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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

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

RISK AREAS
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.

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

EMERGENCY CONTACTS
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.

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

PREPARATION
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.

CODE WORDS
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

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

SAFE HOUSE
Identify and coordinate a safe place to stay.

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

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

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

ROUTINE
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

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

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

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

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

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

When you enter a shelter

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

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

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

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

PETCARE
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. 

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

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

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

CONFIDENTIALITY
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

NOTICE TO VACATE
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.

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Co-Habitation 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.

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SUPPORT DOCUMENTATION

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.

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VACATE

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.

ELECTRIC AND TELEPHONE SERVICE DEPOSIT WAIVER

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

GAS SERVICE DEPOSIT WAIVER

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

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