Steps To Freedom

How to Escape Power-Based Abuse

You Are Never Alone.

Six steps to a life you deserve, free from fear. Whichever step you are on, we can help you.

How do I know I'm in an abusive relationship?

Knowing can save your life.

If you recognize that you are in an abusive relationship, it is critical that you get out of that relationship before it escalates from emotional and verbal abuse to physical abuse and violence.

Familiarize yourself with the signs of emotional and verbal abuse. Someone who does these things is very often also capable of physical abuse and violence.

Take a look at the signs and see if they apply to your relationship, or the relationship of someone you are concerned about. If any of these signs sound familiar or apply to you, we can help.


What You Need To Know

The First Step is Understanding. Call us today

You Don't Have To Do This Alone

Legal help gives you a clear path.

A legal advocate will help you understand everything that is happening, explain your options, help you make a plan, and defend you each step of the way. The attorneys, staff, and volunteers at Texas Advocacy Project have decades of experience getting people through hard situations.

Contact a Legal Advocate Today

Let our experienced attorneys guide you through the entire process. Our services are always completely free. Call Now

You May Have to Try Several Times, But You Can Leave

The first step is the hardest.

Plan ahead to be ready when the time for action comes.
  • Identify local agencies and services that can help you.
  • Find out about legal options to enhance your safety and independence: protective orders, divorce, custody arrangements and child support.
  • Keep important phone numbers (such as your shelter contact, attorney, police) with you at all times. Write them down, so if you lose your cell phone you will still have them.
  • Consider using a public phone and public computer (such as at your local library) to call and research organizations in your area who can help you. Abusers often look at cell phone records and use technology to spy on personal computer equipment.
  • Give some money, an extra set of keys, copies of your important documents, a bag of clothes and essentials (including medicines) to someone you trust for safekeeping for when you're ready to leave.
  • Have someone you can go stay with if necessary.
  • Identify a neighbor you can tell about the violence and ask them to call for help if they hear a disturbance coming from your home.
  • Take steps to increase or establish your independence. For example, open a savings account in your own name, or find out about job opportunities and transportation options.
  • Practice getting out of your home safely. Identify which doors, windows, elevator or stairs would work best.
  • Review your safety plan with a domestic violence advocate in your area (Texas Advocacy Project personnel can provide an advocate, or point you in the direction of other options for advocacy. Simply call 800-374-HOPE).
Get out of any immediate danger.
  • First and most importantly, trust your instincts and judgment to keep yourself safe in a dangerous situation.
  • If an argument begins, move to a room where you can get to an exit.
  • Avoid the kitchen, bathroom or anywhere potential weapons are kept.
  • Agree on a code word to let your children, family or neighbors know that you need help.
  • Use your planned escape routes to leave and get help. Get to a phone and call 911 if you're or your children’s safety or life is threatened.

Create Your Safety Plan

Create a Safety Plan before you are in the middle of a tough, stressful situation. Start Today

Legal Tools and Resources To Rely On Once You've Left

Yes, you really can stay safe once you leave.

Take these actions after you've left the abuser/agressor.
  • Change or add locks to your doors and windows. Add a peephole and increase outdoor lighting.
  • Get an unlisted telephone number and Caller ID to screen calls. Buy or borrow a cellular phone - keep it charged and with you at all times. Call 911 if you are in danger.
  • Try to keep your location confidential. Consider getting a P.O. Box and use it as your mailing address (instead of your physical address) whenever possible. If businesses tell you they need a physical location ask if they may be willing to make an exception if you explain you're in a domestic violence situation.
  • You can also look into The Address Confidentiality Program (ACP) in Texas.
  • Use caution when entering personal information online. You can find more information on safety and technology by visiting National Center for Victims of Crime.
Use protective orders to increase your safety.
  • Keep your protective order with you at all times. Leave copies in your purse, at work, with a friend or in your car.
  • Tell family, friends and neighbors that you have a protective order in effect. Ask them to call the police if they see the batterer near you or your home.
  • Call the police immediately if your batterer violates the protective order. Try to have a phone with you at all times for this purpose.
Keep your children safe.
  • Find legal options to enhance your safety in custody and visitation arrangements, including safe exchanges and supervised or restricted visitation.
  • Explore options for communicating safely with the batterer concerning your children. Visit our directory of useful websites for more.
  • Notify your children's school(s) and/or daycare about custody arrangements. Provide them with a copy of your protective order and custody order.
  • Find counseling for your children.
  • Ask a counselor, attorney or other domestic violence professional about how to talk to your children about safety concerns.
  • Contact the Children's Passport Issuance Alert Program with the State Department at 888-407-4747 and request to be notified if a passport application is being processed for your child.
Keep yourself safe on the job and in public.
  • Decide whom you will inform at work about your situation. This may include your office building's security officers. Provide a picture of the batterer if possible.
  • Arrange to have someone screen your phone calls if possible.
  • Devise a plan for leaving work safely. Consider having someone escort you to your vehicle, bus or train. If you can, vary the routes you use to go home.
  • Anticipate and rehearse in your mind what you will do if something happens to you while you are traveling or out in public.
  • Find someone you can safely talk to for the support you need - discuss your options with someone you trust. Consider attending a support group to learn more about yourself, your particular situation and your choices.

Learn More About Emergency Protective Orders (EPO)

EPOs give you space safe from the offender to make decisions Learn More

Your rights are not limited to your safety.

Get legal help with finances, child support, and other critical areas.

Abuse isn't just physical. Your abuser/aggressor can threaten you with loss of custody, property and possessions to try to exert control over you. Texas Advocacy Project provides assistance to you in defending your rights to children, property and possessions, to remove this threat from your life, and make sure you maintain what is rightfully yours.

Learn More About Our Economic Abuse Services

Get free legal representation to help you with child support enforcement. Learn More

Support Doesn't Stop Once You've Gotten Free

There are people and resources to help you in your new life

Texas Advocacy Project has a robust network of community agencies, non-profits, volunteers, and partners to help you get the resources and support you need to build your new life.

Helpful Resources

Access free resources to help you live your life free from fear. Learn More


Get FREE legal help now: 800-374-HOPELearn More About Our Legal Services