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Free domestic violence legal aid in Grimes County

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HOUSTON– AVDA (Aid to Victims of Domestic Abuse) announces the expansion of its free legal aid and emergency funding for victims of domestic violence into Austin, Grimes, Waller and Washington counties, made possible by funding from the Texas Access to Justice Foundation. As an agency new to the region, AVDA is partnering with Focusing Families, a nonprofit crisis center committed to eliminating family violence and sexual assault, and United Way of Greater Houston — Waller County Center to expand its reach into these counties as quickly as possible to help victims transform their lives.

For the past 39 years in Harris County, AVDA has provided free legal representation for protective orders and divorce, child custody, child support, and adoption cases for victims of domestic violence. Two years ago, AVDA expanded its Legal Advocacy Program footprint to include Fort Bend County with offices at the United Way of Greater Houston — Fort Bend County Center in Stafford.

In response to the need in rural counties west of Houston, AVDA’s legal team of Managing Attorney Peter F. Walbridge Jr. and bilingual Paralegal Vicky Owor began serving clients living in Austin, Grimes, Waller and Washington counties in November.

“Domestic violence is a public health crisis in this country. Statistically, one in four women experience family violence in their lifetime, so as any one population grows, the number of incidents of domestic violence in that community also increases,” states AVDA CEO Maisha Colter.

“Unfortunately, as Houston’s population grows and expands further and further west,” continues Colter, “the rural counties of Austin, Grimes, Waller and Washington are experiencing a greater incidence of domestic violence. As an agency known for the caliber of its trauma-informed legal services, we are excited to represent survivors in a region where those services are not readily available.”

AVDA’s mission is to end family violence by advocating for the safety and self-determination of victims, promoting accountability for abusers and fostering a community response to abuse. Since its founding in 1980, AVDA has provided free advocacy, safety planning and legal representation for more than 100,000 survivors. A United Way of Greater Houston agency, AVDA now provides free legal representation and emergency funding to victims of domestic abuse in Austin, Grimes, Fort Bend, Harris, Waller and Washington counties and free trauma counseling in Harris County. AVDA is also in schools and detention centers across the region with its youth abuse prevention programming.

Victims in Austin, Grimes, Waller and Washington counties may call (979) 826-3290, ext. 219 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, or request help online at https://avda-tx.org/victim-advocacy-pre- registration/.

AVDA’s partners providing referrals include the County District Attorney’s Offices of Austin, Grimes, Waller and Washington counties; Focusing Families, and United Way of Greater Houston — Waller County Center.

For more information, visit www.avda.org.