By Heather Regula, Correspondent
The Texas Legal Services Center (TLSC) provides free legal representation, legal advice, and information. Individuals can qualify for free services based on income, or by meeting other requirements.
Erin Martinson, formerly the Chief of the Protective Order Division at the Travis County Attorney’s Office, has been managing the Crime Victims Programs at Texas Legal Services Center for one year.
“Our program includes a legal hotline for survivors of sexual assault and several litigation attorneys. All of our attorneys are available to assist victims of violent crime with legal issues related to their victimization. We frequently file protective orders for victims of domestic violence, sexual assault and stalking in jurisdictions where prosecutors refuse to help,” explained Martinson. “We are also available to help with landlord-tenant matters, employment law issues, educational issues, family law matters and navigating the criminal justice system.”
TLSC was created in 1977 and has served the public, in a multitude of roles, over the years. The dedicated professionals have passionately advocated for the people they serve.
“Victims of crime, especially victims of domestic violence and sexual assault, may be hesitant to make a police report. Our attorneys are available to explain legal options, such as protective orders, to help victims obtain safety and stability after an incident,” stated Martinson. “We can assist victims with their civil legal matters, help connect them with resources, and provide support after a traumatic event.”
Many of us grew up playing outside from sunup to sundown, with the streetlights coming on and serving as the universal sign to go home. Unfortunately, for the most part, those days are gone, and we live in a world where survival requires constant awareness. In 2015, 158 women died at the hands of their partner.
“It is important for people to understand that leaving an abusive relationship is dangerous and complicated. Victims of domestic violence will leave when it is safe for them to do so and family members and friends should be patient and understanding throughout the process,” explained Martinson. “If friends, family members or co-workers notice that someone they care about seems isolated, is missing school or work a lot, has unexplained injuries or bruising, or is otherwise not themselves, its possible they are being abused by their partner.”
Persons in need can call the toll free hotline (888)343-4414, or visit the website www.tlsc.org, for more information or to apply for services. TLSC services are free of charge, and all conversations are confidential. The TLSC team is always ready to help when and where they can.