Step 1: Ask for help.
If it is not safe to use your phone or computer to look for resources, ask a friend or family member to do it for you so they can share it with you in a phone conversation at a safe time.
You can seek help. To find a shelter or other services, you can use TexasLawHelp's Domestic Violence. Free Legal Help for Victims and Survivors page.
Several Texas-wide free, confidential resources remain open and available to assist victims of domestic violence and sexual assault, such as:
- Texas Advocacy Project, (800) 374-HOPE (4673)
- Texas Legal Services Center Crime Victims, (844) 303-SAFE (7233) (or contact them online through this form). They can file protective order applications and assist with safety planning for victims who are not able to leave a dangerous living situation.
- The Legal Aid for Survivors of Sexual Assault network continues to provide legal assistance to sexual assault survivors.
The National Domestic Violence Hotline is one starting point for people experiencing family violence during COVID-19.
Tell a friend or family member that you are being abused. They may be able to check on you or provide other help. Have a secret code word with a friend or family member that will let them know to send help. Household members should know how to call 911. If you have a trusted neighbor, a household member may be able to get help if the abuser becomes violent.
In an emergency, call 911.
Step 2: Study your space.
Know the safest place in the home. Avoid places like the kitchen, bathroom, and garage where hard surfaces and objects that can be used as weapons are.
If your abuser may become violent, try to steer the argument to a room with an exit such as the front or back door.
Avoid any rooms with firearms.
Get outdoors, if you can. Staying home together provides more opportunity for conflict and for those disagreements to escalate. Take a walk, if you can, to allow some time for things to de-escalate.
If you have children, bring them outside with you, if you can.
Step 3: Gather essentials.
Know where your keys, wallet, purse, and important papers are and keep them where you can grab them quickly.
Important documents include: social security cards for you and your children, birth certificates for you and your children, your driver’s license/identification card, passports for you and your children, work permits, or green card.
Other items you may want to take with you if you can do so safely: vehicle title, diplomas, professional licenses, photos, personal belongings.
If you cannot take the originals of the documents without your abuser becoming suspicious, make copies and leave them with a friend or family member.
Ask yourself: What are your essential supplies?
Prepare for a situation where an abuser might hide essential supplies and/or prohibit you from leaving the home to access essential supplies.
If you or your children have prescription drugs, keep an extra monthly dosage with a family or friend.
Pay attention to how much is left of the food and products you use regularly.
Place some cash in a safe place or give it to someone you trust.
Dial 2-1-1 (option 6) for information on COVID-19 and local community resources on health care, utilities, food, housing, and more.
Step 4: Prepare your car and a have place to go.
Keep your gas tank full with your car backed into your parking place in case you have to make a quick escape in your car. If your vehicle has GPS technology, disable it.
Keep spare keys in a safe place. Your abuser may hide or hold your keys.
If you can make plans to leave your abuser safely for a shelter or to stay with a friend or family member, do so. Remember: Never tell the person hurting you that you plan to leave.
TexasLawHelp's Domestic Violence: Free Legal Help for Victims and Survivors is another way you can find a shelter.
Step 5: You left. What is next?
After leaving an abusive relationship, there are more things you can do to be as safe as you can.
- Change your passwords to your email, social media, bank accounts, and any other account that your abuser knows or may be able to guess.
- If you think your abuser may still hurt you or your children, apply for a protective order and file for divorce (if applicable) and custody. To find help with your legal matters, start here: Domestic Violence: Free Legal Help for Victims and Survivors.
- Report any threats or violence to the police. Police reports help you build a record, which you may need in court.
- Delete anyone on social media who might give your abuser information and change your account setting to private.
- Tell any relevant companies or agencies (for example, if you get SNAP benefits or social security benefits) that you have moved. Give them a forwarding address. If your abuser might be able to get your address from the agencies, ask if you can provide a known relatives' address instead.
This article tells you steps you can take to stay safe if you are a victim and/or survivor of domestic violence. This article was written by Texas ...
This article was written by Aid to Victims of Domestic Abuse. It was last updated on March 16, 2020.
Resources for Safety Planning: Information to Help Build an Abusive Relationship Safety Plan - Lone Star Legal Aid videoThis video, "Resources for Safety Planning: Information to Help Build an Abusive Relationship Safety Plan," was created by Lone Star Legal Aid in t...
This article explaining variations on domestic violence was written by Montgomery County Women's Center.