Stories from the SAFElineWritten by Antwon R. Martin
Sometimes our SAFEline advocates answer calls from survivors of abuse who only want to be heard and believed. Sometimes they respond to texts from people in dire, violent relationships. And sometimes they respond to online chats from parents looking for a little guidance as they try their best to connect with their children.
These are a few stories we’ve encountered over the last few months – just a small fraction of the more than 13,000 calls, texts, and chats we receive each year.
Survivors with disabilities
While our programs and services are primarily available in Central Texas, our SAFEline advocates occasionally respond to out-of-state and even international chats. Taylor, who lives out-of-state, has multiple disabilities, including difficulty communicating verbally.
Before contacting SAFEline via online chat, Taylor had been trafficked for sex and was violently attacked by an intimate partner. Taylor was in serious danger, but couldn’t find a safe way out.
Our advocates worked with Taylor over a span of months until we were able to coordinate safe travel to Austin. Once here, Taylor was admitted into our Family Shelter.
Needing to process
Not long after our texting service went live in late 2017, our advocates were contacted by a man who had just been attacked by an ex-partner. Ben said he felt he needed to tell someone what happened, but didn’t want his ex to face criminal charges.
For a little over an hour, he recounted the night’s events. Our advocates listened to what Ben had to say, checking in to see if he needed to go to a hospital or if he would be interested in counseling. He said his injuries weren’t bad enough to need medical attention, but he’d look into counseling to help process his trauma.
In need of shelter
Andina was so isolated that she had no access to a phone. She managed to contact a SAFEline advocate using online chat because her abuser didn’t know she knew his Wi-Fi password.
Andina told our advocates that she had been hospitalized multiple times due to abuse and she was fearful for her safety. We walked her through a safety plan personalized for her situation.
Through that, we were able to bring her into the SAFE Family Shelter the next morning.
If you or someone you know may have experienced sexual or domestic violence, child abuse, or human trafficking, the confidential SAFEline is available 24/7. Our bilingual advocates are also trained to provide parenting support.
Contact SAFEline by phone at 512.267.SAFE (7233), by text at 737.888.7233, or online chat at safeaustin.org/chat.
Names changed to protect clients’ identities