Victim Safety

Information You Need to Stay Safe

Protect yourself and your children by having a Safety Plan.

IF YOU ARE IN IMMEDIATE DANGER, CALL 911

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Call AVDA and Get Help Now 713-224-9911 or 24 Hour National DV Hotline 1-800-799-SAFE (7233)

Protect Yourself

Always have a plan to keep yourself safe. Overcoming domestic violence is about control. Victims are often kept financially dependent on the abuser and isolated from family and friends. Leaving a domestic violence situation safely takes planning and preparation. It is important to involve your children and rehearse safety procedures with them. Alert school officials and trusted family and friends. Think about what documents, financial resources, and personal items you will need. Where will you stay?

Plan ahead for your safety

AVDA strongly urges you to explore Protective Orders and other legal ways of insuring your physical safety, financial well-being, and the protection of your children. For information about filing charges and the criminal justice system; about divorce and child custody/child support;  assistance with safety planning; and referrals for shelter, counseling, and other services, contact an AVDA victim advocate by calling 713-224-9911.

Know the importance of technology safety

Computer use can be monitored and is impossible to completely clear. If you are afraid your internet and/or computer usage might be monitored, please use a safer computer, call AVDA at 713-224-9911 or call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1−800−799−SAFE (7233) or TTY 1−800−787−3224

Safe practices for using technology

We understand that the technology of cell phones and computers is constantly changing. Technology can provide you with a lot of information about family violence. You need to know that technology can also be used to endanger you.

  • Did you know that you can be monitored by someone’s computer without your knowing?
  • Did you know that the “history” cannot be completely erased from a computer?
  • Did you know that cell phone use can be monitored?
  • Did you know that a global positioning system (GPS) can be placed on your car, in your purse or in your cell phone?
  • Did you know that some court systems are placing court records online and that they may contain personal information?
  • Did you know that e-mail is like a postcard and can be intercepted?

Technology is a powerful tool for helping you stay safe, but you need to know how it can also be used by an abusive person. If you have a cell phone, ask your company how to ensure you are not being monitored. Use a computer that the person you are afraid of does not have any access to.

Safe Practices in Your Work Place

If you are employed and your abuser knows where you work:

  • Park your car in a busy public place. Avoid underground car parks, or if you have to use them, get someone to walk you to your car.
  • If you see your partner or ex, get into a public or busy place as soon as possible.
  • If you have separated from your partner, ask your boss if you can have calls and visitors screened through reception. If you work in a public space, such as a shopping center, talk to the security staff and show them your ex’s photo.
  • If you have separated from your partner, try to change your routines regularly. Where possible, catch different trains or buses, leave home or work at different hours, ask your boss for all alternative work schedules to avoid a routine.
  • Tell your boss or security staff of any protection orders that prevent the abuser from coming near your work. Keep a copy of your order at work or in your bag.
  • Plan an emergency exit strategy if the abuser invades your work place.

Safety Planning during Legal Proceedings

If you already have a Protective Order (PO) in place:

  • Read your order and know what it says.
  • Know what kind of protective order you have and when it expires.
  • Have multiple copies of your order—one with you at all times, one in your car, one at your office, one at your front door, one at the back door, one at your child(ren)’s school(s) if they are included in the order. Enlist the help of other people in your life:  provide a copy to your employer; provide a copy to your school; and talk to your neighbors, family, and friends, and advise them of the order.
  • Call 911 if your abuser violates the order. (Don’t warn him/her that you are going to call by saying “I’m going to call the police!” JUST DO IT!!) Tell the 911 operator that you have a protective order and that the abuser is violating the order.
  • If you fail to call, you will likely be unable to prove the violations later, and the abuser faces no consequences.
  • When you do call, law enforcement will arrest the abuser for violation of a court order.
  • It becomes a felony offense if the abuser violates the order three times (and it is reported), punishable by time in prison.
  • Cooperate with the police and district attorney. Ask that they press charges against your abuser.  Be proactive about reaching out to them.
  • Stop communicating with your abuser. No texts, no phone calls, no emails, no visits, no Facebooking with him/her, no meetings to “talk about your relationship.”  Block the abuser’s number.  “Unfriend” him/her.  De-activate your own Facebook account.  Change your own phone number.  Move to a safe place if you have to in order to be safe.The exception: if you already have a child support and/or custody order that requires that you communicate with your abuser…unless your PO is a “No Contact” PO.
  • If you already have a child support and/or custody order in place, carry a complete copy with you and know when you have a right to have your child(ren) and when your abuser has a right to have the child(ren).

