The Bridge’s services and programs are offered to help our clients heal mentally, emotionally, physically, and spiritually. Our philosophy focuses on empowering individuals and families to make healthy decisions that will lead productive lifestyles.
All services are offered, without being mandatory. Immediate crisis intervention and advocacy are available on a walk-in basis during our regular business hours (9am-4pm). Call the 24 Hour Hotline at (713) 473-2801 for more information and/or to schedule an after hours appointment.
- Permanent Supportive Housing with supportive services.
- Quality Housing Certified
- On site licensed and accredited childcare
- Rapid Re-housing-up to two years financial assistance with supportive services.
- Transitional housing program-up to two years financial assistance with supportive services.
WHAT IS SEXUAL ASSAULT?
Sexual Violence is any behavior of a sexual nature that is committed without consent. When individuals think of sexual violence our first thought is often of rape, but sexual violence consists of many more behaviors, attitudes, and beliefs. A few examples of sexual violence includes verbal violence, cat calling on the street, sending or receiving unwanted explicit photos, believing that physical affection is “owed” after a date, or unwanted touching. Call Jessica Bellant, our Education and Prevention Director to request a presentation or professional training concerning sexual violence.
If you are sexually assaulted:
- Get to a place where you will be safe from further attack. For your own protection, call 911 immediately, especially if the assailant is still nearby. The police will help you whether or not you choose to prosecute the assailant.
- Call a friend or family member for support.
- Get medical attention immediately. The primary purpose of a medical examination following a rape is to check for physical injury, the presence of sexually transmitted diseases or pregnancy as a result of the rape. The secondary purpose of a medical examination is to aid in the police investigation and legal proceedings.
- Don’t shower, bathe or douche. Showering, bathing or douching might be the first thing you want to do. However, you will literally wash away valuable evidence. Wait until a doctor has examined you.
- Save your clothing. It is all right to change clothes, but save what you were wearing. Your clothing could be used as evidence for prosecution. Place each item of clothing in a separate paper bag for the police.
- Report the incident to the police. It is up to you, but reporting a rape isn’t the same thing as prosecuting a rape. Prosecution can be determined later.
- The Bridge 24-Hour Hotline is 713-473-2801. Advocates are available to accompany you to the hospital 24 hours a day.
WHAT IS DOMESTIC VIOLENCE?
Domestic violence is behavior in which one person attempts to control another through threats or actual tactics.
IF YOU NEED HELP
Statistically, the most dangerous time for the abused person is when they are fleeing the violent situation.
TAKING STEPS TO LEAVE AN ABUSIVE RELATIONSHIP
- Contact your local crisis center to speak to an advocate; The Bridge’s 24 hour hotline is 713-473-2801
- Develop a safety plan by
- Putting away an emergency fund of cash
- Obtaining copies of documents such as
- Driver’s license
- Birth certificates for yourself and child(ren) if applicable
- Immunization records
- Pack a suitcase with basic clothing and hygiene needs for yourself and child(ren) that is easily accessible in an emergency
- Develop a code word for your family and friends to let them know you may be in danger
- Educate yourself about the legal system (i.e. protective orders, legal remedies for immigrants, etc.)
Domestic violence includes:
- pushing, throwing, kicking
- slapping, grabbing, hitting, punching, beating, tripping, poking, bruising, choking, shaking
- pinching, biting
- holding, restraining, confinement
- breaking bones
- assault with a weapon such as a knife or gun
Emotional (verbal or nonverbal) abuse
- threatening or intimidating to gain compliance
- destruction of the victim’s personal property and possessions, or threats to do so
- violence to an object (such as a wall or piece of furniture) or pet, in the presence of the intended victim, as a way of instilling fear of further violence
- yelling or screaming
- constant harassment
- embarrassing, making fun of, or mocking the victim, either alone within the household, in public, or in front of family or friends
- criticizing or diminishing the victim’s accomplishments or goals
- not trusting the victim’s decision making
- telling the victim that they are worthless without the abuser
- excessive possessiveness, isolation from friends and family
- excessive checking up on the victim to make sure they are at home or where the person told the abuser where the victim would be
- saying hurtful things while under the influence of drugs or alcohol, and using the substance as an excuse to say the hurtful things
- blaming the victim for how the abuser acts or feels
- making the victim remain on the premises after a fight, or leaving them somewhere else after a fight, just to “teach them a lesson”
- making the victim feel that there is no way out of the relationship
- Sexual assault: forcing someone to participate in unwanted, unsafe or degrading sexual activity.
