HOUSTON (FOX 26) - When a victim of domestic violence tries to leave his or her abuser is often when the victim is in the greatest danger. However, a local survivor of domestic violence is speaking out in hopes of encouraging other victims to get help.
“There’s help out there. There’s a lot of help. There’s no reason for anybody to die,” she told FOX 26 News. The survivor did not want to reveal her identity, but she does want to make her voice heard.
For nearly a decade, her ex-husband abused her emotionally and verbally. About a year before she left him, the abuse turned physical.
“My daughter said to me when she came home and I was beaten to pieces. I couldn’t even move. I sat on that couch for three hours and she came in and she sat down next to me and she said, ‘If he kills you? What happens to me and my sister?’” she recalled.
She tried to leave on two occasions but she returned to her abuser when she realized she could not afford to divorce him. She says her ex-husband threatened he would report her for kidnapping if she left with their two children again. She says she would research information on how to leave at a public library because her abuser would track her online activity at home.
One day, she woke up in a hospital emergency room. A police officer was called in and told her about Aid to Victim of Domestic Abuse (AVDA). She learned AVDA provided free or low cost legal services to victims of abuse. AVDA successfully represented her in her divorce.
“They literally saved our lives. AVDA saved my children,” she added.
She wants to let victims know there’s other types of help, too such as working with an advocate to develop a personalized safety plan to leave an abuser.
“Have a second set [of keys] saved. Have a backup phone which is just a spare phone,” said Maria Casco, Director of Advocacy Services with AVDA. Those are some examples of steps that may go into safety planning.
AVDA also has sites across Harris County and two in Fort Bend County where victims can meet with advocates in-person to access their services.
- Westside Family Violence Unit/Houston Police Department, 3203 S. Dairy Ashford. Every Tuesday, 8 a.m. – 4 p.m. (832) 394-5611.
- North Family Violence Unit/Houston Police Department, 9455 W. Montgomery. Alternating Wednesdays, 8 a.m. – 4 p.m. (832) 394-3600.
- Southeast Family Violence Unit/Houston Police Department, 8300 Mykawa Rd. Every Thursday, 8 a.m. – 4 p.m. (832) 394-1797.
- The United Way Fort Bend Center, 12300 Parc rest Drive, Suite 140, Stafford, Texas 77477
- Fort Bend County Women’s Center, 1002 Wilson Drive, Rosenberg, Texas 77471
The Houston Area Women’s Center (HAWC) can also help with safety planning.
“Having a trained advocate on the other line could provide [the victims] with an opportunity to possibly think of something that maybe didn’t cross their mind,” said Aly Jacobs, Manager of Counseling with HAWC, referring to making an escape plan.
HAWC has 24-hour hotlines for victims of domestic violence 713-528-2121 and sexual assault 713-528-7273 (RAPE). Last year, the organization received a 38,000 calls to both lines.
HAWC also has a 120-bed shelter for women and children.
“It really is a holistic campus. We have services that are located at the shelter to provide the survivor with physical safety so she is able to get to a spot where she can establish emotional safety,” Jacobs explained.
She also says the shelter has on-site counseling services, case managers, childcare, and career development services.