AUSTIN, Texas — Stay-home orders are tough for all of us but even more so where family violence is involved.
"More people staying in the house with friction in the family, with abuse going on, and more time behind closed doors is just going to exacerbate the tension and violence," said The SAFE Alliance Community Education Director Sandra Molinari.
The SAFE Alliance is an organization that works to provide resources for survivors and prevent child abuse, as well as domestic violence, human trafficking, dating violence and sexual harassment.
Molinari said at the beginning of self-isolation, their SAFEline saw an increase in calls for help.
"So usually we average 45 calls a day this time a year and that went up to about 65 when people began self-isolating," said Molinari. "It has come back down because it is difficult for people to call because they are being monitored."
Molinari said she expects calls to increase again as long as a stay-home order is in place. Because of social distancing, SAFE can only use 79 of their 105 beds at their family shelter, leaving them at full capacity. But Molinari said people can call, text or chat with them using their 24/7 hotline.
"Those advocates are ready to help them find a safety plan, process what's happening and how they can stay safe in the home or, if there is a way to leave, we can problem-solve with them so they can find a safer place," said Molinari.
She said if you do decide to go to their website and chat, there is an escape button at the bottom just in case an abuser is near.
The Texas Advocacy Project said they have seen a 30% increase in calls from domestic violence survivors seeking free legal help.
“We are talking to them about their rights and options available to get emergency protective orders and answering legal questions," said Texas Advocacy Project CEO Heather Bellino. “Everybody needs a safety plan before they find themselves ... before they end up in a situation where they need help."
Bellino said when thinking about a safety plan, reach out to friends and family for help if possible.
“If you have an opportunity to reach out to friends and family, have a safe word to use that would trigger them to know it is time for them to call police on your behalf," said Bellino
She added, “We want to help you and we know your safety is important and we are here for you.”
To contact The Texas Advocacy Project, call 1-800-374-HOPE.
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