Amy’s Story

Amy has been married to her husband for eight years, and they have three beautiful children together. They just moved to a new city for her husband’s job and currently live in a rental home until they can find something more permanent. She started noticing abusive patterns in her husband when she was pregnant with their first child. He would get angry at her more easily and started accusing her of having affairs. After their second child was born, he made her quit her job and stay home. Sometimes she would go weeks without talking to anyone but him and the kids since he didn’t trust her friends. The past few months, he’s been more violent than usual and even threatened her while cleaning one of his guns.

One morning, after the two oldest kids went to school, Amy’s husband started yelling at her and put his hands around her throat. She was able to get away long enough to lock herself in their bedroom where she calls the police. When the officers arrive, they ask her questions separately and help her calm down and let her know about the lethality indicators they see on the scene, including the presence of a firearm and strangulation. Her husband is arrested and the police tell her about obtaining an Emergency Protective Orders, share the information for the local family violence program, and say she will be notified before her husband is released on bail.

Law Enforcement

Relationships and Social Support

A distraught Amy calls her mom, who she has been cut off from for over a year and explains everything. Her mom reassures her and helps her talk through some next steps, including what to tell her children.

Amy obtains an Emergency Protective Order that bars her husband from staying at the house and communicating with her and their children. This gives her some immediate relief, but she still worries that he will try other ways of manipulating her. The Victim Assistance Coordinator who works with law enforcement calls her to follow-up after her husband’s arrest, and talks through some safety planning strategies that make her feel safer.

Criminal Justice System & Legal Services

Amy quickly realizes that she does not have access to any of her husband’s bank accounts. He had not let her have access to any money for so long and had done all the shopping for them. She tries to find any financial documents, checks, or bank cards, but can’t find any of that information in the house. She knows that the rent is due on the first of the month and tries to figure out what to do. Amy hopes she can stay in their rental house since her kids are doing well at the school they’re attending. She googles “help with rent” and sees a couple of different sites, including information about the local Public Housing Authority. She’s heard of their programs before, so she calls the number on the website, but the person answering the phone says there’s an 18-month wait-list for any kind of voucher or assistance. Confused and discouraged, Amy remembers the number to the local family violence center that the officer gave her and calls the hotline.
The hotline advocate that answers the line asks her a few questions about what she’s looking for and tells her about the available services. She explains that she sees shelter as a last resort and would really like help staying in her home. The hotline staff makes an appointment for her to see someone the next day to talk through different options. Amy visits the program the following day and is struck by how welcoming it is. She was expecting it to look like a doctor’s office but instead there are big comfy couches and encouraging words on the walls. She fills out some paperwork about her situation and talks to the case manager about the incident with the police. Her case manager validates that her husband’s behavior was not okay and tells Amy about the different services and remedies they can work on together.

Through the next few weeks working with her case manager at the family violence center, Amy is able to get three months of rental assistance, free counseling for her and her children, access to SNAP food benefits, and one-time cash assistance through Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF). Her case manager helped her get in touch with the local Texas Workforce Commission (TWC) office who helped her put a new resume together. TWC also told her about their program to subsidize child care for her so she could get a job without worrying about her youngest child who wasn’t in school yet. Amy was finally feeling like she knew the next steps she needed to take for her and her kids to be safe and happy.

Family Violence Service Providers

Criminal Justice System & Legal Services

A few months after his arrest, and after the Emergency Protective Order had expired, her husband applied for joint custody of the children and started threatening her again. She started getting worried that a judge would grant him equal time with the kids. Amy called her case manager who helped her calm down and set an appointment with the on-staff attorney at the family violence program. The attorney told her that she would help her file for divorce and help her gain full custody while being realistic that the judge might grant her husband joint custody. Amy worried about the proceedings but was grateful that she had free legal assistance and knowledgeable people on her side.

The day in court finally came, and she walked into the court room with confidence with her legal advocate and the program’s attorney. The lawyer was able to show a history of his abuse back to when she was pregnant with her first child, and eventually the judge granted supervised visitation to her husband. Amy walked out of the courtroom feeling self-assured and knowing that she and her children would have a community of support if they ever needed it again.

Texas Council on Family Violence
PO Box 163865
Austin, TX 78716

P 512.794.1133
F 512.685.6397

© 2020 Texas Council on Family Violence