One in 3 Texans experiences domestic violence, which includes physical, emotional and verbal abuse. It can happen to anyone, in any neighborhood and any profession. Whether you’re weighing your safety or that of friends and family, here’s what to look for and ways to give or get help across Dallas-Fort Worth.
10 Warning Signs of an Abusive Relationship, from The Family Place
- Gets too close, too fast. Pressures you into a serious relationship right away.
- Always has to know where you are. Calls constantly; visits without warning; checks the mileage on your car; tracks you with mobile devices.
- Controlling. Insists you ask permission to go anywhere or do anything.
- Isolates you. Stops you from seeing friends or family or from going to work, church or school functions.
- Blames you for his or her feelings. Says “You make me angry,” instead of “I am angry.”
- Cruel to animals. Violent toward pets or other animals; mistreats, abuses or kills them.
- Displays “playful” use of force. Throws or holds you down; forces you to be intimate and doesn’t accept no for an answer.
- Verbal or emotional assaults. Constantly says cruel, hurtful things; curses and calls you names; publicly humiliates you.
- Displays sudden mood swings. Quickly switches from sweet and loving to angry and violent.
- Hurts you financially. Makes demands about how you spend your money; monitors your spending through your receipts, bank account or check book.
Where to Get Help—For Yourself or Someone You’re Concerned About
If there is immediate danger, call 911.
Denton County Friends of the Family
Emergency shelter, counseling, advocacy services for survivors and transitional housing. Denton and surrounding areas, 940/382-7273 (24-hour hotline – call or text).
The Family Place
Emergency shelter (services for women, men and children) with medical and dental care, shelter for family pets, counseling, job and life skills training, K–2 school plus other education programs, transitional housing and other assistance. The Family Place can also check bed availability and refer victims to 15 other shelters in North Texas and beyond, with more partner shelters set to come online this year. Dallas, 214/941-1991 (24-hour hotline).
Genesis Women’s Shelter & Support
Emergency shelter, counseling, legal services and transitional housing. Dallas, 214/946-4357 (24-hour hotline – call or text).
Hope’s Door New Beginning Center
Emergency shelter, counseling, case management, legal advocacy, transitional housing. Garland and Plano, 214/276-0057 (24-hour hotline).
SafeHaven of Tarrant County
Emergency shelter, transitional housing with subsidized rent assistance, counseling, case management, and legal support. Arlington and Fort Worth, 877/701-7233 (24-hour hotline).
Texas Muslim Women’s Foundation
Emergency shelter, transitional housing and immediate permanent re-housing, counseling, legal support, financial literacy assistance and case management; other social services, such as refugee advocacy, also provided. Staff members speak more than 15 languages, and the organization is open to all families. Plano, 972/880-4192 (24-hour hotline).
Signs a Friend May Be in Trouble…
- Unexplained injuries, or explanations that don’t really make sense.
- Personality changes, such as low self-esteem in someone who was always confident.
- Constantly checking in with their partner.
- Never having money on hand.
- Overly worried about pleasing their partner.
- Skipping out on work, school or social outings for no clear reason.
…and What to Say
- Let them know you care. Ask direct questions gently, and give them time to talk. If necessary, ask again a few days later. Don’t rush to provide solutions (although if someone is in immediate danger, call 911).
- Listen without judging. Victims often feel ashamed and afraid of judgment. It’s important for your friend to hear “It’s not your fault!” Explain that there’s never an excuse for domestic violence—not alcohol, drugs, financial pressures, depression, jealousy or work stress.
- Tell your friend that help is available and to contact The Family Place or another shelter listed above. If the victim lives outside Dallas-Fort Worth, call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 800/799-7233. On the other end of the line is a caring person with answers and support.
- Encourage your friend to make a plan to leave and to have important papers (birth certificates, passports, health insurance documents, photo ID, immunization records, social security cards) ready. Shelter professionals can assist with plans for leaving.
- Tell your friend to document the abuse in medical records and talk to their doctor about the abuse.
- Remind your friend that domestic violence is a serious crime and that victims can seek protection by calling the police and getting a protective order.
- If your friend remains in the relationship, continue to express your concern. It takes most victims several tries to leave an abusive relationship.
Share Your Time and Resources
- Donate items. Almost all the shelters listed above have resale shops, open to clients and the community. Clients shop at no charge, while proceeds from sales support survivor services. Find information about what donations are accepted on each organization’s website. These shelters also have Amazon Wish Lists, where you can have needed supplies sent directly to the organizations. Contact a shelter to discuss collection drives your neighborhood or group would like to host.
- Donate money. Make a financial donation through the organizations’ websites. Contact the organizations to send donations by check, or to get more information on other forms of giving (corporate programs, gifts by will or trust, etc.).
- Participate in fundraisers. The Family Place’s signature fundraiser is the Partners Card. Purchase a $75 card (which funds one night of safety for a victim) and receive discounts at hundreds of retailers and restaurants through Dallas-Fort Worth. The program is typically active in the fall.
- Volunteer. COVID-19 has limited volunteer opportunities, but each shelter has information online about how you can provide hands-on help (from organizing donations and assisting with child care to preparing meals).