Imagine for a moment that you had to leave your home overnight and completely start over.

Imagine now that you can only take what you can fit in your car. Imagine you don’t have a car. Can someone drive you? Imagine having to pack your children’s clothing into a single bag that is already spilling over. Do they have their backpacks for school? Can they even go back to school safely? And what about finances? How much money do you have on hand right now? Is it enough for a hotel room? How many nights? One? Two?

Now imagine you do not have access to your checking account.

Do you have a phone? Now imagine it’s been thrown against the wall and shattered. Do you have family or friends that can help you? Now imagine you have been isolated from them for months. Above all, consider this essential question— where do you go?

I want to leave but I don’t know what I’ll do.

This plea is sadly echoed throughout countless families who are undergoing the incredible burden of leaving an abusive situation.

Domestic violence is a well-known issue but not necessarily fully understood. Almost everyone can list at least one characteristic of an abusive relationship, but how many truly consider the implications of what it would mean to actually leave an abusive household?

This is the reality many find themselves in when seeking freedom from abuse. In 2020, the National Network to End Domestic Violence (NNEDV) captured a snapshot of domestic violence services received across the nation.

In a single day, 3,712 adult and child victims of domestic violence in Texas found refuge in emergency shelters, transitional housing, or other housing programs run by DV service providers.

This is compared to 38,586 adult and child victims nationwide who received emergency shelter or some other type of transitional housing. The ACLU estimates that at least 50 percent of U.S. cities report domestic violence as a primary cause of homelessness.

These numbers are only expected to increase due to issues compounded by the lingering pandemic. The reality is that there is an intimate connection between homelessness and domestic violence that cannot be ignored.

There are daunting obstacles survivors face when leaving an abuser— loss of income and financial stability, isolation, court system complexities, and even the risk that the abuse will only get worse if a survivor fails to escape.

You Are Not Alone.

Fleeing domestic violence can seem like an impossible ordeal but the truth is simple— help is out there for people trying to escape abuse.

Recent legislative updates have afforded survivors some avenues of financial relief.  In 2019, laws surrounding lease termination were expanded via SB 234, which grants survivors of family violence the right to terminate residential leases without penalty to credit or leasing history if the survivor can provide documentation that they are receiving services for family violence.

More recently, SB 798, was passed to allow survivors to obtain important identifying documents, such as IDs, birth certificates, and driver’s licenses, at no cost. Access to these documents is critical for survivors trying to get back on their feet after fleeing abuse.

For 43 years, HCWC has also been a beacon of hope for survivors of domestic violence.  Whether the need is for emergency shelter, legal advocacy, counseling, or advocacy services that allow for survivors to find additional resources for housing and rental assistance programs within the community, HCWC is always ready to assist.

In the next year, HCWC will be launching our Transitional Housing Program, which will include 18 units that will be available for families looking to restart healthy, happy lives.

If you need shelter, support, or resources due to domestic violence, please call our 24-hour HELPline to talk to our advocates, all of whom are specially trained and educated to help you navigate abusive situations, both before and after leaving.