Frequently Asked Questions

Are you in an unhealthy dating relationship?
You may be in an unhealthy relationship if your partner . . .
- gets angry when you talk or hang out with other friends or people of the opposite sex;
- bosses you around;
- often gets in fights with other people or loses his or her temper;
- pressures you to have sex or to do something sexual that you don't want to do;
- uses drugs and/or alcohol, and tries to pressure you into doing the same thing;
- swears at you or uses mean language;
- blames you for his or her problems, or tells you that it is your fault that he or she hurt you;
- insults or tries to embarrass you in front of other people;
- has physically hurt you;
- makes you feel scared of their reactions to things; and/or
- always wants to know where you are going and who you are with.

Do I need to be trained to become a volunteer?
All Hotline Intake Screeners and Hotline Attorneys are required to take volunteer training. The Volunteer Coordinator will notify all interested hotline volunteers of upcoming trainings. Non-Hotline volunteers are encouraged to attend the first training session (Domestic Violence 101).

Do you have testimonials or comments from former clients?
"I like that they made you feel very important and my choices in life were never wrong or my fault. Always had an answer to my questions."

"My attorney took the time to understand me and then my case went a lot smoother for that. She never let me feel unsure about my cases. Thank you!"

"We were well informed and just a dial away from legal help. [My attorney] was absolutely awesome about returning calls, keeping me informed; keeping me calm and assuring me she was in control of the issues. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts."

"I felt safe knowing an attorney was representing me and was by my side to defend me. They returned my calls ASAP. It is an excellent agency. They answered all questions I had. They return all my calls. They were speedy and accurate and handled my case in a very professional manner. Thank you so much for representing me."

"I learned about abuse and how to identify it. The legal help made a difference to make me strong enough to get a divorce. I for one could not afford a divorce otherwise. I was totally pleased with all services: very, very grateful."

"[My attorney] kept me sane through a very scary process and saw me on to the final divorce. [She] saved my life, literally. I was desperate, terrified, ignorant and exposed. [My attorney] was my champion. When the Texas Advocacy Project called to take my case, everything hopeless began to fall away. I could focus on the steps required to press on to victory. I cannot say enough to express how professional, kind, strong, focused, and just plain smart I think [my attorney] is. She is truly amazing. I was blessed."

"I live a more peaceful life. I am really happy about the services that I received. It helped me a lot. I am very, very satisfied."

"[The legal services] made me so strong enough to stand on my own, that I know I am able to do it."

"My husband became aware that I was no longer alone. It was encouraging to me to know that I had help. Your services are a godsend. My attorneys were very professional and courteous at all times. They relieved me of the financial burden, but most of all they helped me emotionally. It gave me freedom from a marriage that was violent and volatile. I am so grateful to everyone at your organization. I have nothing but high praises for all that you have done for me. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for your kindness, your patience, your understanding and hard work. God bless you all."

"I knew the correct legal steps were being taken. I was very frustrated doing it on my own. I see why women give up and go back: too many legalities and fear. [With the legal help] I was actually able to sleep again and felt in control of my life. [My attorney] was so understanding and compassionate. She kept telling me what a strong woman I was, listened and understood me. Words can't express how [my attorney] made me feel. You are very fortunate to have her on your team. My life is better for having her in it. Thank you."

"I'm able to go and come as I please without going home to someone who accuses me of doing something wrong. I liked being able to call my attorney and if message left, attorney returned my calls and was informative. I'm happy to have had the chance for the Texas Advocacy Project to accept my case. Thank you."

"My encounter with the attorney [for an intake] was great. She answered all my questions and concerns about my case. Thank you."

"Everything [in the intake interview] was discussed clearly and thoroughly. If this were not the most difficult moment in my life, I would feel happy about my meeting here."

"Intake interview went well. I appreciate the useful info given to me in terms of the legal aspects/reality of a divorce. I also appreciate the patience with scheduling times to meet."

"The attorneys here are very caring, show concern and eagerly share information. They make me feel as though they truly care about my safety and what happens to me."

"I really appreciated the mix of frankness and candor with kindness and understanding [in the intake interview]. [My attorney really did a great job helping me focus and stay on track during the interview. It was very grounding. She has given me hope of getting free from 26 years of torment and pain."

"I would like to share information on how your intake interview is helpful. They discuss a lot of information on safety. It even brings memories of the past back up and made me realize the present is a better place. The questions they ask are very forward and made me realize I made a good decision on the future. Thank y'all."

"[The intake attorney's] kindness and concern for me, my safety, my children was overwhelming. She was very informative regarding my particular situation. Thank you."

"[The intake attorney] was great! Very good to talk to! Brought up points I never thought of."

