The Texas Access to Justice Foundation reported an influx of domestic violence and sexual assault is unfortunately common during the holiday season.
A representative with the Legal Aid of Northwest Texas office — based in Waxahachie — agreed with that statement.
Kathy Joubert, the admin secretary with Legal Aid in Waxahachie, shared that domestic violence is common in marriages, divorce action and custody battles.
“Usually, if there is domestic violence, and that person has documented, called the police and have done everything to show a pattern of that, the DA is very good in setting up a protective order," Joubert affirmed.
Joubert noted even a temporary order could be filed in little time before a permanent two-year protective service goes into effect.
TAJF stated in a press release that the cause of the influx is due to high levels of stress, financial hardships, domestic disputes and an increase in alcohol consumption.
“For most, the holiday season is a time of joy and family gatherings,” Texas Supreme Court Justice Eva Guzman stated in the press release. “But for many Texas families, the holidays can be the most stressful time of the year.”
The release also noted the services provided would aid a person in the process of a divorce as well as custody battles. Individuals with a low household income could also qualify for free services. Legal Aid is a nonprofit organization that provides free legal services to low-income residents in 114 counties and has operated in Waxahachie since the late 1990s.
Every year, TAJF provides grants to nearly 40 nonprofit organizations throughout the state to provide free legal services to approximately 40,000 victims of domestic violence and sexual assault.
The release also detailed the story of one client helped by these organizations.
Shannon*, a veteran and mother of two, had been with her husband for nine years. One day a domestic dispute resulted in the husband throwing an object at Shannon that then hit their six-month-old son.
Shannon knew she needed to seek legal help to protect herself and family. She received free legal representation from a foundation grantee to ensure safety.
TAJF funds the Legal Aid for Survivors of Sexual Assault hotline to provide survivors with a statewide network of legal advocates who can help provide free legal assistance.
“Victims of domestic violence and sexual assault are not alone and do not have to spend the holidays in fear,” Guzman said. “Help is just a phone call away, today and every day.”
The Texas Access to Justice Foundation was created by the Supreme Court of Texas in 1984 and is the largest state-based funding source for the provision of civil legal aid in Texas.
The organization is committed to the vision that all Texans will have equal access to justice, regardless of their income. The TAJF administers a variety of funding sources, which are earmarked to assist nonprofit organizations in providing legal aid to more than 150,000 Texas families each year.
For more information, on TAJF visit www.teajf.org. The Legal Aid office is located at 110 E. Main St. in downtown Waxahachie. Its office is open from 8 a.m. — 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. The staff can be reached at 972-923-3344.
*Name changed to protect privacy