Wednesday, May 11, 2005

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Attorney General Abbott Highlights Protective Order Kit For Domestic Violence Victims

EDINBURG – Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott today joined Texas Supreme Court Justice Harriet O’Neill and the Texas Equal Access to Justice Foundation (TEAJ) in unveiling a new kit that will enable victims of domestic violence to better access the court system by filing their own applications for protective orders.

The self-help protective order kit, created by a Texas Supreme Court task force, will make it possible for victims to better access the legal system so they can protect themselves and their children, including compelling the abuser to leave the home, if necessary. Attorney General Abbott also assisted TEAJ in developing a Spanish-language version of the kits.

Media links
Protective Order Kit (English)
Protective Order Kit (Spanish)
Audio Clip 1: Importance of Protective Order Kit
Audio Clip 2: Empowering Domestic Violence Survivors
Audio Clip 3: Where to Find the Kit

“Domestic violence has reached alarming levels in Texas, and often victims are too frightened or too financially strapped to get the help they need,” Attorney General Abbott said. “This kit addresses both of those problems by empowering victims to file their own court papers and get out of danger as quickly as possible.”

The free, step-by-step protective order kit comes with detailed instructions for filling out the paperwork, having a temporary order signed by a judge and requesting a hearing date to grant the protective order. The kit also provides tips for victims on how to prepare for the hearing.

The protective order kit can be accessed at the Attorney General’s Web site (www.texasattorneygeneral.gov). Materials will also be available through law enforcement agencies, domestic violence shelters and hospital emergency rooms.

Abbott emphasized: “It’s always best if a victim can seek the help of their county or district attorney or a private attorney in obtaining a protective order. But that’s not always possible, and this kit will help victims of domestic violence who feel they have nowhere else to turn.”

At a news conference to announce the kits, Attorney General Abbott and the other participants were joined by Lorena Lopez, a survivor of domestic violence. Ms. Lopez sought a protective order in May 2002 because her husband had begun to sexually and physically abuse her. The two subsequently got divorced, but the violence escalated when he broke down her door with an ax one day and tried to kill her. Their 10-year-old son helped save her life by seeking help from police. The man went to prison for attempted murder and repeated violations of his protective order.

Ms. Lopez, who only speaks Spanish, said having a protective order helped ensure her future safety by helping put her ex-husband behind bars. She agreed with Attorney General Abbott that having a protective order kit in Spanish makes it possible for people like herself to get the help they need.

The Attorney General’s Crime Victim Services Division serves victims of crime by administering the Crime Victims’ Compensation Fund and related grants, as well as offering training and outreach programs. Last year, the Attorney General provided almost $73 million from the Fund to help many of these victims shoulder medical and other expenses related to the crimes committed against them.

The Attorney General also provides $2.5 million annually to the Texas Equal Access to Justice Foundation to help provide civil legal aid to victims of crime.

More than 185,000 incidents of domestic violence were reported in Texas in 2003.

More information about the Attorney General’s Crime Victim Services Division is available at the Attorney General’s Web site: www.texasattorneygeneral.gov.