Does dating violence happen in homosexual relationships?
It doesn't matter what your sexual orientation, race or ethnicity, family income, or age is:
Abuse can happen to anyone.
While studies have not focused as much on abuse in homosexual relationships, studies of adults do show that the abuse happens about as frequently in homosexual relationships as in heterosexual relationships.
We should all be aware of other issues of violence against gay and lesbian teens. Bullying and physical and emotional attacks are common against teens who are open about their homosexuality or perceived to be homosexual. Homosexual teens may also be raped or sodomized by people who have strong negative feelings about homosexuality.

How can I help a friend in an abusive dating relationship?
1. Tell them that you care
Criticizing others' relationships will make them defensive and unwilling to listen so be sure to explain your position - you are concerned about them and you care. Do not be judgmental: explain that your friend is not to blame for this situation and help your friend recognize that the abuser's excuses are not okay, violence and emotional abuse are wrong no matter what.

2. Tell them that you are scared for their safety
Many friends will not take you seriously unless you make it clear that you are scared for them. Help them think of ways to stay safe (for example: walk with them to and from school, have them come over to your house, do not let them go places alone)

3. Tell them that you will be there for them whenever they are ready to get help.

You cannot make decisions for your friend because that is what their abuser does. Be supportive: a friend may want to stay in the relationship, or break up and get back together. If this is the case, do not tell them that they are wrong, stand by them and try to understand that they are in a difficult situation.

Understand that this is a process and they may not leave immediately.
Do not isolate them, even if they get back together with the abuser, stay by their side. This will help them get strong enough to make the right choices.

Help your friend recognize the abuse: Ask questions about the relationship and try to help them see the signs of abuse.

Support your friend's strength: Encourage their strength and courage and point out the things they do to take care of themselves. Try to get your friend to do things with you or your other friends to get a break from the relationship.

4. Try to get your friend to talk to an adult
Offer to go with them to speak with a parent, counselor, or support group.
Listen to their concerns and keep their confidences. HOWEVER: IF you are worried for their physical safety YOU MUST TELL AN ADULT, even if it means they will be mad. Do not promise them that you will not tell anyone else because it is important for you to be honest with them about this-- talk to your friend about who, when, and how to tell.

How can I help prevent my teen from experiencing dating violence?
First of all, be sure to talk to your kids about violence and abusive relationships when they are young and continue to talk about it throughout their teen years. Let them know that no form of violence is acceptable behavior; they should not hurt others, and others should not hurt them. Suggest ways of dealing with a violent situation if it occurs.

Second, demonstrating appropriate non-violent ways of acting and positive ways of handling conflict in your relationships is one of the most effective ways to teach your kids to avoid violence. In other words, simply show your kids by example how to behave appropriately. Treating yourself and your partner with respect will teach your kids to do the same in their dating relationships. How you handle conflict with your child will also teach her or him how to behave and how they should be treated.

Third, role playing can be a fun, and it is an effective way of teaching kids and teens appropriate ways of removing themselves from the immediate situation of violence and seeking help. In this case, role playing is simply setting up a pretend situation when dating violence may occur. Each person acts out the role, pretending to be in that situation. Many different solutions can come up during role playing. It's a great way to teach kids and teens what might work and what might not. Do not actually engage in violence during the role play.

Here are some suggestions for role playing. Role playing is most successful when you each take on different roles with each situation.
A dating partner becomes jealous and tries to control what the other does, where they go or whom they talk to. On a date, the girl is in her partner's car in a deserted area, and he tries to force her to have sex. One person has just been slapped, pinched, or punched by the dating partner at school. A dating partner calls the other names and threatens him/her. One friend tells another their dating partner abuses them.

How can I help my son choose not to be violent in dating relationships?
Studies have show that boys are more likely to initiate violence in dating relationships and that when they do act violently, it is more likely to cause serious harm to their dating partners. For this reason, it is especially important that we teach our sons to respect girls as valuable human beings and equals. Teach your son appropriate ways of dealing with conflict. Talk to your son about how you expect him to treat his dates. Finally, let your sons know that they are valuable young men who have a lot to contribute.

How can I request an Emergency Protective Order?
The EPO can be requested in the following ways:
1. By the victim of the alleged family violence offense;
2. By a guardian of the victim;
3. By an attorney representing the state and
4. By a peace officer.
The court may also issue the order on its own motion and, in certain circumstances, the order will be mandated by law.

How can I stay safe from an abusive dating partner?
Use a journal to keep track of the date the violence happened, where you were, exactly what the person you are dating did, and exactly what effects it caused (such as bruises). This will be important if you need the courts to order the person to stay away from you.

Consider telling trusted friends, family members or co-workers. They can help screen telephone calls or visitors. Tell teachers, counselors, coaches, or security guards about what is happening at work or school.

If you are ready to break up / leave your partner, do so over the phone or in a public place. Let other people know of your plans and let them know where you'll be. Breaking up, and immediately after, can be the most dangerous time.

