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Advocacy group providing resources for domestic violence survivors in Central Texas

Some Central Texans are relying on vital resources to help with domestic violence.

AUSTIN, Texas —

For survivors of domestic violence in Central Texas, there are many resources available for whatever they might need. 

One of the biggest hurdles for a survivor to escape an abuser can be legal assistance, and the Texas Advocacy Project (TAP) is providing the tools that survivors will need.

The organization helps survivors of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, stalking, child abuse and human trafficking. TAP provides free legal services for a someone needing to get to long-term safety, including protective orders, divorce papers and custody agreements.

"You cannot put a price on anything like that. I owe my life to the Texas Advocacy Project,” said Tina Carloni, a survivor. 

Carloni said the father of her son got violent one night and almost strangled her to death.  

“He almost killed me. He went to jail and then his family bailed them out. He also, in the process, sued me for custody of my son," Carloni said. 

When the time came for the first hearing, Carloni was staying in a shelter without any legal representation or a cell phone. The Austin Police Department's Victim Services contacted TAP on behalf of Carloni and was able to send someone to help. 

“It was what saved me. And, in a way, it, like, jumpstarted my ability to heal from what had happened to me," Carloni stated.

With TAP by Carloni's side throughout her entire legal fight, she received full custody and a lifetime protective order from her son's father. 

“The biggest struggle about the trauma that I went through was that there wasn't anyone that believed me," explained Carloni.

The advocates at TAP not only believed Carloni, but gave her an award for her courage. 

"To have a hand coming from the community to say, 'We hear you, we believe you, we see you, and we want to support you and all of your needs so that you may get safety, so that your children can be safe and so that you can be heard,'” said TAP CEO Heather Bellino. 

Bellino said that TAP has services that are statewide and work with different resources to be a safety blanket over survivors, regardless of their location in Texas.

"It's very important that we all work together. It's very important that at any access point a survivor first gets to that we all kind of sound the alarm and make sure that we have the resources available and that we're all working together to get people to safety that they deserve," Bellino said. 

Carloni now shares her story to help change the system to better protect survivors. After bringing her fight to the State Capitol, Carloni was able to help get a law passed. This law now requires law enforcement officers to take training that identifies signs of strangulation. 

Now, all members of law enforcement across the State of Texas are required to take the training that Carloni said saved her life. 

Those in need of assistance from TAP can call their hotline at 800-374-HOPE.

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