If you are seeking a Protective Order (PO):

  • Stop communicating with your abuser. No texts, no phone calls, no emails, no visits, no Facebooking with him/her, no meetings to “talk about your relationship.” Block the abuser’s number. “Unfriend” him/her. De-activate your own Facebook account. Change your own phone number. Move to a safe place if you have to in order to be safe. Remember that you are going to try to convince the judge that you are AFRAID of your abuser. The exception to this: if you already have a child support and/or custody order that requires that you communicate with your abuser.
  • Continue to report all incidents of violence to the police. Call 911 if your abuser harms or threatens you or your children. (Don’t warn him/her that you are going to call by saying “I’m going to call the police!” JUST DO IT!!)  Document what happens and when it happens. If you fail to call, you will likely be unable to prove the violations later, and the abuser faces no consequences. You are helping to establish your case by documenting each occurrence.
  • Cooperate with the police and district attorney. Ask that they press charges against your abuser. Be proactive about reaching out to them.
  • Go to a clinic/hospital/doctor to document the injuries.
  • Photograph any injuries.Take a series of photos, at least one of which should include your face and body (a “selfie”), as well as photos of the actual injuries/bruising.
  • The list above is especially true if your request for protective order is based on violence toward your child(ren).
  • If the violence is against your child(ren), cooperate with CPS.
  • If you already have a child support and/or custody order in place, carry a complete copy with you and know when you have a right to have your child(ren) and when your abuser has a right to have the child(ren).
  • Enlist the help of other people in your life: talk to your employer, your school (teachers and administrators), your neighbors, and your family and friends.  Let them know about your situation.

If you are seeking a divorce from your spouse:

Stop communicating with your abuser. No texts, no phone calls, no emails, no visits, no Facebooking with him/her, no meetings to “talk about your relationship.”  Block the abuser’s number.  “Unfriend” him/her.  De-activate your own Facebook account.  Change your own phone number.  Move to a safe place if you have to in order to be safe. The exception to this: if you already have a child support and/or custody order that requires that you communicate with your abuser.

If you already have a child support and/or custody order in place:

  • Read the order and know what it says and know when you have a right to have your child(ren) and when your abuser has a right to have the child(ren). Follow the order unless your attorney tells you otherwise.
  • Have another person with you—a friend, family member, pastor, neighbor—when the child(ren) are to be exchanged. This person can serve as a deterrent to violence and as a witness if needed.
  • Carry a complete copy of the order with you.
  • Failure to comply with your order could land you in jail.
  • Repeated failure to comply with your order could provide your abuser the opportunity to request the order be changed to his/her favor.

If you are married and no court order exists that specifically identifies times when each parent can have access to the child(ren):

EITHER of you has a right to have the child(ren), and it will be presumed by the court to be by agreement. This means YOU DO NOT HAVE TO LET YOUR ABUSER HAVE ACCESS TO YOUR CHILD(REN) IF YOU DO NOT HAVE AN ORDER SIGNED BY A JUDGE.  This also means that your abuser does not have to return the child(ren) to you if you do not have an order signed by a judge.