Try not to be alone and avoid contact with the person. Spend time with your other friends and tell them what is happening. Never walk alone.

Make a list of phone numbers, including 911, crisis lines, and supportive friends that you can call when you are upset. Keep the list in a safe place, or program them into your cell phone.

Trust your instincts. If you feel you are in danger, call 911 immediately!

Check out the sample Safety Plan for Teens in our "Documents" section.

How can my teen stay safe from an abusive dating partner?
Share these tips with your teen:

Use a journal to keep track of the date the violence happened, where you were, exactly what the person you are dating did, and exactly what effects it caused (such as bruises). This will be important if you need the courts to order the person to stay away from you.

Consider telling trusted friends, family members or co-workers. They can help screen telephone calls or visitors. Tell teachers, counselors, coaches, or security guards about what is happening at work or school.

If you are ready to break up / leave your partner, do so over the phone or in a public place. Let other people know of your plans and let them know where you'll be. Breaking up, and immediately after, can be the most dangerous time.

Try not to be alone and avoid contact with the person. Spend time with your other friends and tell them what is happening. Never walk alone.

Make a list of phone numbers, including 911, crisis lines, and supportive friends that you can call when you are upset. Keep the list in a safe place, or program them into your cell phone.

Trust your instincts. If you feel you are in danger, call 911 immediately!

How do I talk to my teen about dating violence?
How to get the conversation started:

Finding the right moment to talk with your teen may seem daunting. Find a quiet place. Take your teen for a drive or to a quiet café with no distractions. You obviously want good results.

Remember this conversation have two primary goals.
1. You want to have a conversation which reinforces your teen that you are a real resource that they are safe going to. This means you want your child to know you will act to help them and will be a non-judgmental listener.
2. You want your teen to understand that there are realistic strategies for safety and dealing with the situation.

A good way to begin is by simply asking, “How’s it going?” Ease into this conversation so your teen won’t feel like they're on the spot. Acknowledge their answer and feelings. Depending on their mood, the next step may be asking, “What are your friends’ dating relationships like?” What’s the difference between “dating” and “committed” relationships? How long do the couples you know stay together? Do they make any kind of commitment to each other? Are there certain things girls want that boys don’t? Are there certain things that boys want that girls don’t? These questions may give you insight into how your teen views relationships. You may find stereotypical themes in your teen’s view of relationships or you may find your teen thinks mutual respect is key in any relationship. You will only find out by asking.
You may want to ask your teen if they have ever seen any abusive behavior between two people who are going out. Offer a scenario. “A boy sees his girlfriend talking to another guy, so he pulls her by the arm and yanks her away.” Would you call this violent? What does your son think about this behavior? Would you be shocked if your daughter said it was “just what guys do” and “no big deal”?

Tips for parents:
• Start the conversation. It is not easy to talk about such a painful topic. Imagine how hard it must be for your child to raise the issue -- especially if she is a victim of dating violence. Ask about your teen's relationships by showing concern rather than judgment, so your child does not feel threatened.

• Talk with your kids on their level. Teens don't always get it when you speak to them in abstract terms. Honesty discuss dating and dating violence, using examples such as public figures, book, movie or television characters, or people they know. Use both positive and negative examples.

• Talk often. This will help establish clear channels of communication that confirms your interest in your teen's life. Don't be afraid to ask questions and be honest when responding to your child's questions.

• Be available. Let your teen know that you are always available to talk with her and that nothing is more important to you than her well being. Your child will never open up about such a difficult topic if she feels that you don't have the time to talk about it.

• Give your undivided attention. Your attention should be completely focused on your child and what she has to say. Don't be distracted or allow anything to interrupt your time together. Turn off the television, allow the voice mail to pick up any incoming calls and sit down with your child, one-to-one in a relaxed environment.

• Don't be upset. Try not to get upset if your child is more comfortable talking with another trusted adult, such as a relative, teacher, coach, neighbor or religious leader. It is important that they know you are OK with them talking to another adult. Remember, the important thing is that they are turning to someone for advice.

• Don’t be afraid to let him or her know that you are concerned for their safety. Help your friend or family member recognize the abuse. Tell him or her you see what is going on and that you want to help. Help them recognize that what is happening is not “normal” and that they deserve a healthy, non-violent relationship.

• Acknowledge that he or she is in a very difficult and scary situation. Let your friend or family member know that the abuse is not their fault. Reassure him or her that they are not alone and that there is help and support out there.
Be supportive. Listen to your friend or family member. Remember that it may be difficult for him or her to talk about the abuse. Let him or her know that you are available to help whenever they may need it. What they need most is someone who will believe and listen to them.

• Be non-judgmental. Respect your friend or family member’s decisions. There are many reasons why victims stay in abusive relationships. He or she may leave and return to the relationship many times. Do not criticize his or her decisions or try to guilt them. He or she will need your support even more during those times.

