At CASA, we call anyone who lives through the day
in a home where there is violence a “survivor.” It
takes tremendous courage to live another day. It takes
heroic courage to reach out and ask for help. We cannot
fail to respond.
Ten Things Families Can Do
How Co-Workers Can Help
How Medical Professionals Can Help
CASA’s primary service area is the southern
half of Pinellas County in Florida. CASA can be reached
by calling the 24-hour help
line, 727-895-4912. The
automated voice message will instruct you to dial “1” to
access an advocate any time, day or night.
If you live outside Pinellas County, call 800-799-SAFE
(7233) to talk to an advocate at the domestic violence
shelter in your area.
If you are in physical danger, call 911 to reach the
When you call CASA, an advocate will help you evaluate
the degree of danger that exists in the relationship
and help you prepare a safety plan to address your
immediate need. Sometimes it’s difficult to realize
the danger because you’ve coped so well for so
long. However, it is vital that you call early when
you suspect abuse so that you can come up with a safety
plan to reduce the abuser’s opportunity to hurt
you and your family. (Note: If you are calling CASA
on behalf of a friend who may be a survivor, we encourage
you to call early when you first suspect danger. The
sooner a safety plan can be put in place the better!)
Your safety plan will change as you make changes in
your behavior. CASA has been working in the community
since 1977 and has years of experience, empowering
thousands of survivors to increase their safety. The
actions you take can greatly increase your safety.
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Following is a listing of questions a CASA advocate
is likely to ask to assess the degree of danger that
exists in the relationship. It is not a perfect “test,” but
your responses to the questions can be used along
with the advocate’s experience and intuition
to determine the likelihood of an attack. Once a
danger assessment is made, you can work with a CASA
advocate to develop
an appropriate safety plan.
1. What is the current mood of the abuser?
Angry? Hostile? Depressed? Enraged?
2. Is the abuser ever known to have unpredictable,
violent mood changes?
3. Does the abuser currently have weapons or quick
access to them?
4. Is there a history of violence against people,
besides the intimate partner and children (especially
5. Does the abuser ever brag about having killed or
mutilated someone in the past?
6. Does the abuser ever "act out" in front
7. Does the abuser ever attack children?
8. What are the current expectations of the abuser
(is the victim expected to pick them up from work,
be at home when the abuser calls, etc.)?
9. Does the abuser ever do the "unexpected"
(leave work early, call at odd times)?
10. List any current stalking behavior: (phone harassment,
following the survivor, Internet stalking, searching
everywhere for the victim).
11. Has the survivor recently left your shared dwelling?
12. If you’re not living together, was there
a recent break-up?
13. Does the abuser currently believe the children
are being "hidden" or taken away from them?
14. Does the abuser currently have the children and
is the abuser known to have suicidal thoughts or behaviors?
15. Does the abuser display current violent behavior
to other people's or the survivor's property?
16. Is the abuser currently holding belongings "hostage" to
get the victim to survivor out of hiding or return?
(e.g. children's toys, money, clothing, valued possessions.)
17. Is there currently unusual credit card or bank
18. Is the abuser currently trying to locate the survivor
by saying there is death in family, claiming that children
are hurt, or threatening suicide?
19. Have you recently initiated any protective actions
like applying for an Injunction for Protection, of
filing divorce papers?
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Survivors need lots
of help, especially from family, friends, coworkers
and medical professions. If you know someone whom you
suspect is being abused, here are some things you can
Ten Things Families and Friends Can Do
From: To Be and Anchor in the Storm, A Guide for
Families and Friends of Abused Women by Susan Brewster.
- Believe her. Most battered women don’t lie
or exaggerate their abuse.
- Recognize that emotional
abuse is truly abuse.
- Open ears; shut mouth.
You can’t be listening
when you are talking.
- Respect her decisions;
don’t judge her. Don’t
give advice; giving advice tends to take away her power.
