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Family Violence and COVID-19

Protection from Violence or Abuse

This article provides information on how to get help and stay safe from family violence during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Note: Some of this information no longer applies due to stay-at-home and shelter-in-place orders being lifted. However, this article may still be used as a resource if you are experiencing family violence.

Who can help if I am experiencing family violence during COVID-19?

For help finding a shelter or other services, you can find a domestic violence legal aid organization in your area through the Legal Help Directory.   

There are several Texas-wide free, confidential resources that remain open and available to assist victims of domestic violence and sexual assault, including: 

How do I stay safe from my abuser during COVID-19?

Use a Family Violence Safety Planning Checklist to help you plan to leave a dangerous situation.  

If you can find a safe way to contact an organization that helps domestic violence victims, they can help you make a plan to stay safe under your unique circumstances. 

Aid to Victims of Domestic Abuse and Texas Legal Services Center Crime Victims offer the following tips on safety planning during COVID-19 stay-at-home orders. 

  1. 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. 

  1. Have a safety plan. Know where your keys and important papers are and keep them where you can grab them quickly. 

  1. 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. 

  1. Have a secret code word with a friend or family member that will let them know to send help. 

  1. Prepare for a situation where an abuser might hide essential supplies and/or prohibit you from leaving the home to access essential supplies. 

  1. 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. 

  1. Keep your gas tank full and your car backed into its parking place in case you have to make a quick escape in your car. 

  1. 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. 

  1. In an emergency, call 911.  

Read Surviving Domestic Abuse During “Stay Home” Orders: Tips on Staying Safe written by Aid to Victims of Domestic Abuse for more information on surviving during stay-at-home orders. 

You can also watch Resources for Safety Planning: Information to Help Build an Abusive Relationship Safety Plan created by Lone Star Legal Aid. 

What if my abuser sexually assaulted me?

Read Information for Survivors of Sexual Assault During COVID-19 by Legal Aid for Survivors of Sexual Assault for answers to questions including: 

  • Where can I get legal help? 

  • How do I find resources like crisis centers, shelters, and exams? 

  • What is available to me during this time? 

  • How can I stay safe?

How do I stay safe during a shelter in place order? What if I am stuck at home with an abuser?

How do I find a shelter?

You can access the Family Violence Program from the Department of Health and Human Services to locate temporary shelter and supportive services.  

You can also call 2-1-1, or visit  2-1-1 Texas, enter your zip code and select Housing/Shelter. 

Or you can contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline at (800) 799-7233 or (800) 787-3224 (TTY), or text LOVEIS to 22522.


Are shelters still open during COVID-19?

Yes, shelters are open and providing residential and non-residential services. Some shelters are offering these services in a modified way during this time. 

It’s best to call the specific shelter to find out what services are available and how to access them. 


Can I still apply for a protective order to protect me from family violence during COVID-19?

Yes, protective order hearings are considered to be essential proceedings and courts are still accepting applications. You should contact the services above for legal assistance.

Does COVID-19 change my child custody order?

It does not. The Texas Supreme Court issued an order stating the existing trial court order controls in all instances for determining a person’s right to possession of and access to a child under a court-ordered possession schedule.  

You may be able to file a motion to modify your custody order if you no longer believe it is safe for you or your child to follow it. 

Read Coronavirus and Child Visitation for more information.

What can I do if my child’s other parent has supervised visits, but my supervised visitation center is closed due to COVID-19?

Call the Access and Visitation Hotline Monday through Friday from 1 5 p.m. at (866) 292-4636 for up-to-date information. 

Legal Aid of Northwest Texas Family Violence FAQ video

Legal Aid of Northwest Texas created a video addressing family violence issues that come up during the COVID-19 crisis, such as: 

  • What should I do if I want to leave an abusive situation right now?

  • What is a protective order?

  • Are there different types of protective orders?

  • Are courts open now for getting protective orders?

  • May I still file a protective order on my own during the pandemic if my court is closed to the public?

  • What if I have children with my abuser?

  • What about other types of cases besides protective orders? Are courts still hearing divorce and custody cases?

Resources for Safety Planning: Information to Help Build an Abusive Relationship Safety Plan - Lone Star Legal Aid video

Lone Star Legal Aid created a video on Resources for Safety Planning: Information to Help Build an Abuse Relationship Safety Plan you can watch for more help and information.

Related Guides

  • I need a protective order.

    Protective Orders

    How to ask the court for protection from someone who has been violent or threatened to be violent.
  • I need a Sexual Assault Protective Order.

    Sexual Assault

    A guide for getting a court order to protect you from someone who sexually assaulted you.
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