TAMPA, Fla. — While preventing domestic violence is always the goal, it isn’t always realistic, which is why community partnerships to help perfect the response to these situations is all the more important.
When it comes to victim safety and prosecuting offenders, local agencies are always working to make improvements. That’s the job of the Coordinated Community Response (CCR) team in Hillsborough County, led by Tenille Myslicki from The Spring of Tampa Bay.
“Before, we were really operating in our silos, we were all doing important work, but like individually, with our own team, with our own area, and so this really gives us an opportunity to come together, come to the same tables and discuss what we can do to make improvements,” said Tenille Myslicki, Coordinated Community Response Manager with The Spring of Tampa Bay.
Through funding from the Department of Justice’s Office on Violence Against Women back in 2018, Hillsborough County received a grant that they then passed along to The Spring of Tampa Bay in an effort to fill in the gaps and improve the response to domestic violence in our area. A big part of that is training.
“We’ve trained over 5,000 stakeholders in just a two year period, and one of the gaps we identified was that there wasn’t a lot of training on strangulation in our system, and we know that’s a precursor to eventual domestic violence homicide,” said Myslicki.
This includes training for law enforcement, domestic violence centers like The Spring, the State Attorney’s Office, the Public Defender’s Office, and a list of others.
“Domestic violence is a serious issue, that’s one of the top priorities of our office, but unfortunately we do have hundreds if not thousands of other cases that we’re dealing with, so while it may be something that individual state attorneys want to work on, having somebody like Tenille, whose sole job it is to bring all of these agency partners together, and kind of hold us accountable almost in a way,” said Elizabeth Muller, Assistant State Attorney in Hillsborough County.
The Coordinated Community Response team is made up of dozens of members who meet monthly to go over what improvements need to be made.
“One of the things we looked at is how we could better prosecute the cases without the victims cooperation. Because like we said, while it’s important, and we want them to be on board, we want to make sure that we’re holding these offenders accountable regardless of putting that pressure on the victim,” said Muller.
They’ve also made improvements to the ‘no contact order,’ providing more information to the offender about what things they’re not supposed to do.
They’re steps in the right direction, and fortunately, the Department of Justice has extended their funding through September of 2022, and they’re hopeful they can continue their work from there.
“There’s so much more that still needs to happen, and I think that we’ll get there. I do think it will take longer than 3 years, 4 years,” said Myslicki.
If you or someone you know is a victim of domestic violence they want to remind you there are resources available.
The Spring of Tampa Bay has a 24 hour crisis hotline you can reach by calling or texting 813-247-SAFE.
They can also help provide you with shelter or legal representation.