- Ask open-ended questions.
Ask her to clarify what you don’t understand.
Try to understand not just the words she speaks, but
what she is attempting to convey to you – the
meaning between the lines.
- Be a mirror. Reflect her
statements back to her. This lets her know you
are really listening and trying to understand her.
- Speak only for yourself,
not for her. Express only your feelings and observations,
not your beliefs.
- Support without over-controlling.
Control yourself, not her.
- Be patient. The establishment
of trust can’t
- If she lives in south
Pinellas County, give her CASA’s phone number,
727-895-4912. Outside Pinellas, call 800-799-SAFE
Note: In this book, female gender is used because
domestic abuse is predominately waged against women.
CASA recognizes and provides services to all people
regardless of gender, race, sexual orientation, culture
or religious beliefs.
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How Co-workers Can Help
- Be alert to possible signs of domestic abuse:
changes in behavior and work performance, lack of concentration,
increased or unexplained absences, placing or receiving
harassing phone calls, unexplained bruises or injuries
or explanations of injuries that just don't add up.
- Believe the survivor if she or he discloses the
- Listen without judging. Survivors believe her
or his abuser's negative messages and feel responsible,
ashamed, and afraid they he or she will be judged.
- Tell the survivor that she or he does not deserve
to be abused and that help is available. Give the
survivor CASA’s 24-hour access line, 727-895-4912
- Call someone from your Employee Assistance
Program for confidential advice and resources.
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How Medical Professionals Can Help.
When screening patients for domestic violence, the
goal is to validate and empower the survivor while
attending to the immediate health concerns. It is
vital that the medical professional create an atmosphere
sensitive to a survivor’s need to be respected
and taken seriously.
- Screen patients in a confidential setting,
separate from the abuser
- Phrase questions in a non-judgmental way.
- Tell survivors they do not deserve to be abused.
Offer support and safety. Encourage survivors to
make their own choices and decisions.
- Medical personnel should
assess their own attitudes and perceptions regarding
domestic violence to ensure objectivity.
During medical screening of all patients, medical
personnel should look for the following warning signs
of domestic abuse:
- Fearful, ashamed, evasive or embarrassed behaviors
- Low self-esteem
- Reluctant to speak or disagree in front of the
- Fails to make direct eye contact
- Patient or abuser
minimizes extent of injuries
- Abuser insists on accompanying
patient, answers all questions, and refuses to leave
the treatment area
- Abuser displays jealousy, obsession,
- Contusions, abrasions, lacerations, fractures
- Injuries to the head, neck, chest,
breasts, and abdomen
- Injuries during pregnancy
- Multiple site injuries
- Repeated or chronic injuries
- Injuries inconsistent with
explanation of cause
Other medical findings may present themselves:
pain, psychogenic pains, or pain due to diffused
trauma without visible evidence
- Physical symptoms related to
stress, chronic post-traumatic stress disorder, other
anxiety disorder, or depression, including threats
of suicide or past attempts
- Chronic headaches
- Abdominal and gastrointestinal complaints
dizziness, and atypical chest pain
- Gynecological problems,
frequent vaginal and urinary tract infections, and
- Frequent use of prescribed minor tranquilizers,
or pain medication
- Frequent visits with vague
complaints or symptoms without evidence of physiologic
- Injuries or unexplained pain to the breast, abdomen,
and genital area
- Substance abuse, poor nutrition,
depression, and late or sporadic access to prenatal
- "Spontaneous" abortions,
miscarriages, and premature labor
- Fetal risks, including
low birth weight, stillbirth, pre-term infant,
Other signs of abuse:
limits victim access to routine or emergency medical
- Noncompliance with
prescribed treatment regiments
- Inability to obtain or
- Missed appointments
- Lack of independent transportation, access to
finances, or telephone
- Failure to use condoms
or other contraceptive methods
- Difficulty completing
paperwork, not having identification, or medical