- Coercion by threats and/or manipulation such as accusing the survivor of cheating or infidelity.
- Sexual harassment: ridiculing another person to try to limit their sexuality or reproductive choices
- Sexual exploitation (such as forcing someone to look at pornography, or forcing someone to participate in pornographic film-making)
- Withholds sex and affection as punishment
- Calls person offensive sexual names
- Engages in sexual relationships outside of the marriage or monogamous relationship
- Denies contraception or protection against a sexually transmitted infection
- repeated phone calls, hang-ups
- following, tracking (possibly even with a global positioning device)
- finding the person through public records, online searching or paid investigators
- watching with hidden cameras
- suddenly showing up where the victim is, at home, school or work
- sending emails; communicating in chat rooms or with instant messaging
- sending unwanted packages, cards, gifts or letters
- monitoring the victim’s phone calls or computer use
- contacting the victim’s friends, family, co-workers or neighbors to find out about the victim
- going through the victim’s garbage
- threatening to hurt the victim or their family, friends or pets
- damaging the victim’s home, car or other property
Economic or financial abuse
- withholding economic resources such as money or credit cards
- stealing from or defrauding a partner of money or assets
- exploiting the intimate partner’s resources for personal gain
- withholding physical resources such as food, clothes, necessary medications or shelter from a partner
- preventing the spouse or intimate partner from working or choosing an occupation
- using the spouse’s or intimate partner’s religious or spiritual beliefs to manipulate them
- preventing the partner from practicing their religious or spiritual beliefs
- ridiculing the other person’s religious or spiritual beliefs
- forcing the children to be reared in a faith that the partner has not agreed to
- Respect a person’s right to say “NO”
- Educate yourself and others on the issues
- Believe in equality
- Volunteer at your local domestic violence and/or rape crisis program
- Be aware of how violence is portrayed in the media
- Believe survivors
- Contact your legislators and political leaders
- Know the statistics
- Speak out against all forms of violence
- Stop yourself and others from ignoring sexual/domestic violence
The Education & Prevention Department
What We Do:
Our team provides professional trainings, community workshops, psycho-education groups, and facilitated discussions concerning domestic and sexual violence and how to prevent these forms of violence. All of the trainings, workshops and groups that we provide are free and tailored to the group requesting the workshop.
We provide a significant amount of our education and prevention programming to students in schools, as young as 5th grade.
If you are interested in requesting a workshop or training please complete the workshop request form.
Our Primary Prevention of Sexual & Domestic Violence Psycho-Educational Groups:
The Bridge Over Troubled Waters, Inc. is dedicated to not only educating the community about domestic and sexual violence, but we also strive to eliminate these forms of violence through primary prevention programming. The Bridge offers 7-10 weeks of psycho-educational groups to all young people ages 9-22 concerning the root causes of violence. Each of our groups are tailored to meet the age, needs, and interests of the students in the group. Topics of the group include community and trust building, defining healthy relationships, understanding boundaries, self-esteem, communication, gender socialization, media literacy, and bystander intervention. Please contact Jessica Bellant, Director of Education & Prevention for more information concerning our prevention programming.
For More Information Contact:
Jessica Bellant, Prevention & Education Director
Agency Overview/Welcome to The Bridge- .5 hr minimum
The purpose of this presentation is to provide individuals with an understanding of the comprehensive services we offer at The Bridge, and why our services are critical to the community. We share information concerning the prevalence of domestic and sexual violence and foundational points to understand how an individual could experience domestic violence. Opportunities for volunteering is also shared in order to continually engage community members who want to become active in the movement to end sexual and domestic violence.
