Pasco News

Domestic violence expo spreads awareness and support

NEW PORT RICHEY — According to the FBI, only 46 percent of all sexual assault is reported.

The recent Women’s 360 expo took place at the Verizon Event Center in New Port Richey to raise awareness of the problem.

Since October is domestic violence awareness month, a partnership between the Pasco County Sheriff’s Office and Lucas, Greene, and Magazine Law Firm presented the expo.

“It’s based off of women who suffered from domestic violence and who came back from it and turned their lives around, 360 degrees,” Deputy Christine Dzikonski said.

It also helps people find their voice to help the cause, and give women the support they need to speak out about domestic violence that they may have experienced or witnessed, Dzikonski continued.

“We have an internal voice,” Dzikonski said. “Our internal voice needs to be heard.”

Sheriff Chris Nocco discussed the meaning behind the expo and domestic violence in Pasco County. Deiah Riley from ABC Action News discussed the local campaign, “Taking Action Against Domestic Violence.” The TV station has scheduled a special program to air at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 16.

Riley shared some heart-breaking stories from girls who suffered violence.

“We never like to refer to people in abusive relationships as victims,” Riley said. “We prefer to call them survivors.”

Parveen Vahora, a laparoscopic gynecological surgeon, spoke about the importance of getting tested for various types of cancer that affect women — and men as well.

Representatives from Damsel in Defense showed the company’s nonlethal personal protection products for women, including stun guns, pepper sprays, and personal alarms.

VIP Black Belt Champions Training Center teaches many different types of self-defense, representatives said. A demonstration showcased Krav Maga, a self-defense system developed in Israel that is for men and women 16 and older.

Vendors displayed many products and services, from support hotlines and organizations to chocolate and accessories. Realtor Victoria Barley said she found the medical, health and wellness vendors helpful.

Participants also could donate to support domestic violence shelters in the community.

Cpl. Alan Wilkett, who helped the sheriff’s office organize the expo, said he felt strongly about the cause and how it benefits the community as a whole.

“This is really about women being empowered.” Wilkett said. “It takes a community to build a community.”

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