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Information for Survivors of Sexual Assault During COVID-19

This article about resources for survivors of sexual assault during COVID-19 was written by Legal Aid for Survivors of Sexual Assault (LASSA).

 

I was sexually assaulted. Do I need legal help? What kind of legal help do I need? Should I still call Legal Aid for Survivors of Sexual Assault?

Yes. When you call the statewide Legal Aid for Survivors of Sexual Assault (LASSA) hotline an attorney can help you understand your legal rights and options, so that you have the information you need to make an informed decision about what to do. 

To get advice on your specific situation, please call (844) 303-SAFE (7233) or contact LASSA online through this form. It is open Monday – Friday, 9 a.m. – 7 p.m.

 

 

 

Where can I get legal help if I am sexually assaulted during COVID-19?

In an emergency, call 911. 

The statewide Legal Aid for Survivors of Sexual Assault (LASSA) Network is available to assist survivors of sexual assault. LASSA provides free, confidential legal assistance to survivors.  All calls are answered by a trained and compassionate attorney. Callers may remain anonymous. To reach the statewide LASSA hotline, call (844) 303-SAFE (7233) or contact us online through this form. LASSA's hotline hours are: Monday – Friday, 9 a.m. – 7 p.m. 

LASSA is here for survivors. 

What can I expect when I call the Legal Aid for Survivors of Sexual Assault (LASSA) hotline?

A trained and compassionate attorney will answer your call Monday – Friday, 9 a.m. – 7 p.m. 

If you get voicemail and feel safe receiving a return phone call, please leave your name, phone number, and the best time of day to reach you. Alternatively, you can submit a call back request here.  

LASSA hotline services are free and confidential. Callers may remain anonymous. 

LASSA can assess your specific situation and provide you with legal advice and referrals to local legal assistance through the Legal Aid for Survivors of Sexual Assault Network

The network can also help you make a safety plan, put you in touch with a rape crisis center or a shelter, and help you locate resources such as food assistance or other financial assistance. 

 

How can lawyers at the statewide Legal Aid for Survivors of Sexual Assault (LASSA) hotline help me?

Lawyers in the LASSA Network assist with legal needs survivors may have as a result of sexual assault, such as: 

  • Privacy and Safety (including protective orders)

  • Housing

  • Family Law

  • Immigration

  • Medical/Mental Health Services and Benefits

  • Sexual Violence in the Workplace or Educational Institution

  • Crime Victim Rights

  • Crime Victims’ Compensation 

To get advice on your specific situation, please call (844) 303-SAFE (7233) or contact us online through this form. LASSA is open Monday – Friday, 9 a.m. – 7 p.m.

 

What if I need to talk to someone outside of regular business hours?

The Legal Aid for Survivors of Sexual Assault (LASSA) hotline is available Monday – Friday, 9 a.m. – 7 p.m. 

If you need to speak with someone outside of those hours, contact your local Rape Crisis Center. You can find your local rape crisis center here, or you can chat with or call the National Sexual Assault Hotline, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at (800) 656-HOPE (4673).

Important note: Before using online services, please make sure you are in a safe place and that you are using a secure device and internet connection. Please note that no Internet transmission is 100% secure. Read Safe Web Browsing by RAINN (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network)

In an emergency, call 911.

 

 

 

How do I find my local rape crisis center?

To locate a rape crisis center, visit this crisis center locator, provided by Texas Association Against Sexual Assault (TAASA).   

You can also call the National Sexual Assault Hotline at (800) 656-HOPE (4673), 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, or chat with the National Sexual Assault Hotline here

Important note: Before using online services, please make sure you are in a safe place and that you are using a secure device and Internet connection. Please note that no Internet transmission is 100% secure. For more information on safe web browsing, read this article by RAINN (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network).

 

 

 

What can a rape crisis center help with?

A rape crisis center may provide services like a local 24-hour hotline, counseling, crisis intervention, advocacy, accompaniment and during a medical forensic exam, legal assistance, and more. Some rape crisis centers are offering counseling services via telephone or video conferencing during COVID-19. Contact your local rape crisis center to learn how to access services during COVID-19. 

