Leave this site safely

Click Exit button here to open a new tab and have this page redirect to Google. Learn more

Got It

Prep & Planning

Safety planning can be a helpful tool to lower your risk of being hurt while assessing the danger of your situation. You can safety plan while you’re in an abusive relationship, when you’re planning to leave, and after you’ve left. There is no specific way to safety plan, but here are a few recommendations.

During the relationship

Identify the safest areas in your home. If an argument or incident of abuse occurs, try and move to a safe area.

Identity risk areas in your home that pose a treat. Avoid rooms with only one exit, rooms where weapons are stored, or rooms where there may be additional safety hazards.

During an incident of abuse, avoid putting children in harm’s way.

If possible, keep a phone with you or close by. Keep important contact numbers in the event you have to leave suddenly or call for help.

If incidents of physical abuse occur, protect your head and make yourself as small a target as possible.

Be prepared, in the event you need to escape quickly. Back your car into the drive, have emergency money available, and plan a safe place to stay for 24 hours.

Use code words to signal to children, friends, or family that you need help. Clearly define what the code word means such as call the police, interrupt the abuse, or time to leave.

Leaving the relationship

Gather important paperwork and documents such as driver’s license or ID, marriage license, social security cards, banking and financial information.

Identify and coordinate a safe place to stay.

Set aside personal items including medications, important contact information, clothing, and valuables.

Connect with resources to help you prepare for leaving such as domestic violence programs, legal services, etc.

Change contact information to prevent the abuser from being able to reach you.

Examine and alter your routine so that your movements are harder to predict.

Safety Alert

These tips are only a starting place. Our Personalized Safety Plan Template requires you to enter information online and/or download. Before you begin, be sure that the computer you are using is in a safe location and is not being monitored by your partner.

If you’d like more support developing a plan, call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 800.799.7233 or a local domestic violence program.

Asking for Help

It can be scary to reach out for help, especially when you don’t know what to expect. Service providers and programs vary in practice and policy, but here’s what you can generally anticipate.

When you make the call

All programs have people who can listen, provide support, and guide you through your options.

Many programs offer crisis intervention services and can provide emotional support to survivors.

Most programs have trained advocates who can help you navigate the system in different ways.

Many programs offer emergency shelter services and can walk you through the process of seeking shelter and preparing to enter shelter.

Programs will help you identify and locate services including transitional housing, support groups, counseling, legal advocacy, and more.

When you enter a shelter

Family violence shelters are free. There are no fees associated with staying at a shelter.

Many shelters have shared common areas. Residents share kitchen spaces, living areas, and bathrooms. 

Families generally share a room or bedroom. Individuals who go into shelter often share a room with other shelter residents. 

While some shelters may offer some type of childcare service, parents in shelter are ultimately responsible for caring for their children.

All shelters must welcome and accept service animals. Many shelters cannot accommodate pets, but most will work with clients to help arrange for a safe place for their animals. 

Shelters have laundry services and supply basic linens including sheets, towels, and blankets.

Programs typically provide emergency supplies such as food, toiletries, and some clothing during the first few days of shelter. 

Shelters are usually confidential locations and request that the location be kept private. For this reason, visitors are generally not allowed. 

For safety, programs ask clients adhere to confidentiality and privacy of all shelter residents. This includes not discussing names, personal information, or situation with anyone.

Moving Forward

Taking the next steps forward can sometimes feel overwhelming and impossible. These resources will help make the transition easier.

Lease Termination

Domestic violence survivors, sexual assault or stalking have the right to terminate their residential lease early per the Texas Property Code. Survivors must provide a notice to vacate to landlords along with one of the required support documents as well as fully vacate the property

30-Day Notice to Vacate

If you are a survivor tenant who does not reside with the perpetrator, you must provide a 30-day written notice of termination to the landlord. You will be responsible for rent for the duration of the 30 days following the submission of notice.

30-Day Notice to Vacatearrow
Co-Habitation Tenant Notice to Vacate

If you are a survivor tenant who resides (co-habitats/co-occupies) with your perpetrator, you are not required to provide the 30-day notice to vacate. However, you are responsible for notifying the landlord of your intent to your lease, preferably in writing.

IMPORTANT: You may leave you residence at any point for safety but vacating alone will not release you from rental obligations or your lease.

Co-Habitation Tenant Notice to Vacatearrow

Temporary Ex Parte Protective Order
Final Protective Order
Temporary Injunction within Divorce Order
Magistrate’s Order of Emergency Protection
Sexual Assault Protective Order
Stalking Protective Order
Third-Party Professional Documentation*

*Documentation from a third-party professional may be obtained through a licensed medical or mental health care provider or an advocate at a family violence or rape crisis center who has examined, evaluated, or assisted you.

Third-Party Documentationarrow

Tenants wishing to exercise their lease termination right must vacate the residence to formally terminate their lease and be released from financial and civil liability

Utility Waivers

Survivors of family violence may be able to waive deposits to establish electric, telephone, and natural gas service. To do so, survivors must submit to the utility provider a certification letter for waiver of deposit signed by staff at a listed certifying agency. Not all utility providers accept these waivers.


To apply for a waiver of electric and telephone service deposit, survivors must:

  • Complete a certification letter for waiver of deposit or “waiver”
  • Submit the waiver with supporting cover letter to a certifying agency for signature
  • Submit the signed and completed waiver to the utility provider

Certifying agencies include Family Violence Centers, Treating Medical Facilities, Law Enforcement Departments, Texas District or County Attorney Offices, Office of the Attorney General, and Texas Equal Access to Justice Foundation Grantees.

Electric and Telephone Waiver | Englisharrow
Electric and Telephone Waiver | Spanisharrow

Austin Energy Waiver | English
Austin Energy Wavier | Spanish


To apply for a waiver of gas service deposit, survivors must:

  • Complete a certification letter for waiver of deposit or “waiver”
  • Submit the waiver to a certifying agency for signature
  • Submit the signed and completed waiver to the utility provider

Certifying agencies include family violence center staff, treating medical personnel, law enforcement agency personnel, or designee of the Attorney General in the Crime Victim Services Division of the office of the Attorney General.

NOTE: Texas Council on Family Violence is NOT a certifying agency for utility waivers

Gas Waiver | Englisharrow
Gas Waiver | Spanisharrow

Wireless Separation

Cell phones can be a lifeline to survivors for safety, resource, and connection to supportive family and loved ones. Being on a family plan with an abusive partner can create safety risks due to the ability to see real-time location and access phone records. In the 87th Texas Legislative Session, Representative Guerra successfully passed HB 1372, creating pathways for survivors to transfer, or port, their cell phone line—and those of their children—from a family plan of an abusive partner to their own plan.

If your abusive partner is the account holder of a family cell phone plan you (and your children, if you are a parent) are on, you can apply for a family violence protective order (PO) and ask the court, as one of the PO provisions, to give you the rights to your own cell phone number and your children’s cell phone numbers. This is called “wireless separation.”

For more information on the law and steps to safely apply for wireless separation, view the FAQ Document below:

HB1372: Supporting Lifelines to Safety | English
HB1372: Supporting Lifelines to Safety | Spanish

Supplemental PO Documents

Texas Council on Family Violence also created supplemental documents you can fill out and attach to your protective order application to request this wireless separation. You can find the protective order templates here: HB 1372 Documents