Health, economic and natural crises can add to the pressures facing survivors of domestic violence. With the “Stay Home” orders for Fort Bend and Harris counties, people who are surviving violence in their relationships and families are experiencing even greater isolation and danger.
“Over the last several days, AVDA (Aid to Victims of Domestic Abuse) has had an uptick in calls from domestic abuse survivors,” states AVDA CEO Maisha Colter. “The main message that we want to convey to family violence victims is that you are not alone. One in four women experience abuse in their lifetime.”
“The COVID-19 pandemic has created an environment in which survivors who have not separated from their abusers are now at even greater risk; however, area domestic violence service providers are still providing services,” continued Colter. “AVDA’s free legal representation is still available in Austin, Grimes, Fort Bend, Harris, Waller and Washington counties.”
If you are still living with your abuser:
- Stay as safe as you can. When an argument breaks out, know the safest place in the house; stay away from spaces like the kitchen, bathroom and garage where objects that can be weaponized are kept.
- Prepare for a situation where an abuser might hide essential supplies and/or prohibit you from leaving the home to access essential supplies.
- Have a safety plan and know where your keys and important papers are. If it is safe to do so, call AVDA at 713-224-9911 (Monday-Friday, 8 a.m. – 5 p.m.) or visit online at avda.org for safety planning. If it is not safe to use your phone or computer, ask a friend or family member to do so and share the information with you in a phone conversation, if safe.
- For help 24/7, call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233 or text LOVEIS to 22522.
- 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 perpetrator that you plan to leave.
- In an emergency, call 911.
If you recently left your abuser:
- Remember the most dangerous time for a survivor of domestic violence is at the time of or right after leaving the perpetrator.
- In the current climate, it might be difficult to access the protective order process. AVDA is doing its best to help survivors obtain the protective orders they need. If you need a protective order, call AVDA at 713-224-9911 if in Harris County. If in Fort Bend County, call 281-207-2312. For Austin, Grimes, Waller and Washington counties, call 979-826-3290, ext. 219. AVDA’s victim advocates, paralegals and attorneys have replaced face-to-face meetings with phone calls and the Zoom conferencing application. The courts are still open, and in certain cases, AVDA’s attorneys are accompanying clients for hearings at the courthouse.
- AVDA also provides free counseling for victims of domestic abuse and their children.
- For free legal representation for divorce, child custody, child support and adoption in the case of parent fatality: Call 713-224-9911 in Harris County; 281-207-2312 in Fort Bend County; and 979-826-3290, ext. 219 in Austin, Grimes, Waller and Washington counties.
IMPORTANT INFORMATION FOR COURT-MANDATED PARTICIPATION IN BATTERING INTERVENTION AND PREVENTION PROGRAMS
AVDA is continuing to provide its Battering Intervention and Prevention Program in Galveston, Harris and Montgomery counties via virtual group meetings using the Zoom conferencing platform. For an evaluation, call 713-224-9911.
For more information, visit www.avda.org.