• Encourage him or her to participate in activities outside of the relationship with friends and family.
If he or she ends the relationship, continue to be supportive of them. Even though the relationship was abusive, your friend or family member may still feel sad and lonely once it is over. He or she will need time to mourn the loss of the relationship and will especially need your support at that time.
Help him or her to develop a safety plan.

• Encourage him or her to talk to people who can provide help and guidance. Find a local domestic violence agency that provides counseling or support groups. Offer to go with him or her to talk to family and friends. If he or she has to go to the police, court or a lawyer, offer to go along for moral support.

• Remember that you cannot “rescue” him or her. Although it is difficult to see someone you care about get hurt, ultimately the person getting hurt has to be the one to decide that they want to do something about it. It’s important for you to support him or her and help them find a way to safety and peace.

What You Can Say to Your Teen
• “I care about what happens to you. I love you and I want to help.”
• “If you feel afraid, it may be abuse. Sometimes people behave in ways that are scary and make you feel threatened -- even without using physical violence. Pay attention to your gut feelings.”
• “The abuse is not your fault. You are not to blame, no matter how guilty the person doing this to you is trying to make you feel. Your partner should not be doing this to you.”
• “It is the abuser who has a problem, not you. It is not your responsibility to help this person change.”
"It is important to talk about this. Many people who have been victims of dating violence have been able to change their lives after they began talking to others. If you don't want to talk with me, find someone you trust and talk with that person.”

Things Not to Say or Do
• Do not be critical of your teen or his/her partner.
• Don’t ask blaming questions such as: “Why don’t you break up with him/her?” or “What did you say to provoke your partner?”
• Don’t pressure your teen into making quick decisions, let them know that you are there for them whether they decide to move forward now, change their mind, or move forward in the future
• Don’t talk to both teens together. The victim may feel inhibited about what he/she can say.
• Don’t assume that the victim wants to leave the abusive relationship. Assist him/her in assessing the situation and understanding the options available

How long does an Emergency Protective Order last?
The length of time the EPO lasts will vary depending on the circumstances. The magistrate may issue the order for a minimum of 31 days and a maximum of 91 days. When a deadly weapon has been displayed, the order must be issued for a minimum of 61 days.

How often does teen dating violence happen?
• Relationship violence is the number one cause of injury to women between the ages of 15-44.
• 70% of severe injuries and deaths occur when the victim is trying to leave or has already left the relationship.
• 70% of pregnant teenagers are abused by their partners.
• 63% of boys ages 11-20 arrested for murder were arrested for murdering the man who was assaulting their mother.
• 38% of date rape victims are young women between the ages of 14 and 17.
• 24% of female homicide victims are between 15 and 24 years old.

If I apply to be a volunteer will a background check be performed?
For the protection of our clients, we reserve the right to perform a background check on all prospective volunteers.

Is teen dating violence similar to adult domestic violence?
Teen dating violence is similar to adult domestic violence in several ways:
• Both teen dating violence and adult domestic violence effect people from all socioeconomic, racial, and ethnic,
and religious groups
• Both occur in heterosexual, gay, and lesbian relationships
• Both tend to show patterns of repeated violence which escalate over time
• Both tend to display violent and abusive behavior interchanged with apologies and promises to change
• Both tend to show increased danger for the victim when she is

Teen Dating Violence is also very different from adult domestic violence.

There are several things that make teenage dating violence different from adult domestic violence. Usually, when a teen is abused, she becomes isolated from her peers because of the controlling behavior of her abusive partner.

The isolation teens face in abusive dating situations often makes it hard to:
• develop new and mature relationships with peers of both sexes.
• feel emotionally independent.
• develop personal values and beliefs.
• stay focused on school and get good grades.

Is there ever a time when the court says an Emergency Protective Order must be given?
An EPO is mandatory if the offender is arrested for an offense that involved either:
1. serious bodily injury as defined by the Texas Penal Code, or
2. the use or exhibition of a deadly weapon during the commission of an assault.

More Signs That Your Teen is a Victim of Dating Violence
• Is your teen withdrawing from school activities?
• Has your son or daughter become secretive, ashamed or hostile to (or isolated from) parents,
family or friends because of the relationship?
• Does your teen’s partner call several times a night or show up unexpectedly to “check up?”
• Does your son or daughter apologize for his/her partner’s behavior?
• Has your teen stopped hanging out with friends?

Other Warning Signs:
• Physical bruises, signs of injury or damaged personal property. Be aware of explanations that
seem out of place or changes in make-up or dress.
• The use of alcohol or other drugs could be a teen’s response to pressure from his/her partner. It
may also be an attempt to numb pain or emotions. However, substance abuse is no excuse for
or escape from violent behavior. If the alcohol or other drugs were taken away, the underlying
causes and the violence in the relationship may still not be resolved.

