Survivor Resources That Helped Me
Updated: Sep 4, 2019
When I first got back to Texas earlier this year, I felt so defeated for many reasons. I’d been living on my own for seven years. It was humiliating to ask friends and family for help because I've always been the spunky, go-getter type of girl. My family didn’t even recognize who I had become, and they looked at me different. I get it. I was so negative and depressed. For a week straight, I went out with friends and binge drank every single night. It wasn’t hard to find a spot to party. After all, it is Houston. Although I was back home with friends and family, partying and pretending, I was silently crying for help. I became so accustomed to being part of a package that I didn’t even know who I was anymore. That scared me.
After that week passed, it was time to get help. I didn’t know where to start. I called the National Domestic Violence Hotline to inquire about therapy. Group therapy, one-on-one… it didn't matter. Any help was better than nothing. NDVH referred me to the Houston Women’s Center for therapy. I called the Women’s Center, and they were able to schedule me an intake session a week later. The day came, and I met my therapist. We went through a bunch of paperwork, she asked me questions and what not. I was disappointed to find out that that there was a waiting list for the one-on-one therapy. She was able to refer me to Family Houston for one-on-one therapy and Aid to Victims of Domestic Abuse (AVDA) for free legal help.
I called Family Houston that same day. This friendly lady helped me over the phone, asked a few questions and asked about my income status. I was relieved to find out that their therapy session rates were on a sliding scale based on income, which worked out for me because I was not working at the time. I don’t know why I waited so long to go to therapy. I remember begging my abuser to go to couple’s therapy. He would say yes after we made up but would go back to his normal ways as if nothing happened. Either way, I now love going to therapy, and there is nothing to be ashamed about in going.
AVDA was a little complicated to deal with—not in a bad way. Everyone was so nice and helpful, from the operator to the receptionist on site to the attorney. It was just A LOT of information to digest. The assigned paralegal emailed me before our first meeting, informing me about what to bring: abuser’s picture, social security card, vehicle and license plateinformation, place of work, etc. That part was easy. The hard part was to sit down, get all the photos, and write down a detailed log to the best of my ability. It was six years of abuse that I had to recollect and relive. Over the years, I had logged down dates and a brief description of incidents whenever a violent episode would occur. And by “violent,” I mean “physical.” I did not write down every single time abuse took place because I felt silly when I did. I was scared that my abuser would find out I was doing this. I also felt guilty that I didn’t have faith in my marriage. Meeting with my attorney went well. Not even a week later, I get a call that the ex parte (temporary protective order) was granted, and the court date for my protective order had been set. Long story short, I got the protective order granted!!!
I can’t leave out the biggest lifesaver of all: The Victim Compensation Board. Did you know all the 50 states have one? Although each state is administered independently, most programs have similar eligibility requirements and offer comparable benefits. I found this amazing resource online right before I left Los Angeles. I do have to warn you, it does take a long time. I was granted an emergency cash fund based on the police reports and the overall situation I was in. Six months later, I got reimbursed for my relocation expenses. Imagine how long it would of taken if I wasn’t granted the emergency cash fund! No matter the wait time, I was grateful for the assistance.
I’m not gonna lie, it was overwhelming at first. There’s so much paperwork and information to take in and process. A lot of it felt like a slap to the face. How did I not see all of these red flags? Why did I let the emotional, verbal, financial, and physical abuse go on as long as it did? I can’t keep beating myself about the would have, could have, should have. Through this process of getting help, I have re-discovered that you need patience and a good attitude. I know it’s easier said than done. If one can survive the abuse, one can survive the recovery. Don’t give up!
National Domestic Violence Hotline
Houston Area Women’s Center (Group Therapy)
Family Houston (One-On-One Therapy)
Aid To Victims of Domestic Abuse “AVDA”
Free Legal Aid to Harris County residents
Texas Victim Compensation Board
Texas Attorney General - Crime Victims Division
Healthcare Marketplace Exemption for 2018 and earlier
Baker-Ripley Tax Center
Free Tax Preparation