Domestic Violence & Sexual Assault

If you are experiencing dating or family violence, call one of the hotlines listed below for help. Learn more about family violence here and about dating violence here.

National Domestic Violence Hotline
Staffed 24 hours a day by trained counselors who can provide crisis assistance and information about shelters, legal advocacy, health care centers, and counseling.
1-800-799-SAFE (7233)
1-800-787-3224 (TDD)

Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network

Texas Advocacy Project (information, legal advice, attorney referrals for victims of domestic violence & family law matters)

  • Family Violence Hotline: 800-374-4673 (HOPE)
  • Sexual Assault Hotline: 888-296-7233 (SAFE)
  • Family Law Hotline: 800-777-3247 (FAIR)

Texas Legal Services Center – Legal Aid for Survivors of Sexual Assault
Hotline: 1-844-303-SAFE (7233)

Texas Council on Family Violence

Hotline and support services and shelter for sexual and domestic violence
(512) 267-7233

Families In Crisis, Inc.
Texas hotline

Texas State Bar
Information on teen dating violence

National Child Abuse Hotline

Family Violence Prevention Fund

National Coalition Against Domestic Violence

Safe Horizons
Crime Victims HOTLINE: 800-621-4673
Rape and Sexual Assult & Incest HOTLINE: 212-227-3000
TYY (for all HOTLINES) 866-604-5350
24-hour hotline: 800-621-HOPE (4673)

National Resource Center on Domestic Violence

National Resource Center on Domestic Violence 
888-Rx-ABUSE; 800- 595 -4889

Health Resource Center on Domestic Violence
Family Violence Prevention Fund

Battered Women’s Justice Project

National Clearinghouse on Marital and Date Rape

Healthy Place
Abuse information, community, and resources

Women’s Law
Legal information and support to victims of domestic violence and sexual assault
Visit the Feminist Majority Foundation to view a fact sheet about domestic violence.

Runaway Laws

If you have run away or are thinking about running away, the Texas Youth Hotline can help you 24 hours a day, seven days a week with counseling, referrals for callers seeking food, shelter, or transportation and crisis intervention. Call them at 1-800-989-6884 or text them.

Or you can contact the National Runway Safeline which is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Call them at 1-800-786-2929.

When the Police Get Involved

In Texas, your parents or guardians can report you missing as a runaway if you are under 18. This gives the police the right to find you and return you to your parents or guardians. However, for the police to get involved someone first has to make a report that you have run away or gone missing. Some parents choose not to report anything to the police. Other parents force their teens to leave home even though the parents are still legally responsible for their children until they turn 18. If you ran away because you lived in an abusive home, you can report the abuse to any person licensed by the state (like a health worker, teacher, or police officer). These people will contact law enforcement or Child Protective Services.  You can also call Child Protective Services directly at 1-800-252-5400 to report the abuse and ask for help.

People Who Take You In

If you do not get permission from a parent or legal guardian to stay with someone else, any adult who lets you stay with them (including a relative) could be criminally charged with kidnapping, interference with child custody, and/or harboring a runaway.

Although a grandparent or adult brother or sister might not be prosecuted for taking in a runaway, the police can arrest them first and ask questions later.


Statutory Rape

In Texas, ANYONE who has any sexual contact with you when you are under 17 could be charged with “Indecency With a Child,” which is a felony. This is true even if the sexual contact was consensual, even if it didn’t involve actual intercourse, and even if you are both teenagers and close to the same age.

If someone is charged, they have a defense and should not be convicted if:

  • They are no more than three years older than you, AND
  • They are of the opposite sex, AND
  • They are not registered or convicted as a sex offender.

In practice, this means that people who meet all the requirements of this defense are usually not charged, since they would not be convicted of anything if the case went to trial. Technically, however, anyone who touches you sexually at all could be considered to be abusing you under the law.

If someone does not meet all the requirements of the defense above and has any kind of sexual contact with you while you are under 17, they could be convicted of a felony and sent to prison.

Mandatory Reporting

Texas law requires ANYONE who has reason to think that you have been harmed by abuse or neglect (including “Indecency with a Child” as described above) to make a report to Child Protective Services or to the police. Even people who might normally have to keep what you tell them confidential (like doctors, lawyers, and counselors), are legally required to make a report.

 Protective Orders

What is a protective order?

  • A protective order is a court order from a judge that makes one person stay away from another. The order can make someone stay away from your home, school, place of work, and other places that are important to you.

When can I get a protective order?

  • You can ask for a protective order if a current or former member of your family or household or someone you have a current or former dating relationship with hurt you or is threatening to hurt you.

What is the difference between a protective order and a restraining order?

  • In Texas, there is a difference between “restraining orders” and “protective orders.”
    • A protective order is enforceable by the police. This means that if someone violates a protective order, the police can be called to come immediately to help you be safe. The person violating the protective order can be arrested immediately and risks serving time in jail.
    • A restraining order is NOT enforceable by the police. If someone violates a restraining order, you have to go to court and ask a judge for a hearing to decide whether the person actually violated the restraining order.
    • If you are looking for immediate protection, you probably need a protective order, not a restraining order.

How can you get a protective order?

  • If you need assistance in obtaining a protective order, you can call the Texas Advocacy Project legal hotline at 1-800-374-HOPE or 1-899-325-SAFE.
  • Or, to get a protective order, you can call the victim assistance office in your county to get information on how to file an application. When filing the application, you will have to give a sworn statement called an “affidavit” describing recent acts of abuse and when they happened. The application must be filed in the county where you live or the county where the violence happened.

How long will it take to get a protective order?

  • A judge will make a decision whether or not to grant a temporary protective order (TPO) very quickly.
  • The TPO will state that the person accused of abuse (the respondent) must stay away from you until the final hearing.  If the TPO is granted, a hearing will be set within two weeks. The respondent will be told and have the opportunity to give evidence why a final order should not be granted.  After this formal hearing, the judge will decide whether a protective order should be granted. These orders normally last from one to two years.  They can be renewed.

What will having a protective order mean?

  • A protective order can give you some time to find a safe place to live away from your parents or abuser.  You may find a way to live on your own or find another adult who will take legal guardianship of you until you turn 18.  A protective order can help keep you safe at school.  The judge at your hearing may help you by deciding where you will live and if someone has to pay child support for you.
  • Protective Order Application Kit(.pdf)
Texas Crime Victims’ Rights and Compensation Fund

If you are the victim of a violent crime (including sexual assault and many forms of dating and family violence) or if you are the guardian or a close relative of a victim, you have certain rights in the justice system. In some cases, this includes the right financial compensation from the state Crime Victims’ Compensation Fund for money that the crime cost you (like medical costs or time taken off work to help the police).

Please visit the Texas Attorney General’s website to see if you are eligible for Crime Victims Compensation.

For 24-hour-information on jail status and court events, call 1-877-894-8463.

If you live outside of Texas, please visit the National Association of Criminal Victims for more information about your particular state.

More Resources