If you notice any of the behaviors described above in your teen, it is an indication that your teen
may be involved in dating violence.

Teen Dating Violence Awareness and Prevention Week
This year, February 5-9, 2007 was Teen Dating Violence Awareness Week.
75% of Texas youth (ages 16-24) have personally experienced dating violence or know someone who has, according to a 2006 survey conducted by the Texas Council on Family Violence.

50 dating violence awareness and prevention tool-kits, funded by federal, state and local agencies, reached more than 1,100 students last year, and they are crucial in educating the community and Texas youth about the warning signs of abusive relationships and the importance of healthy relationships.
This year we've distributed 200 kits!

Special thanks to our partners in this effort:
SafePlace, Texas Council on Family Violence, Texas Association Against Sexual Assault, and the Governor's Commission for Women.

Special thanks to the organizations providing additional content for the kits:
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Choose Respect Campaign, the American Bar Association's Dating and Violence Should Never be a Couple Campaign, and Liz Claiborne's Love is Not Abuse Campaign.

What are my teen’s rights at school regarding dating violence?
HB 121: School Dating Violence Policies
- On May 18, 2007, HB 121 was signed into law by the Governor of Texas. HB 121 says that every school district in Texas must adopt and implement a dating violence policy.
- The dating violence policy must include a definition of dating violence that includes the intentional use of physical, sexual, verbal, or emotional abuse by a person to harm, threaten, intimidate, or control another person in a dating relationship.
- Additionally, the policy must address safety planning, enforcement of protective orders, school-based alternatives to protective orders, training for teachers and administrators, counseling for affected students, and awareness education for students and parents.

What does this mean for my teen?
-If your teen is in a violent relationship with someone that attends the same school, or if your teen experiences dating violence while at school, the school can help. Your teen should tell a teacher, counselor, or administrator about the dating violence so that the school can work to keep your teen safe.
-Schools can take action to ensure safety. Examples include rearranging class schedules, disciplinary action against the abusive student, and “Stay-Away Agreements” (students in a violent dating relationship may not interact on school grounds).

Your school will should soon start working on a dating violence policy to comply with this law. A team of Texas service providers are preparing a tool-kit including a model policy and other dating violence materials.
If you have questions about this- you can call the Teen Justice Initiative at 512-225-9579.

What are my teen’s rights at school regarding sexual harassment?
Title IX: Protection Against Sexual Harassment at School

What is sexual harassment?
- Sexual harassment is a form of sex discrimination that violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
- Defined: Unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature constitutes sexual harassment when submission to or rejection of this conduct explicitly or implicitly affects an individual’s employment, unreasonably interferes with an individual’s work performance or creates an intimidating, hostile or offensive work environment.

What does this mean for my teen?
- Schools have a duty to their students (just as employers have a duty to their employees) to keep the learning environment comfortable and safe. If schools fail to meet this duty, they can be subject to legal liability.
- The United States Supreme Court has held that when a student is harassed by his or her teacher, the victim may sue his or her school district under Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 for damages when a school district official, who “has authority to institute corrective measures on the district’s behalf has actual notice of, and is deliberately indifferent to school acts with deliberate indifference to, the teacher’s misconduct.”
- The Supreme Court has also held that if a school acts with deliberate indifference to student-on-student harassment, a victim may sue the school for damages under Title IX.

If you are concerned that your child is being sexually harassed at school:
- You can make a special complaint called a “Title IX Report” to your school administrator. After such a report is made, the school’s Title IX coordinator will investigate and file a report. The school may take action to protect your child at this time. If you would like to read more about this, check our your school district’s school policy manual.
- For questions call our Dating Violence Legal Line 1-800-374-HOPE and ask for the Teen Justice Initiative.

What are the facts and statistics about Teen Dating Violence?
• Dating abuse is not just physical. It is defined as: "Any hurtful or unwanted physical, sexual, verbal, or emotional act inflicted by a casual or intimate dating partner." Source: C. McShane, "Warning: Dating May Be Hazardous To Your Health", 1988.

It’s an epidemic:
• One-third of teens report experiencing some kind of abuse in their romantic relationships, including verbal and emotional abuse.
Source: Carolyn Tucker Halpern, Ph.D. et al., "Partner Violence among Adolescents in Opposite-Sex Romantic Relationships: Findings from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health." American Journal of Public Health 91 (2001) 1680.
• More than 1 in 10 teens-- about 12%-- experience actual physical violence in their dating relationships.
• Women ages 16 to 24 are most likely to be victims of dating violence
Source: US Dept. of Justice.
• During the 1996-1997 school year, there were an estimated 4,000 incidents or acts of sexual assault in public schools across the United States.
• 40% of teenage girls between the ages or 14-17 report knowing someone their age who has been hit or beaten by a boyfriend.
• 34% of men and women have directly witnessed an incident of domestic violence.
Every 16 seconds, a woman in the U.S. is beaten.
Source: The F.B.I.
• 58% of rape victims were attacked between the ages of 12-24, and 9 out of 10 rapes where the offender is under 18 involve a victim also under 18.
• Abusers are found in all classes and types of people: rich, poor, professional, unemployed, black, white, urban, and rural.
• One out of every four gay and lesbian couples experiences domestic violence in their relationship-that's approximately the same rate as straight couples.

