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CASA, Inc.
How is CASA funded?
CASA is funded through the county, state and federal government..

How do I make a donation/become a member of CASA?
CASA welcomes your support and depends on your donations to supplement the public grants we receive. Learn more about making donations.

Who does CASA serve?
CASA serves individuals and families who have experienced or have been impacted by domestic violence, sexual assault/abuse, and rape. This includes those directly affected by the abuse of a loved one such as family members, spouses, significant others, and children who have witnessed domestic violence. Services for perpetrators of domestic violence, both male and female, are also available through our Abuser Intervention Program. Learn more about our programs and services.

Is there help for the families of victims?
Yes. CASA recognizes that acts of domestic violence and sexual abuse also impact those who know and care about the victim. We refer to these individuals as "secondary victims." Secondary victims may need to deal with feelings associated with the abuse, and/or how to support their loved one. Services, including our 24 hour hotline, are available to secondary victims. (301.739.8975)

How much does CASA's services cost?
CASA is a non-profit agency. Our counseling and shelter services are based on a very reasonable sliding scale fee. No one is turned away, however, due to an inability to pay.

Will somebody see me right away?
Yes. The intake process for counseling begins with you coming in and talking with a crisis/intake counselor for up to three appointments. This allows your immediate needs to be addressed promptly. If you desire, you can then request assignment to a therapist for ongoing therapy. Other services are also provided with little to no wait.

What if I am starting over?

Many of our clients find the Employment/Training Program and Legal Services Program helpful when they are trying to begin anew.

What is domestic violence?
Domestic violence is a pattern of coercive behavior used to establish power and control over another person--usually an intimate partner. It happens when one person believes they are entitled to control another and can include physical, psychological, emotional, verbal, sexual, and/or economic abuse. Learn more about domestic violence.

If someone is in an abusive relationship, why don't they just leave?
It isn't always that simple. Abusive relationships can develop gradually. The relationship seems loving at times, giving hope that the abuse will end. Also, the person may be afraid they will be harmed more, or even killed, if they try to leave. Children are often involved and the victim may be financially dependent on the abuser. Every situation is different!

If violent episodes only happen once in awhile, is the situation really that serious?
Yes. The threat of violence is a terrorizing means of control no matter how far apart the episodes happen. Each incident is a reminder of the violence that has already occurred and creates fear for what could happen in the future.

Is it still abuse if I'm not being hit?
Not all abuse is physical. Other forms include pyschological/emotional, verbal, economic, and sexual abuse. Any type of abusive behavior is harmful and unacceptable. Just because you haven't been hit doesn't mean you aren't being abused. And, remember, the other forms of abuse often escalate to physical violence over time. Learn more about the many forms of domestic violence.

What if my partner apologizes?
It is important to know that there is a distinct three phase cycle of violence in abusive relationships. The cycle begins with the "Tension Building Phase," which can be a short or long period of irrational arguments and walking on eggshells that leads to the serious "Explosive Phase" where verbal and physical abuse occurs. Apologies are part of what is called the "Honeymoon Phase." This is the period where the abuser promises to change, begs for forgiveness, gives gifts, and tries to rationalize their abusive behavior. The apologies are repeated and the cycle starts again.

What can I do if I am in an abusive relationship?
If you're experiencing any type of abuse, it's important to recognize the situation and realize that you do not have to take it. Devise a safety plan and practice how to get out safely during an explosive incident. Contact our 24 hour hotline at 301.739.8975 (301.739.1012 TTY) for information about shelter, counseling, legal rights, and other support services. If you are threatened and fear for your life, call 911 immediately.

What can I do if I know someone who is in an abusive relationship?

Over 55% of Americans say they know someone who has been involved in an abusive relationship. There are some basic steps that you can take to help. First, encourage the person to express their hurt and anger and be an active listener. A simple, honest response like, "that's abuse" can help to validate any uncertain feelings. Don't try to "see the other side"--there is no other side when it comes to abuse. Avoid putting down the abuser as this could make the victim defensive. Instead, give support and understanding and allow the person to make their own decisions, even if it means they are not ready to leave the abusive relationship. Share information about available resources, reinforce concern for any children involved, encourage them to keep a record of all abusive incidents, and maintain confidentiality. Remember to assure them that the abuse is not their fault AND they are not alone--many people are in abusive situations and find it difficult to leave.

