Bridge to Safety: Providing immediate support

Written by SAFE

The Bridge to Safety program provides immediate advocacy and financial assistance to people in crisis. Funded by the City of Austin, the program’s goal is preventing future victimization of survivors of sexual and domestic violence, sex trafficking, and child abuse.

But that’s not all – Bridge to Safety also mitigates the need for emergency shelter and law enforcement involvement, which helps survivors avoid homelessness and frees up city/county resources. Our 24/7 SAFEline (available by phone, text, and online chat) operates the program by offering people who need immediate safety one-time advocacy and/or financial assistance.

Here are just a few stories of how Bridge to Safety allowed SAFE to provide safety through immediate assistance:

Erin contacted SAFEline after leaving a physically and sexually abusive relationship with her husband, who is employed in local law enforcement. She left him and stayed in a hotel for a few days but ran out of money and did not have transportation. She was on the SAFE shelter waitlist and had secured space in a shelter outside of Austin, but had no way to get there. Her service animal was not allowed on the Greyhound bus. Bridge to Safety provided her with taxi fare to the shelter outside of Austin and ensured she had safe housing.

A SAFEline advocate (whose position is funded through Bridge to Safety) provided Louisa with extensive face-to-face safety planning that included pursuing a Protective Order. Louisa was able to quickly obtain a kick-out order requiring her abusive partner to leave their home, at which point Louisa said that she felt safe and did not need shelter.

Angela was on our waitlist for shelter and was weeks away from giving birth. She recently left her partner who strangled her. Her partner had been stalking her and was escorted out of the building at her last prenatal appointment due to the disturbance he caused when her doctor asked to speak to her alone. Following this, Angela stayed with a friend for a few days, but her partner continued to stalk her there. Fearing for the safety of her friend and her friend’s children, Angela moved out. She contacted family in another state who agreed that she could stay with them, but they didn’t have any way to pick her up. Bridge to Safety provided her with gas cards and oil for her car to get her there.

By the numbers

Based on client feedback:

  • 100% of people assisted by Bridge to Safety reported that the help increased their immediate safety
  • 100% clients reported that the program will prevent future interactions with law enforcement
  • The vast majority of clients served were women (the youngest was 18 years old and the oldest was over 65.)

Bridge to Safety began seeing clients on April 1, 2019. Since then, SAFE has served 215 clients. Including children in the family, that is more than 500 people who received support. The program ensures that safety planning and crisis intervention are offered to every client right when they need it.