Coming Together to Serve Survivors of Sexual Assault
Legal Aid for Survivors of Sexual Assault (LASSA) is a statewide network specifically designed to support survivors of sexual assault. Texas Legal Services Center hosts the statewide helpline (844-303-SAFE) and is joined by eight additional legal aid organizations to carry out LASSA's goal.
Goal: Empowering Survivors
The network empowers survivors by providing accessible, trauma-informed legal services. This starts by meeting our clients where they are and being prepared to listen and hold space for them. Some of our clients are reaching out and telling their stories for the first time. Some have experienced re-traumatization when they have attempted to seek assistance from law enforcement or service providers. Some have lost their homes, jobs, families, and their sense of personal safety.
LASSA was designed to be a survivor-centered program. We provide clients with information about their legal rights and options so that they can choose how to proceed in a way that feels affirming and right for them.
How the Helpline Works
All LASSA calls are answered by attorneys to minimize the number of times a caller has to tell their story. Callers have the option to remain anonymous. Our attorneys walk each survivor through a comprehensive and holistic intake, allowing the client to set the pace. Often, callers don't know what legal assistance is available to them. Knowing that, we designed our intake process to identify which issues stemming from the sexual violence could have legal remedies.
We assist with a wide range of issues such as safety, privacy, protective orders, housing, employment, immigration, education, divorce, custody, crime victims' compensation, and navigating the criminal justice system as a survivor. After we conduct the intake, we discuss legal options and rights. We provide legal advice, and, at the client's request, conduct services such as contacting law enforcement to determine the status of the criminal investigation or writing a letter to a landlord to help a client terminate a lease. If the client is in need of more extensive services or it makes sense for us to refer outside of Texas Legal Services Center, we make a referral to the appropriate network partner through a warm handoff. We also conduct safety planning with clients and can connect them with supportive services such as crisis centers, shelters, mental health support, and food assistance. Initial phone calls typically last 60-90 minutes.
Our Network Partners
Our network partners are wonderful—some assist with specific issues such as employment (Equal Justice Center) or immigration (Cabrini Center for Immigrant Legal Assistance, Catholic Charities of Dallas, Tahirih Justice Center). Others are regional legal aid providers (Texas RioGrande Legal Aid, Lone Star Legal Aid, Legal Aid of NorthWest Texas). Another partner, Texas Advocacy Project, offers statewide services and is a great referral when another network partner may be unable to accept the case or when a client would do well in an assisted pro se situation. The volume of survivors reaching out for help required that we all come together with a unified approach to best serve our clients.
Legal Aid for Survivors of Sexual Assault - Statewide Helpline
Monday — Friday | 9:00 AM - 7:00 PM