Office toll free at 1-800-854-2862.
Is Your Relationship Abusive?
Does your partner or family member abuse you in any of these ways?
- Push or shove you
- Hold you to keep you from leaving
- Slap, bite, kick or choke you
- Hit or punch you
- Throw objects at you
- Abandon you in dangerous places
- Force you to have sex
- Criticize your sexual performance
- Force you to do sex acts you don’t like
- Deny you sex
- Ignore your feelings
- Insult your beliefs, religion, race, heritage or sex
- Withhold affections as punishment
- Insult your family or friends
- Humiliate you
- Display obsessive jealousy
- Isolate you from family or friends
- Destructive Acts
- Break furniture, flood rooms, ransack or dump garbage in your house
- Slash tires, break windows, steal or tamper with parts of your car
- Abuse or kill pets to punish or frighten you
- Destroy clothing, jewelry, family photos or other personal items that are important to you
Domestic Violence Safety
Safety before and during an explosive incident:
- If an argument seems unavoidable, try to have it in a room or area that has access to an exit and not in a bathroom, kitchen, or anywhere near weapons
- Practice how to get out of your home safely. Identify which doors, windows, elevator, or stairwell would be best
- Have a packed bag ready and keep it in an undisclosed but accessible place in order to leave quickly
- Identify a neighbor you can tell about the violence and ask that they call the police if they hear a disturbance coming from you home
- Devise a code word to use with your children, family, friends and neighbors when you need the police
- Use you own instincts and judgment. If the situation is very dangerous, consider giving the abuser what he or she wants to calm them down. You have the right to protect yourself until you are out of danger
- Always remember — You don’t deserve to be hit or threatened!
Safety when preparing to leave:
- Open a savings account in your own name to start to establish or increase your independence. Think of other ways in which you can increase your independence
- Leave money, an extra set of keys, copies of important documents and extra clothes with someone you trust so you can leave quickly
- Determine who would be able to let you stay with them or lend you some money
- Keep the Shelter Helpline phone number close at hand at all times. West Pasco — (727) 856- 5797; East Pasco — (352)521-3120
- Review your safety plan as often as possible in order to devise the safest way to leave your batterer. Remember — Leaving your abuser is the most dangerous time!
Safety in you own home:
- Continue to keep the Shelter Helpline phone number close at hand at all times
- Change the locks on your doors as soon as possible. Buy additional locks and safety devices to secure your windows
- Discuss a safety plan with your children for when you are not with them
- Inform your children’s school, day care, etc., about who has permission to pick up your children
- Inform neighbors and landlord that your partner no longer lives with you and that they should call the police if they see him or her near your home
- In rural areas where only the mailbox may be visible from the street, paint the box a bright color so that law enforcement can more easily locate the home. Make sure the house number is visible
- Change all banking passwords; change voice mail password; If there are pending criminal charges, register with the Vine Protective Order to be notified immediately when the restraining order is served, hearings will be held, and when the abuser is released from jail. Contact the Vine Link (877-846-3435) at vinelink.com or at www.pascosheriff.com. Be aware of GPS technology that can track movement through cell phone or automobile
Safety with a protective order
- Keep your protective order on your person at all times!
- Call the police if your partner breaks the protective order
- Think of alternative ways to keep safe if the police cannot respond right away
- Inform family, friends and neighbors that you have a protective order in effect.
Safety on the job and in public:
- Decide who at work you will inform of your situation. This should include office or building security. Provide a picture of your batterer if possible
- Arrange to have someone screen your telephone calls if possible
- Devise a safety plan for when you leave work. Have someone escort you to your car, bus or train. Use a variety of routes to go home if possible. Think about what you would do if something happened on your way home while in your car, on the bus, etc.