It’s not your fault:
• Jealousy and possessiveness are signs that a person sees you as a piece of his or her property. It is the most common early warning sign of abuse.
• Abusers believe they have the right to use abuse to control their partner and they see the victim as less than equal to themselves. The victim has no control over the abuser.
• Both victims and abusers blame the victim for violent dating behavior, citing reasons like: the victim was “asking for it”; the victim's personality type; the victim's need for affection; communication problems; and peer group influence.
• People stay in abusive relationships for many reasons, including fear, economic dependence, and confusion. People who stay in abusive relationships often think that the abuser needs their help or will change.

The danger is real:
• A woman is more likely to be injured, raped or killed by a current or former partner than by any other person.
Source: World Health Organization, Department of Injuries and Violence Prevention, "Violence against Women: A Priority Health Issue." July 1997.
• Between 1993 and 1999, 22% of all homicides against females ages 16-19 were committed by an intimate partner.
• 42% of all women who are murdered in this country are killed by their husband or boyfriend.
• An average of 28% of high school and college students are assaulted by someone they are or were dating.

Violence can be a cycle:
• Approximately one in five adolescent girls report being physically or sexually hurt by a dating partner, significantly increasing their risk of drug abuse, suicide and other harmful behavior.
Source: Jay G. Silverman, Ph.D. et al., "Dating Violence against Adolescent Girls and Associated Substance Use, Unhealthy Weight Control, Sexual Risk Behavior, Pregnancy, and Suicidality." Journal of the American Medical Association 286 (October 2001) 572.
• Patterns of dating violence behavior often start early, increase in severity, and continue in future adult relationships.
• If a teenage girl is physically assaulted during an episode of dating violence while in high school, she is statistically highly likely to experience another physical assault during her first year in college.
• Over 1/3 of women who are victims of domestic violence report that their children are also being abused.
Source: National Coalition Against Domestic Violence
• 81 out of every 100 men who beat their wives watched their fathers beat their mothers or were abused themselves.
Source: U.S. Department of Justice

You can get help:
• Although young people are reluctant to speak out about dating violence, those who do often find talking helpful.
Source: Jackson, S.M., Cram, F, & Seymour, F.W. (2000) Violence and Sexual Coercion in High School Students’ Dating Relationships. Journal of Family Violence, 15, 23-36.
• Battered women who have permanent protective orders are 80% less likely to be physically assaulted by their partners in the year after their attack than women without protective orders.
Source: V. Holt, et. al. Civil Protection Orders and Risk of Subsequent Police Reported Violence, Journal of the American Medical Association, VOL.288, P589-594 (August 7, 2002).
• The only service that positively correlated with a 21% national decline in the incidence of domestic violence over an 8-year period is the provision of legal services to victims.
Source: Farmer & J. Tiefenthaler, Explaining the Recent Decline in Domestic Violence, CONTEMPORARY ECONOMIC POLICY, vol. 21, pp158-172 (April 2003).

What are the signs of dating violence?
If you have a teen who is dating, be alert for signs of abuse, both physical and emotional. Outward signs include:
- Having bruises, scratches and other injuries.
- Changing the way she looks or dresses.
- Failing grades or dropping out of school activities
- Avioding and dropping old friends.
- Difficulty making decisions
- Sudden changes in mood or personality; becoming depressed or anxious, being secretive
- Giving up things she cares about.
- Pregnancy- some teenagers believe that having a baby will help make things better; some girls are forced to have sex

New friends as well as changes in attitudes, styles, hobbies, and school activities are common in young people. Still, they can be clues that a teen is being controlled by a boyfriend or girlfriend.

Warning signs of a Partner Who May Become Violent:
- Wants to get serious quickly- will not take NO for an answer
- Is jealous and possesive/controlling and bossy
- Uses guilt trips: "If you really loved me, you would..."
- Blames the victim for what is wrong: "It's because of you that I get so mad"
- Apologizes for violent behavior: "I promise I'll never do it again"

Emotional abuse is harder to recognize than physical abuse since it happens over time and can take several forms, including:
- Name-calling
- Put downs
- Blame
- Threats
- Envy
- Anger
- Attempts to control a partner’s dress, activities, and friendships

A young person who suffers emotional abuse may become insecure, destructive, angry, or withdrawn. He also may abuse alcohol or drugs.

