News Release

Texas Access to Justice Foundation 
April 16, 2020

Legal Aid for Survivors of Sexual Assault Essential and Readily Available During COVID-19 Pandemic

AUSTIN, Texas––  During this year's Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month, survivors are facing unique challenges because of increased isolation, increased exposure to violence, and confusion around available assistance. The unprecedented circumstances make the work of the Legal Aid for Survivors of Sexual Assault (LASSA) network even more critical to support the safety, healing, and resilience of survivors.

Many survivors are experiencing increased isolation and safety concerns. Some are separated from their support networks due to shelter in place and physical distancing requirements or recommendations. "We know that sexual violence can cause economic and health insecurity," said Kate Meals, Managing Attorney of the LASSA Program at Texas Legal Services Center. "Many individuals who were experiencing these concerns are now facing additional challenges."

Free legal help is available to assist with legal issues stemming from sexual assault—issues like privacy, safety, housing, family law, immigration, medical/mental health services, and sexual violence in the workplace or educational institution. One phone number—844-303-SAFE (7233)—connects survivors with the network of nine legal aid organizations. Callers may remain anonymous and may still call even if they have not reported the assault to law enforcement.

LASSA Statewide Hotline
844-303-SAFE (7233), Option 1
Monday — Friday | 9:00 AM - 7:00 PM

"During these times of uncertainty, programs like LASSA are a vital lifeline for clients," said Betty Balli Torres, Executive Director of the Texas Access to Justice Foundation. "However, resources for this work were inadequate to address the needs before the exponential loss of resources brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic." An Emergency Legal Aid Fund has been started to help those facing legal issues in the wake of the pandemic, at:

The LASSA Network
Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston Cabrini Center for Immigrant Legal Assistance, Catholic Charities of Dallas, Equal Justice Center, Legal Aid of NorthWest Texas, Lone Star Legal Aid, Tahirih Justice Center, Texas Advocacy Project, Texas Legal Services Center, and Texas RioGrande Legal Aid. The Texas Access to Justice Foundation established the Legal Aid for Survivors of Sexual Assault Network in 2015.

The Texas Access to Justice Foundation (, created by the Supreme Court of Texas in 1984, is the leading 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 Foundation 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.

Kimberly Schmitt
512-320-0099, ext. 104


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