Help for Survivors
If you are in immediate danger, contact 911.
Advocates at these national resources are available to help 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Your call will be completely anonymous and confidential.
National Domestic Violence Hotline
1.800.799.7233 | TTY 1.800.787.3224
National Teen Dating Abuse Helpline
Local Domestic Violence program offer 24/7 hotlines that can support you in a crisis and connect you to shelter, counseling, and other local resources you might need.
Please click below to access TCFV’s PDF service dirctory to find a program in your area.
We are available during business hours, Monday – Friday from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m at 1.800.525.1978.
*Please note during COVID-19 safe at home ordinances, all calls will go to a voicemail and be answered within two business days.
Resources & Information for Survivors
It can be scary to reach out for help, especially when you don’t know what to expect. All service providers and programs vary in practice and policy, but here’s what you can generally expect from all of them:
When you call
- A caring, listening ear. All programs have people who can listen, provide support and help you navigate options in your situation.
- Many programs offer crisis intervention services and can provide emotional support to survivors.
- Helpful advocacy services. 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.
- Help you identify and locate services their program may offer, including transitional housing, support groups and counseling, legal advocacy and more.
When you go to 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, common living areas and bathrooms.
- Families generally share a room or bedroom together.
- 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 responsible for caring for their children.
- All shelters must welcome and accept service animals.
- Many shelters cannot accommodate pets, but many shelters will work with clients to help arrange for a safe place for their pets.
- Shelters have laundry services and supply basic linens like sheets, towels and blankets.
- Programs usually provide emergency supplies such as food, toiletries and some clothing for 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 everyone’s safety, programs ask clients adhere to confidentiality and privacy of all shelter residents. This includes not discussing their names, personal information or situation with anyone.
Safety planning can be a helpful tool to increase your safety and asses the danger of your situation. You can safety plan while you’re in an abusive relationship, when you’re planning on leaving and after you’ve left. There is no specific way to safety plan, but there are a few tips that we recommend.
During the relationship
For anyone in an abusive relationship, having a safety plan in place can help you prepare for an emergency and can increase your day to day safety. Here are some tips for safety planning while in an abusive relationship:
- Think of your home and identify the safest areas to be in. If an argument or incident of abuse occurs, try and move to a safe area.
- Avoid areas of your home that may pose an additional risk. Avoid rooms with only one exit, rooms where weapons are stored or rooms where there may be additional risks, like falling on hard surfaces in the bathroom.
- During an incident of abuse, avoid moving to where your children are to keep the abuse away from them.
- If possible, keep a phone with you or close by. Keep important contact numbers you may need 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.
- In the event you need to escape quickly, consider these tips: Back your car into the drive to make leaving quicker, have emergency money available somewhere safe and plan somewhere safe you can stay for 24 hours to regroup (a fire station, a 24 hour grocery store, a friend or family member’s home, etc.).
- Use code words if you need to signal to friends or family that you need help. Clearly define what the code word means. It could mean to call the police or to call you to interrupt the abuse.
- If possible, use code words with children or other people in the home that signal it’s time to leave. Have a plan in place as to what should happen when you use this code word (like go to a neighbor’s home or call Grandma).
Leaving the relationship
Leaving an abusive relationship is an extremely dangerous time and violence can often escalate.
- When planning to leave, do not notify the abuser that you intend to leave or want to leave. The abuser may escalate violence to prevent you from leaving.
- Gather important paperwork and documents to take with you, such as driver’s license or ID, marriage license, social security cards, banking and financial information.
- Identify and set up a safe place to go (a friend or family member’s home, a domestic violence shelter, etc.).
- Set aside personal items such as medications, important contact information, clothes for you and your children, and valuables.
- Reach out to resources that may help you prepare for leaving, like domestic violence programs, legal resources, etc.
- Change contact information to prevent the abuser from being able to contact you.
- Examine your routine and make changes to prevent someone from being able to predict where you’re going to be at certain times.
These tips are a starting place when you think of safety planning. If it is safe for you to download, use this document to make a personalized safety plan. If you’d like more support with developing a safety plan, call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233 to speak with an advocate or call a local domestic violence program.
Survivors of family violence may be able to waive deposits to establish electric, telephone and natural gas services. To do so, survivors must submit a Certification Letter signed by staff at a listed certifying agency to an electric, telephone or gas provider that accepts these waivers.
Utility Deposit Waivers
This letter outlines the background, certification requirements and relevant regulations for those agencies that may sign Certification Letters for Utility Deposit Waivers. Certifying agencies are: 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.
