The Problem

Domestic Violence in Pinellas County

Pinellas County is ranked 5th out of 67 counties for highest rates domestic violence in Florida

43 domestic violence homicides in Pinellas County since 2015

32,115 reported incidents of in Pinellas County since 2015

$132,000,000 of economic impact in Pinellas County each year

Navigating the System as a Survivor

Minimum Requirements of a Domestic Violence Victim

*Based on the first 45 days following a domestic violence incident with children.

Travel 20 times

Tell story 17 times

Fill out 289 pages of paperwork

53 hours missed from work

Receiving 10 pamphlets is really overwhelming. You are so mentally drained and dreading going in front of a judge and telling your story. At that time, I wasn’t comfortable telling my story so I didn’t want to tell my story 10 times at 10 different places. If I had one place to go and could tell my story once, that would be much less overwhelming.
-Pinellas County Survivor

A Better Way

When Michelle’s husband left in the back of a police car after trying to kill her at gunpoint in front of their son, she was injured, terrified, and alone. Little did Michelle know, this horrific, life-defining event was just the beginning of the pain and suffering she would experience.

Between navigating the criminal justice system, civil legal services, medical care, forensic exams, housing assistance, crisis counseling, and child services, Michelle felt defeated.

She found herself making dozens of trips throughout Pinellas County, missing days of work at a time, and retelling her story over and over to well-meaning personnel who lacked the sensitivity she so desperately needed. Michelle thought, there has to be a better way.

There is a better way. CASA is taking decades of experience in community collaboration and survivor support to bring a successful nationwide model of service delivery to Pinellas County.

The Family Justice Center by CASA will provide streamlined services for survivors and their children that dramatically increase access to help and safety in one place.

Endorsed by the U.S. Department of Justice, the Family Justice Center model reduces the likelihood of a client being exposed to repetitive incidents, experiencing homelessness, and being murdered.

The Plan

A nationwide best-practice model for public health & safety endorsed by the U.S. Department of Justice. The Family Justice Center will bring comprehensive, collaborative, trauma-informed, free services together in one place.

Services

Childcare

Children have a safe, calm environment to play while a parent or caregiver receives support services on-site.

Law Enforcement

Police take reports, gather evidence, and help enforce court orders.

Medical Services

Provide trauma-informed healthcare

  • Strangulation Assessment
  • Evidence Collection
  • Forensic Medical Exams for Sexual Assault
  • Behavioral Health

Health care services are available to domestic violence victims and their children, with or without insurance.

Criminal & Civil Legal Services

  • Specialized attorneys for Injunction for Protection retraining orders
  • Civil attorneys to assist with divorce and/or dependency cases, immigration, and more
  • Justice advocacy to support in prosecution of domestic violence offender

Mental Health Services

Trauma-informed counselors provide free individual and group therapy for survivors and their children at all stages of healing.

Advocacy

The Family Justice Center by CASA will provide free & confidential services to adults, and children affected by domestic violence, human trafficking, elder abuse, and child abuse.

Advocacy services include but are not limited to:

  • Crisis Counseling
  • Safety Planning
  • Lethality Assessment
  • Rapid Rehousing Program Referral
  • Domestic Violence Relocation Assistance*
  • Address Confidentiality Assistance*
  • and much more

*Only certified Domestic Violence Center Advocates can assist with a Domestic Violence Relocation & Address Confidentiality 

Connections to Resources

The CASA Family Justice Center will meet the immediate needs of survivors and their children. Advocates will provide a warm connection to additional resources unique to the survivor or child’s needs.

Our Partners

State Attorney’s Office Of The Sixth Judicial Circuit

Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office

St. Petersburg Police Department

BayCare

Gulfcoast Legal Services

Learning Empowered

Suncoast Sexual Assault Services

Office of the Attorney General Injunction Team

Pinellas County Clerk of the Circuit Court

Community Law

The Juvenile Welfare Board

The Well for Life

Goals of The Family Justice Center

Increase victim safety

Increase victim cooperation

Increase perpetrator accountability

Increase evidence collection

Increase communication & collaboration with professionals working with victims

Increase communication & collaboration with professionals working with victims

Reduce Homicides

Ensure needs of victims and children are met

Join a Community of support and restore hope for survivors

“The St. Petersburg Police Department sees first-hand the fear and hardships victims face when experiencing domestic violence. Our department already has a strong partnership with CASA to help survivors of domestic violence access the support they need. However, we are looking forward to continuing our partnership with the Family Justice Center initiative.”

Anthony Holloway, Chief of Police, St. Petersburg Police Department

“During my 40 years at the State Attorney’s office, I have experienced difficulties prosecuting domestic violence cases largely because survivors lack of access to supportive services. That is why I whole heartedly look forward to being involved in CASA’s Family Justice Center. This initiative will not only give survivors the support they need but create a collaborative system to hold perpetrators accountable.”

Bruce Bartlett, State Attorney, Sixth Judicial Circuit

“I see the tremendous wisdom in having one place for them [survivors] to go where they can address so many different issues... The court system looks forward to being involved with this, we’ll certainly lend our support.”

Hon. Jack Helinger, Judge, Sixth Judicial Court

“In the city of Saint Petersburg, we’re working hard to build a city of opportunity that positively serves all of the citizens in our community. We know that this initiative will help us toward that goal.”

Dr. Kanika Tomalin, Deputy Mayor, St. Petersburg

“It's important that we look at the view from the victim's perspective and how we can create a process that makes it easier for them to walk through the bureaucracy of getting their voice heard in the system.”

Jeff Brandes, Florida Senator, Pinellas County

“Whenever we remove barriers, parents can heal, and children can thrive. With the comprehensive services that will be available at the CASA Family Justice Center, there will be reduced fear and anxiety from both children and parents.”

Amy Foster, St. Petersburg City Council Member, Executive Director, HLA

“At United Way Suncoast, our strategic plan is focused severing the constraints that prevent families from thriving. With financial abuse occurring in 99% of domestic violence relationships, victims find themselves choosing between freedom from abuse or financial stability. That is why we are proud to support CASA’s efforts to bring Florida’s first Family Justice Center to Pinellas. The comprehensive services offered at the FJC will help survivors break free from abuse and give them a path to a more promising future.”

Jessica Muroff, CEO, United Way Suncoast

“The trauma that occurs after family violence lingers long after the incident, or incidents, have occurred. CASA’s One Place, provides access to services and supports for families to begin their healing journey.”

Dr. Ladonna Butler, Founder, Well For Life

“As a survivor of domestic violence, I understand how important it is to have all the services that one needs in one place, and what a huge step forward this is for domestic violence in our county.

Pat Gerard, Pinellas County Commissioner

“CASA is an organization who finds creative solutions to better serve not only the survivors of domestic violence, but their families as well.”

Matthew Silverman, President, Tampa Bay Rays

We invite you to join CASA and our partners on this journey to become the community in Florida that embraces survivors in the Family Justice Center concept so that they and their children can truly escape the bonds of violence and move into happier, healthier lives.

 

For Naming opportunities contact Lariana Forsythe, CEO, at lforsythe@casapinellas.org or (727) 895-4912