What is a protective order?
A protective order is a civil, legal order issued by a District or Circuit Court judge and can be granted for up to one year. The person who files the paperwork is the petitioner and the alleged abuser is the respondent. The judge can order the respondent to stay away and refrain from further abuse.

Where can I apply for a protective order?
You can file for a protective order, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. During business hours, you can walk-in and file for a civil protective order at the District or Circuit Court Clerk's Office. If the court offices are closed, you have the right to file a petition for an interim protective order with the on-duty Commissioner--they are open after hours and on weekends. For more information about protective orders, call CASA's Legal Advocate at 301.739.4990.

What is sexual assault/abuse and rape?
Sexual assault/abuse is any type of sexual behavior committed against a person without their explicit permission. Examples include harassment, unwanted or inappropriate touching, exposing/flashing, fondling, and penetration with any object. Sexual abuse is differentiated from sexual assault by the relationship of the victim to the offender. Sexual assault becomes sexual abuse when the offender is a family or household member or an individual who has "temporary care or custody or responsibility for supervision" of the child (Family Law, 5-701).

Rape is a specific type of sexual assault that involves forced, manipulated, or coerced penetration of the vagina, anus, or mouth, with any object. Sexual assault, sexual abuse and rape are all crimes! They are acts of violence motivated by a need to control, humiliate and harm others. The offender can be a stranger or someone the victim knows including a spouse, date, or family member. Learn more about sexual assault/abuse and rape.

Is it still considered rape if you have had sex with the person before?
Yes. Any time a person forces someone to have sex it is rape. Just because you consented to have sex in the past, does not give a person the right to demand sex later.

Why is it so important to report sexual assault?
Abusers thrive on secrecy. When you choose to report sexual violence, not only do you receive the help and support that you deserve, it could prevent the person from doing it again--most perpetrators are repeat offenders.

Is CASA required to report crimes of domestic violence and sexual assault?
When a crime occurs against an adult (defined as someone who has the physical and mental capability to provide for his daily needs), we are not mandated to report it as it is that person's choice to file charges. However, in Maryland, by law, if an adult reports being abused as a child and provides the identity of the abuser, a report must be made. All child abuse must also be reported according to the law.

What should I do if I am sexually assaulted or raped?




The rapist may have been someone you know--more than 75% of all rapes are committed by someone the victim knows. If you do not know the attacker, try to get a description. Notice hair and skin color, scars and tattoos. If a car is involved, try to get the color, model, year and license plate number.
Get to a safe place as quickly as possible.
Do not bathe, douche, shower, comb your hair, or change your clothes. You may destroy important evidence that is needed by the police and that could be used if you choose to take legal action.
Call the police (911) and someone you trust for support.
Get medical attention. If you go to a hospital emergency room within 72 hours, they can collect evidence of the assault. Regardless of when you go to the hospital, you can be examined for injuries and tested for sexually transmitted infections and pregnancy.
Remember that it is NOT your fault!
Talk to someone. It is important to understand and deal with your feelings about the assault. It will help you in your recovery. You don't have to face this alone--CASA's hotline number is 301.739.8975 and help is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. You can call anonymously if that helps.
Learn more about sexual assault/abuse and rape.

What should I do if someone I know is sexually assaulted or raped?
When supporting someone who has been sexually assaulted or raped, it is important not to be judgmental and not to take away their control. It will greatly assist in the healing if you can communicate these four ideas:

"It's not your fault"
"I'm sorry it happened"
"I'm glad you survived"
"You did everything you could do"





Listen, and do not just give advice. If you are asked what to do, offer a couple of options, but allow them to make their own decisions.
Do not ask if they did anything to lead the attacker on, what they were wearing, why they were out at night or any other questions that imply that they might be to blame.
Ask for permission before touching. Hugging a friend or holding their hand may be a natural response, however, in this situation it is important to ask if that would be comforting first.
Offer to help by contacting CASA, driving them to the hospital, and/or calling the police if they desire. Stay with them during the interview and examination if they want.
Don't say they will get "over" the assault/rape.
Always respect their confidentiality. Do not tell anyone else that they were raped, unless they have explicitly asked you to do so.
Learn more about sexual assault/abuse and rape.

What is a Sexual Assault Response Team (SART)?
A Sexual Assault Response Team (SART) is a group of community-based professionals that work together to respond to crimes of sexual violence. They are trained to help victims work through the tragic experience of sexual assault. Team members include law enforcement officers, State's Attorney's Office, forensic nurse examiners, and skilled advocates for victim's rights. Washington County's SART was established in July 2003.

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