What does an Emergency Protective Order prohibit an offender from doing?
1. Committing family violence or an act in furtherance of an offense under §42.07(a)(7) of the Texas Penal Code (stalking).
2. Communicating directly with the victim or with a member of the victim’s family or household in a threatening or harassing manner; and/or communicating a threat through any other person to the victim or member of the victim’s family/household.
3. Going within a minimum distance (usually 200 yards) of the victim’s or member of the victim’s family’s:
a. Residence
b. Place of Employment
c. Child care facility and/or School and Residence if different than above.

What if my teen doesn't want to talk to me?
What if my teen doesn't talk to me about their dating partners?

Because the teen years are a time of asserting independence, often teens won't discuss things with their parents. But you can still encourage respectful discussion and try to keep communication lines open. Let your teen know that you will respect their privacy, and you respect them. Ask them what things they think are abusive; then you can add to the list. Tell them if they do ever experience abuse in their relationships, they can talk to you about it. Let them know that you will not judge them or blame them about the experience no matter what and stick to that promise.

Also suggest others adults they could talk to about experiencing violence, such as a favorite teacher, a school counselor, a mentor, a spiritual leader/clergy, another family member they trust and respect like a grandparent, aunt or uncle, or even a trusted family friend. Make sure they have their phone numbers and know how to contact them. Provide them with hotline numbers they can call without giving their name if they do experience abuse, and encourage them to share the numbers with their friends.

Why Teens Don’t Tell Parents or Friends About the Violence
They are:
• afraid their parents will make them break up.
• embarrassed and ashamed.
• afraid of getting hurt.
• convinced that it is their fault or that their parents will blame them or will be disappointed.
• confused -- they may think this is what a relationship is all about.
• afraid of losing privileges like being able to stay out late or use the car.
• have little or no experience with healthy dating relationships.
• believe being involved with someone is the most important thing in their life.
• confuse jealousy with love.
• do not realize they are being abused.
• do not think friends and others would believe this is happening.
• have lost touch with friends.
• know that the abuser acts nice -- sometimes.

What is a Dating Violence Protective Order?
A Protective Order is a Court Order that protects victims of
- family violence,
- dating violence, and/or
- sexual assault.

A Protective Order may order a person:
- not to commit further acts of violence against you;
- not to harass or threaten you; and/or
- not to go near you, your home, school, or work.

To obtain a Protective Order, you must:
Be 18 or have an adult apply on your behalf (preferably a family member)
Go to court and prove that violence has occurred and
- is likely to occur again (family violence/dating violence protective orders); or
- that there is a fear of future harm (sexual assault protective orders).

If you think you might need a protective order you can;
- Apply for one yourself at your local County/District Attorney's Office,
- Hire a private attorney, OR WE CAN HELP YOU.
- Call the Teen Justice Initiative at Texas Advocacy Project (512) 476-5377 x579
or go through one of our legal hotlines:
Dating Violence Legal Line 1-800-374-HOPE / 512-476-5770
Family Law Hotline 1-800-777-FAIR / 512-476-1866
Sexual Assault Hotline 1-888-296-SAFE / 512-225-9290

What is a Temporary Ex Parte Protective Order?
It is a short term court order that is issued at the time an application is filed for a two year protective order. It is meant to provide protection for the victim until the hearing is held on the full two year order.

The court may issue the Temporary Ex Parte Order if it determines from the application that there is a clear and present danger of family violence. The order is effective for up to 20 days and can be extended for additional 20 day periods either at the applicant's request or by the court's own initiative.

A victim may request that the respondent be excluded from the house by the Temporary Ex Parte Order. If the court finds there is a clear and present danger that the respondent is likely to commit family violence against someone in the household, the respondent may be excluded from the residence. The victim must have resided on the premises within thirty days of the date the application was filed.

The Temporary Ex Parte Order is not criminally enforceable and is enforceable only through civil contempt proceedings.

What is an Emergency Protective Order?
An Emergency Protective Order (EPO) is a criminally enforceable court order that can be issued to the abuser following an arrest on a family violence offense. The victim is not required to be present in court when the order is issued and there is no separate application process required of the victim.

What is dating violence?
Dating violence (or relationship abuse) is a pattern of over-controlling behavior that someone uses against a girlfriend or boyfriend. Dating violence can take many forms, including mental/emotional abuse, physical abuse, and sexual abuse. So, you may experience dating violence even if you are not being physically abused. Dating violence can occur in both casual dating situations and serious, long-term relationships.

What is Relationship Violence?
• A pattern of behavior used by someone to maintain control over his or her partner.
• It can take the form of verbal, physical, emotional, or even sexual abuse.
• Relationship violence is not about getting angry or having a disagreement.
• In an abusive relationship, one partner is afraid of and intimidated by the other.

