Since April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month, Lone Star Legal Aid wants to educate the community on how sexual assault crimes have become more prevalent than ever before. Now is the time to educate others on how to create safe online spaces. As people engage online, we can all learn about digital consent and how to intervene if we observe red flags. This can happen in the workplace, classrooms, or on social media.
People have been experiencing extreme stress and isolation since the beginning of the global health pandemic. Movement restrictions and other orders put in place have created a rise in pandemic violence. Restrictive measures have also caused a specific increase in sexual assault and other violent crimes due to fear and uncertainty.
Abusive online behaviors are happening all the time, all around us. These behaviors include harassment, ignoring consent, words of sexual nature, sending unsolicited images, and bullying. Violence initiated online can be as traumatizing as it is in person.
Evidence has shown there is a link between crisis and crime. Factors contributing to crime are changes in the economy, financial problems, job stress or job loss, social isolation, loss of loved ones, forced living situations, and the inability to find shelter or obtain other survival necessities.
Community service providers have noted a rise in pandemic violence, specifically domestic violence and sexual violence during the pandemic. Since the uptick, there has been a surge in calls to help lines. The COVID-19 pandemic has encouraged support hotlines, shelters, law enforcement, and nonprofit organizations to change features that are more adaptable to people’s needs like escaping violent circumstances, reporting, and providing advice.
Lone Star Legal Aid’s Legal Aid to Survivors of Sexual Assault Unit provides free legal help to survivors with low incomes. Survivors of violence or those at risk may be unaware of their civil legal options. If you have survived sexual violence, these are some examples of possible legal needs:
- Personal safety at home, work or school
- Applying for a protective order
- Filing for divorce or custody of your children
- Transferring to a different school
- Keeping medical, mental health, and education records private
- Terminating a lease or fighting an eviction
- Applying for unemployment benefits, food stamps, Medicaid, or Social Security disability
- Applying for crime victim compensation
- Fighting payday loans, hospital bills or other creditors
- Fighting identity theft
If you or a loved one require assistance, you can apply for free legal services by calling 1-800-733-8394 or by visiting our website at http://www.lonestarlegal.org.
For more resources, visit the Texas Crime Victim Legal Assistance Network.
Lone Star Legal Aid is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit law firm focused on advocacy on behalf of low-income and underserved populations. Lone Star Legal Aid serves the millions of people at 125% of federal poverty guidelines that reside in 72 counties in the eastern and Gulf Coast regions of Texas, and 4 counties of southwest Arkansas. Lone Star Legal Aid focuses its resources on maintaining, enhancing, and protecting income and economic stability; preserving housing; improving outcomes for children; establishing and sustaining family safety and stability, health and well‐being; and assisting populations with special vulnerabilities, like those who have disabilities, or who are elderly, homeless, or have limited English language skills. To learn more about Lone Star Legal Aid, visit our website at www.lonestarlegal.org
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