- Waiver of Electric and Telephone Service Deposit | Letter for Family Violence (English)
- Waiver of Electric and Telephone Service Deposit | Letter for Family Violence (Spanish)
- Austin Energy Wavier (English)
- Austin Energy Wavier (Spanish)
Gas Service Deposit Waivers
A separate Waiver of Gas Service Deposit must be signed by staff at a listed certifying agency. Certifying agencies for this waiver are: 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.
Legal issues that arise during and after an abusive relationship can be stressful and intimidating. There are a variety of legal resources that may be able to provide support and help in these situations.
Many domestic violence programs have legal advocates on staff. These advocates generally are not lawyers and cannot provide legal advice, but can help you navigate the system in other ways.
Legal advocates may be able to work with you to identify legal options and plan for more in-depth legal services. They may also be able to accompany you to court dates – often called court accompaniment. Here are some additional things to expect when speaking with a legal advocate:
- Services are free of charge.
- Help filling out paperwork, understanding legal processes, and prioritizing legal needs..
- Help in preparing for hearings and understanding what will happen before, during and after the hearing.
- Referrals to more comprehensive legal services.
[Some of this information was adapted from the Washington State Coalition Against Domestic Violence]
If you would like to speak to a legal advocate, use TCFV’s online service directory to find one in your community. Programs that offer legal advocacy service may ask that you complete an intake and register as a client to receive services. The TCFV Online Service Directory is currently under construction, please call TCFV to speak with a staff member about locating a legal advocate.
More comprehensive legal resources are available and can provide information and support. Texas has three legal aid providers that may be able to provide free to low cost legal services. The providers are divided into geographic regions.
- Legal Aid of Northwest Texas | Serving North and West Texas
- Texas Rio Grande Legal Aid | Serving Southwest Texas
- Lone Star Legal Aid | Serving West Texas
The Texas Advocacy Project provides a number a legal resources and information statewide. Their services include a legal hotline, protective order packets, assisted Pro Se program, teen justice initiative and more.
Texas Law Help is an online resource that can connect you to legal resources by zip code.
Protective orders are one legal resource that you can obtain if you are experiencing family violence. Protective orders are free and order someone who you’ve had a close relationship with not to hurt you. A protective order is a civil court order issued to prevent continuing acts of family violence.
There are three types of Protective Orders in Texas:
- Temporary Ex Parte Protective Order
- Final Protective Order
- Magistrates Order of Emergency Protection
A protective order prohibits the respondent from doing the following:
- Committing family violence.
- Communicating in a threatening or harassing manner with a family or household member.
- Going near your partner’s residence and place of employment.
- Going near childcare and school facilities.
- Possessing a firearm.
Violation of these provisions is subject to immediate arrest.
A protective order may also do the following:
- Award child custody and visitation.
- Award exclusive use of the residence.
- Require the payment of support for the petitioner or parties’ children.
- Award the use and possession of property.
- Order the respondent to attend a Batterers Intervention and Prevention Program.
Survivors of family violence, sexual assault or stalking may have the right to terminate their residential leases early per Sections 92.016 and 92.0161 of the Texas Property Code. TCFV developed an Advocate Guide to Lease Termination which includes comprehensive information-legislative background, legal definitions, detailed practice tips and resources- for advocates to utilize when assisting survivors in terminating their residential leases. The information below briefly outlines the main steps and accompanying forms for survivor lease termination.
Below are the three main steps and forms to facilitate lease termination.
Survivor tenants seeking to terminate their leases must provide ONE type of documentation to their landlord. The law lists a variety of documentation:
- Temporary Ex-Parte Protective Order (TEXFAM Chap. 83) or a Final Protective Order (TEXFAM Chap.85)
- Temporary injunction within temporary divorce suit (TEXFAM Chap. 6)
- Magistrate’s Order of Emergency Protection (CCP Art. 17.292)
- Protective Orders for sexual assault or stalking (CCP Chap.7A)
- Documentation from a third-party professional (licensed medical or mental health care provider or an advocate at a family violence or rape crisis center) who has examined, evaluated or assisted the victim.
A survivor tenant who does not reside with the perpetrator must provide a 30 day written notice of termination to the landlord. They will be responsible for rent for the duration of the 30 days. The form below may be used for the purpose of this 30 day written notice.
A survivor tenant who resides with the perpetrator is NOT required to provide the 30-day notice. They are responsible for notifying the landlord of their intent to terminate their lease, preferably in writing. The form below may be used for the purpose of this notice.
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.