Assistance fund helps domestic violence survivors where they are

26 Oct, 23

Dear Friends,

We all have a stake in uplifting Harris County and making sure our neighborhoods are safe, healthy, and thriving. Preventing violence requires strategic, coordinated investments in public health, vital services, law enforcement, and community-based programs.

That’s why we’re working across multiple fronts with agencies large and small to address a growing issue: domestic violence.

One in three Texans will experience domestic violence in their lifetimes. During the pandemic, Houston-area homicides related to intimate partner violence doubled, from 32 in 2019 to 64 in 2022.

We owe all survivors support in the immediate aftermath of violence and in the long-term. But the unfortunate reality is this: Many organizations embedded in communities of color have been excluded from larger conversations, partnerships, and resources that generate life-saving assistance.

Last year, Harris County launched the Domestic Violence Assistance Fund to make sure survivors and their families could access resources all across the region through multiple agencies. Thanks to the Fund, which is administered by the Harris County Domestic Violence Coordinating Council (HCDVCC), 19 community-based agencies now have a seat at the table. They range from longstanding local advocates like the Houston Area Women’s Center and Catholic Charities to small-but-mighty community partners serving specific neighborhoods and communities.

One of these organizations is Bethel Baptist Church. Despite its long-standing commitment to addressing community needs, the church was previously unrecognized as a DV service provider.

After receiving support from the DVAF, the church helps more survivors in their most challenging moments with emotional support and immediate needs of food, clothing, and shelter. But their work doesn’t end there. It continues with caseworkers guiding clients to potential employment and economic self-sufficiency, helping with resumes and workforce development.

According to Dana Collins, the church doesn’t advertise these services – it’s all word of mouth, from survivor to survivor.

"We have a waiting list," she said. "A lot of the survivors are coming back and volunteering."

This is the kind of coordinated, localized response we will need to reach survivors and assist them in meaningful ways.

HCDVCC is currently partnering with 19 organizations, widely dispersed throughout Harris County and with established relationships and trust in their communities, to provide lifesaving assistance to flexible funds. Harris County expects to serve more than 6,500 people though the fund; more than 600 families have accessed services so far in 2023.

Safety flourishes when communities thrive. It’s going to take all of us, tackling the issue from multiple directions, to provide necessary support for domestic violence survivors while reducing the chances they will experience it in the first place.

If you or someone you know is experiencing domestic violence, a personal safety plan may be the first step toward ending an abusive relationship. For more information, call HAWC’s 24-hour Hotline at 713-528-2121 or live chat through; or call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 800-799-7233.


Rodney Ellis