What is Teen Dating Violence?
Dating violence (or relationship abuse) is a pattern of violent behavior that someone uses against a girlfriend or boyfriend. It can occur in both casual dating situations and serious, long-tem relationships, homosexual and heterosexual relationships. Dating violence can take many forms. Abuse isn't just hitting. It can include:
- yelling,
- threatening,
- name calling,
- saying "I'll kill you or myself if you leave me,"
- obsessive phone calling, texting, or paging,
and extreme possessiveness.

You may experience dating violence even if you are not being physically abused.

What is the difference in dating violence for boys and girls?
• One study showed that a little over one-third of both girls and boys said they had been physically abused by a dating partner, but the experience was much worse for girls than boys.
• Girls experienced the more severe forms of violence and the boys experienced less severe forms.
• For example, girls "are much more likely to be punched and forced to engage in sexual activity against their will" (rape).
• Boys are more likely "to be pinched, slapped, scratched, and kicked" (Molidor: 2000).
• Boys also said that when they did experience physical violence they usually did not get hurt.
• However, almost 50% of the girls said the violence was severe, that their dating partner "hurt me a lot" and "caused bruises", and/or they "needed medical attention" because of their injuries.
• Because girls often fight back, it is likely that many of the physically violent experiences the boys report are due to girls defending themselves against their boyfriends abusing them or forcing them to have sex.
• Also, girls said that it was the boys who most often started the physical violence (70% of abusive acts) while boys said the girls started the abuse less than one third of the time (27%).

What services can I expect when I call the Hotlines?
When you first call one of our hotlines, a screener will ask you a series of questions to see if we can help. If you and your questions match our services, then the screener will ask you for a safe time to have an attorney call you back. You can expect a callback in about 2-3 days. The attorney who calls you back cannot represent you in court or draft any court documents for you. The attorney can listen to your situation, give you legal advice, and give you referrals to local resources that may be a help to you.

When and where does the abuse happen?
• Relationship violence can occur at school — in the hall, in the classroom, in the parking lot, on the bus, at after-school activities, or at a school dance.
• Abuse can happen at a student’s workplace, or at a student’s home.
• In teenage dating relationships, the abuse is often public with peers witnessing the abuse; however, the abuse can also occur in private.

Abuse can happen any time the dating partners are together. Some studies show that abuse in dating relationships is more likely to occur on the weekends, possibly because that is when most dates occur. However, one study showed that a lot of dating violence occurs at school, either in the building or on the grounds.

Who can I call about Teen Dating Violence?
National Domestic Violence Hotline
1-800-799-SAFE (7233)
1-800-787-3224 (TTY)

Help is available to callers 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Hotline advocates are available for victims and anyone calling on their behalf to provide crisis intervention, safety planning, information and referrals to agencies in all 50 states, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Assistance is available in English and Spanish with access to more than 140 languages through interpreter services. If you or someone you know is frightened about something in your relationship, please call the National Domestic Violence Hotline.

Teen Justice Initiative @ the
Texas Advocacy Project
(512) 225-9579

The Teen Justice Initiative helps survivors of teen dating violence through outreach and legal education for parents, students, schools, and the community and by providing free and confidential legal advice to young people in Texas and legal representation to minors seeking protective orders in Travis County

The Texas Advocacy Project
Family Violence Legal Line
1-800-373-HOPE / 512-476-5770
Sexual Assault Legal Hotline
1-800-296-SAFE / 512-225-9290
Family Law Hotline
1-800-777-FAIR / 512-476-1866

The Texas Advocacy Project operates three statewide toll-free legal hotlines: the Family Violence Legal Line, the Sexual Assault Legal Line and the Family Law Hotline. These hotlines are staffed by attorneys who provide assistance to Texans on a variety of legal concerns related to domestic violence, sexual assault and family law. Callers will first speak to an Intake Specialist who gathers initial information and determines which of our resources is most appropriate for the caller. An attorney then contacts the caller, gathers some essential information to assure the legal advice given is appropriate, and answers the caller's legal questions.

(512) 267-SAFE
(927-9616 TTY for deaf callers)

Answered by a real person 24 hours a day with information in English and Spanish on domestic violence and sexual assault services, crisis counseling, shelter admissions, referrals, etc.

Who does dating violence affect?
• Relationship violence occurs between two people who are currently or formerly involved in a dating relationship.
• The abuse can begin at a very young age, as young as 11 or 12 years old.
• Friends of the couple are usually aware of the abuse and may be drawn into the situation.
• Or, when a teen is abused, she may become isolated from her peers because of the controlling behavior of her abusive partner.

Will anyone find out that I called?
It is not only important to us that you and your information remain confidential; it is also our professional responsibility. We do not give out names or contact information on anyone who contacts our organization. You can let us know when it is safe to contact you and if it is safe to leave messages, and we will honor those requests to the best of our ability. It is important however, to be aware of how you contact us. Cell phones keep records of outgoing calls and computers keep records of past websites visited.