Your continued safety and emotional health:
- If you are thinking about returning to a potentially abusive situation, discuss an alternative plan with someone you trust
- If you have to communicate with your partner, determine the safest way to do so
- Have positive thoughts about yourself and be assertive with others about your needs
- Read books, articles, and poems to help you feel stronger
- Decide with whom you can talk to freely and openly to give you support you need
- Plan to attend a victim’s support group for at least two weeks to gain support from others and learn more about yourself and the relationship
- If you are a teen in a violent dating relationship, decide which friend, teacher, relative or police officer with whom you can talk. Contact an advocate at the court to decide how to obtain a restraining order and make a safety plan for yourself
Law enforcement and domestic violence
After an arrest for domestic violence has been made, the suspected abuser is brought before a judge at that is called a “first appearance hearing.” The judge will determine whether there was a legal basis for the arrest. If so, the judge will consider the seriousness of the crime, the suspect’s past criminal history and the suspect’s ties to the community. Based on these factors, the judge will either set a bond or release the suspect subject to certain conditions. Your input is very important to the judge. If you want your opinions heard about the release of the suspect please call the domestic violence advocate at (727) 844-7780. The court times vary, but your advocate can accompany you to this hearing, appear on your behalf if you are unable, and can provide you with the outcome of the hearing.
A person who has been arrested on domestic violence charges may be eligible to participate in the State Attorney’s Office Domestic Violence Diversion Program. This is a deferred prosecution treatment program available to some offenders upon approval of the State Attorney’s Office. Participants pay fees for processing and weekly group treatment sessions. Upon successful completion of the program, the case will be dismissed. You can call the Victim/Witness Office located in the State Attorney’s Office for details, at (727) 847-8160 or 8158 for west Pasco, or (352) 521-4333 for east Pasco.
If the suspect is not eligible for the Diversion Program, the next court appearance will be in about 2-3 weeks at the arraignment. You do not need to be at this hearing unless you so choose. At the arraignment, the suspect will announce a plea. In some instances the judge may accept a “no-contest” plea or a “guilty” plea, and sentence the offender at this point. If the plea announced is “not guilty,” the next court appearance will be a pretrial approximately three weeks later. After the pre-trial, a trial date will be set. Your domestic violence advocate can keep you updated on the court schedules and the outcome at each stage, or will accompany you to court.
You have the right to go to court and file a petition requesting an injunction for protection from domestic violence which may include, but is not limited to, provisions which restrain the abuser from further acts of abuse; direct the abuser to leave your household; prevent the abuser from entering your residence, school, business, or place of employment; award you temporary custody of minor children; and direct the abuser to pay support to you and the minor children if the abuser has a legal obligation to do so.
We will assist you with filing a petition to obtain an injunction for protection. You can ask even if you cannot afford to pay court fees. The court clerk will help you complete the appropriate forms. Even if you have left your home, you can still apply for an injunction for protection. If you called law enforcement, and no arrest was made, a report will be filed with the State Attorney’s Office for review. An investigator will be contacting you, so it is important all agencies involved have a current address for you, or information on where you can be contacted, which will remain confidential.
After you file your petition, the judge can sign a temporary injunction, which can be obtained on the same day, without a hearing and without the abuser knowing first. A temporary injunction lasts for a stated period of time not to exceed 15 days and is given to you by the judge when you are in immediate danger of being hurt. A permanent injunction can go into effect later. This injunction is for a stated period of time not to exceed one year, unless extended by the court. The judge may want to hold a hearing before signing the permanent injunction.
A person who refuses to follow a judge’s order can be put in jail. If the abuser disobeys the judge’s order, contact the police or Sheriff’s Office and show them the certified copy of the injunction. In some cases the officer will arrest the abuser. Also, you can ask the judge to hold the abuser responsible for not following the judge’s order.
If you need help or have any questions:
Shelter For Abused Women of Pasco County
Domestic Violence Counselor
East Pasco: Sunrise (352) 521-3120
West Pasco: Salvation Army (727) 856-5797
United Way Helpline
First Call For Help
(727) 845-4357 or 1-877-828-8929
Clerk of the Circuit Court
(For domestic violence injunction applications)
West Pasco (727) 847-8176
East Pasco (352) 521-4517
Pasco Sheriff’s Office
EMERGENCIES: DIAL 911
Victim Advocate Unit — (727) 844-7793