If your abuser does manage to get possession of your child(ren) and you do not have an order in place:

  • You can choose to attempt to recover your child(ren) from your abuser, but, if you do, DO NOT go alone.
  • Recognize that your abuser may use your child(ren) to continue to control you by asking you for a meeting to “discuss your relationship,” or insisting that you return, or requiring you to do things you may not otherwise want to do. Any continuing contact is another opportunity for your abuser to be violent toward you.
  • You can contact law enforcement and ask for assistance. Again, they may or may not provide the assistance you want.
  • You can request a “welfare check” on your child(ren) at the address you believe the abuser is. Law enforcement will visit the address to check on the welfare of the child(ren) but will NOT attempt to take possession of the child(ren).
  • You may attempt to collect your child(ren) from school or daycare. Again, schools and daycares may or may not be cooperative in the absence of a court order.
  • Do not create a scene if you attempt to collect your child(ren). Law enforcement may be called against you for disturbing the peace or other.

If you are seeking a Suit Affecting the Parent-Child Relationship (custody) case or a Modification of an existing order:

Stop communicating with your abuser. No texts, no phone calls, no emails, no visits, no Facebooking with him/her, no meetings to “talk about your relationship.” Block the abuser’s number. “Unfriend” him/her. De-activate your own Facebook account but do not erase any existing Change your own phone number. Move to a safe place if you have to in order to be safe. The exception to this: if you already have a child support and/or custody order that requires that you communicate with your abuser.

If you already have a child support and/or custody order in place:

  • Read the order and know what it says and know when you have a right to have your child(ren) and when your abuser has a right to have the child(ren). Follow the order unless your attorney tells you otherwise.
  • Have another person with you—a friend, family member, pastor, neighbor—when the child(ren) are to be exchanged. This person can serve as a deterrent to violence and as a witness if needed.
  • Carry a complete copy of the signed order with you.
  • Failure to comply with your order could land you in jail.
  • Repeated failure to comply with your order could provide your abuser the opportunity to request the order be changed to his/her favor.

If you DO NOT already have a court order in place:

  • Depending on your particular circumstances, the police may or may not get involved if you allow your abuser to have access to his/her child(ren).
  • Police/law enforcement are not attorneys or judges. If you do not have a custody order, they may be unwilling to intervene.
  • This means YOU DO NOT HAVE TO LET YOUR ABUSER HAVE ACCESS TO YOUR CHILD(REN) IF YOU DO NOT HAVE AN ORDER SIGNED BY A JUDGE.

If your abuser does manage to get possession of your child(ren), and you do not have an order in place:

  • IF YOU ARE MARRIED TO YOUR ABUSER, EITHER of you has a right to have the child(ren), and it will be presumed by the court to be by agreement. This means YOU DO NOT HAVE TO LET YOUR ABUSER HAVE ACCESS TO YOUR CHILD(REN) IF YOU DO NOT HAVE AN ORDER SIGNED BY A JUDGE.  This also means that your abuser does not have to return the child(ren) to you if you do not have an order signed by a judge.
  • You can choose to attempt to recover your child(ren) from your abuser, but, if you do, DO NOT go alone.
  • You can contact law enforcement and ask for assistance. Again, they may or may not provide the assistance you want.
  • You can request a Welfare Check on your child(ren) at the address you believe the abuser is. Law enforcement will visit the address to check on the welfare of the child(ren) but will NOT attempt to take possession of the child(ren).
  • You can attempt to collect your child(ren) from school or daycare. Again, schools and daycares may or may not be cooperative in the absence of a court order.
  • Do not create a scene if you attempt to collect your child(ren). Law enforcement may be called against you for disturbing the peace or other.
1 in 4 women experience domestic violence in their lifetime.

“I can’t thank you enough for helping me to get my life back.”

“My attorney was very compassionate, assisting me with everything I needed.
She made me feel like I wasn’t alone.”

Safety alert: Computer use can be monitored and is impossible to completely clear. If you are afraid that your internet or computer usage might be monitored, use a safer computer, call your local hotline, or call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) or TTY 1-800-787-3224.

AVDA
1001 Texas Ave., Suite 600 Houston, TX 77002
P: 713-224-9911
F: 713-715-6935 | 713-715-6945

AVDA

1001 Texas Ave., Suite 600 Houston, TX 77002 P: 713-224-9911 F: 713-715-6935 | 713-715-6945

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