ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — October is a time to raise awareness for many organizations, including those that aim to help domestic violence victims.

  • St. Pete organization raising awareness of domestic violence
  • CASA urging people to talk about issue using #CallItWhatItIs on social media
  • CASA has 24-hour hotline for anyone who needs help: 727-895-4912

CASA in St. Pete is urging people to talk about domestic violence this month to help raise awareness. They’ve started a campaign where they’re encouraging people to use the hashtag #CallItWhatItIs on social media. The hope is that as the stigma surrounding domestic violence is diminished, more victims can be helped. 

“We need to embrace our victims, we need to help them to move forward, we need to hold those abusers accountable and say enough is enough,” Lariana Forsythe, CEO of CASA, said.  

CASA has victim advocates throughout the community helping families every day. 

One of those advocates is Zuleika Gonzalez, a domestic violence survivor herself. She helps victims navigate the criminal justice system. She sits inside a courtroom at the Pinellas County Justice Center and listens to the cases involving domestic violence. She helps victims understand the process, while also assisting them in other areas of their life. 

“Now I can give back to women and I can be the living example that this doesn’t have to define you. That you define how it affects you,” said Gonzalez.

According to CASA,  in 2018 there were 11 domestic violence-related murders in Pinellas County and 6,300 offenses reported. The goal this year, as always, is to lower those numbers.

"We're here, we want to help you, you're not alone and let us help you go through this really complicated process of figuring out what you need to do to be happy and healthy in the future of your life," Forsythe said.

CASA has a 24-hour hotline for anyone needing assistance. That number is  (727) 895-4912.