 

If I am sexually assaulted during COVID-19 can I still get a sexual assault forensic exam?

Yes. Medical care following a sexual assault is considered a medical emergency.  If you need a sexual assault forensic exam, you can go to an emergency room and ask for a forensic medical exam. 

Your local Rape Crisis Center can also help you find the nearest hospital or facility where you can get a sexual assault forensic exam.   

To locate a rape crisis center, visit this crisis center locator, provided by Texas Association Against Sexual Assault (TAASA).   

You can also call the National Sexual Assault Hotline at (800) 656-HOPE (4673), 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, or chat with the National Sexual Assault Hotline here

Important note: Before using online services, please make sure you are in a safe place and that you are using a secure device and Internet connection. Please note that no Internet transmission is 100% secure. For more information on safe web browsing, read this article by RAINN (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network).

 

Can an advocate from a rape crisis center be with me during a forensic medical exam during COVID-19?

Yes. Hospitals must allow essential visitors access to fulfill their official duties, which includes advocates from rape crisis centers providing hospital accompaniment for survivors. 

Your local rape crisis center can also help you find the nearest hospital or facility where you can get a sexual assault forensic exam.   

To locate a rape crisis center, visit this crisis center locator, provided by Texas Association Against Sexual Assault (TAASA).   

You can also call the National Sexual Assault Hotline at (800) 656-HOPE (4673), 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, or chat with the National Sexual Assault Hotline here

Important note: Before using online services, please make sure you are in a safe place and that you are using a secure device and Internet connection. Please note that no Internet transmission is 100% secure. For more information on safe web browsing, read this article by RAINN (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network).

 

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

The statewide Legal Aid for Survivors of Sexual Assault (LASSA) Network is available to assist survivors of sexual assault with safety planning. LASSA can also help survivors file a protective order application.  LASSA provides free, confidential legal assistance to survivors.  All calls are answered by a trained and compassionate attorney. Callers may remain anonymous. To reach the statewide LASSA hotline, call (844) 303-SAFE (7233) or contact them online through this form. LASSA's hotline hours are: Monday – Friday, 9 a.m. – 7 p.m. 

If you’re in an emergency situation and need immediate help, call 911.

The following are safety planning resources:

 

How do I find a shelter?

Click here to access the Family Violence Program 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.

You can also 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 in Texas are open and are providing residential and non-residential services. Some shelters are providing these services in a modified way with during this time. 

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

 

How will COVID-19 impact Title IX investigations? What are my rights as a student survivor?

From Victim Rights Law Center:

It is important to know that campus closures do not affect your rights. Title IX and Student Conduct Offices should continue to operate and receive reports. You have the right and option to report sexual assault and other sexual misconduct to your institution. The institution’s obligation to respond to sexual assault does not change.

To read more about rights of student survivors please visit this page at  Victim Rights Law Center

 

Where can I find health care resources and financial help?

Links to TexasLawHelp's resources on accessing health care, financial health, and public benefits during COVID-19 are below.

 

 

What do I do if my landlord asks for sexual favors in exchange for or in addition to my rent?

Under both Texas and federal law, if a landlord asks for sexual favors in exchange for or in addition to rent, that is sexual harassment in violation of fair housing laws (the federal Fair Housing Act and the state Texas Fair Housing Act)

If your landlord suggests this type of exchange you can file a complaint with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (File a Complaintor with the Texas Workforce Commission Civil Rights Division (How to Submit a Housing Complaint).

If you live in Austin, Corpus Christi, Dallas, Fort Worth, or Garland you will need to file with the local Fair Housing Office in those cities rather than the Texas Workforce Commission Civil Rights Division.

You can contact the statewide Legal Aid for Survivors of Sexual Assault (LASSA) Network for help. LASSA provides free, confidential legal assistance to survivors. All calls are answered by a trained and compassionate attorney. Callers may remain anonymous. To reach the statewide LASSA hotline, call (844) 303-SAFE (7233) or contact them online through this form. LASSA's hotline hours are: Monday – Friday, 9 a.m. – 7 p.m. 

In an emergency, call 911.