Sheriff Sally Hernandez said the county has participated in this program for the last 11 years and has helped donate over 40,000 handbags to women in Travis County and throughout the state.
“Unfortunately, family violence represents a large portion of the cases we investigate each year,” Hernandez said. “Last year we worked close to 2,300 family violence cases. Another unfortunate thing we know is many victims will return to their abusers several times before finally leaving for good. We want to make sure that women know how to get help when they are in dire situations.”
Each bag comes with a discreet tag that lists the organization’s toll-free legal line, 1-800-374-HOPE, a safety planning brochure with information on how to separate from a batterer, a checklist of what to take when you leave and an Allstate Foundation’s Financial Empowerment Planning Guide. The bags will be delivered to roughly 60 domestic violence and family crisis centers throughout the state by Mother’s Day.
“Last year, the [Texas Advocacy Project] served 5,096 clients, impacting the lives of nearly 13,000 women and their children. We know how critical access to legal services is in helping victims begin their journey of becoming a survivor,” said Heather Bellino, Executive Director of Texas Advocacy Project. “When victims call our legal line, it is often the first time they have ever spoken with an attorney to learn that they have rights and that they can get protection and safety. It is a life-altering moment. By placing The Project’s legal line inside the bags, victims will be armed with one of the strongest tools to break the cycle of violence – access to legal services.”
Through April 2, the sheriff’s office is accepting donations for gently used handbags at over 20 donation stations throughout the county, a number that is expected to grow, according to Texas Advocacy Project officials.