Domestic Violence 101- 1 hour minimum
Domestic Violence 101 focuses on the prevalence and dynamics of intimate partner violence. Participants will gain a greater understanding of the tactics used by abusers to gain and maintain power and control over their partner and reasons why survivors often stay or return to their abuser. The goal of the training is to equip participants with the knowledge to recognize domestic violence and further understand the survivor’s perspective.
Sexual Violence 101- 1 hour minimum
Sexual Violence 101 focuses on examining the attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors that comprise the sexual violence continuum, the comprehensive definition of consent, and common myths concerning sexual assault. Child sexual abuse, sexual harassment and intimate partner violence is all highlighted within this training. The goal of this interactive training is to provide participants with foundational knowledge concerning the dynamics of sexual violence in order to recognize instances of sexual violence, effectively assist survivors of sexual violence and dispel common myths that perpetuate the rape culture we live in.
Primary Prevention of Sexual and Domestic Violence- 1 hour minimum
In this interactive training, our topic is introduced through a powerful activity each individual can relate to concerning gender socialization. This topic is highlighted at the beginning of the training because it is a root cause of sexual violence that connects participants with a fundamental understanding of primary prevention of sexual violence. We continue our conversation with an examination of the four levels of primary prevention, the risk and protective factors of sexual violence, and rape culture. The goal of this training is to provide participants a comprehensive understanding of primary prevention of sexual violence and how they can begin preventing sexual violence in their professional and personal lives.
Healthy Relationships- .75 hr. minimum
This interactive presentation focuses on identifying the 4 pillars of a healthy relationship to assist individuals in preventing or identifying potentially abusive relationships. Individuals are encouraged to consider their current and past relationships which may include romantic, platonic, familial, and/or relationships in the workplace. The topics of boundaries, equality, healthy communication, and self-esteem will be focuses of this presentation.
Teen Dating Violence- .75 hr. minimum
This presentation focuses on the teen power and control wheel, examining the unique ways that teens experience domestic violence. In addition to understanding what constitutes teen dating violence we also discuss how individuals can support peers or loved ones who they know or believe may be experiencing an abusive relationship. Depending on the age and role of the audience, brief legal remedies and safety planning details may be discussed as well.
Stalking & Legal Remedies- .75 hr. minimum
In this training we dive into the elements of stalking, stalking behaviors and the legal remedies available to victims. Key components of safety planning and steps necessary to pursue legal remedies will be highlighted. An interactive activity will be conducted to place individuals in the shoes of a victim to enhance understanding of potential barriers and steps to be taken when an individual experiences this form of violence.
Gender Socialization- .75 hr. minimum
This presentation examines the strict and harmful gender expectations that are placed on both girls and boys/women and men within our society and how this socialization directly contributes to sexual and domestic violence. We use a powerful and interactive activity to engage individuals in this conversation. A follow up presentation can also be provided by examining pieces of media that promote the strict gender expectations that are discussed in Part 1.
Additional Professional Trainings Include:
- Human Trafficking
- Trauma Informed Care
- How Domestic Violence Affects Children
To schedule a presentation, please visit: Workshops and Trainings
All workshops can be adjusted for virtual presentations.
Who We Are
The Children’s Program provides a holistic approach of trauma informed services to all families participating in our programs. These programs include: Emergency Shelter, Permanent Housing/Rapid Re-Housing and Non-Residential clients. The Children’s program creates a safe place for children to heal and grow. Our services encompass two licensed(?) NAEYC accredited childcare learning centers staffed with fourteen Child Development Associate Teachers. Working collaboratively with the teachers are four Child Advocates, a Youth Specialist, and two Parenting Educator to support all families with children ages zero through eighteen years of age.
All children within our program receive the following services:
- An initial Trauma focused children’s assessment- that focus on their strengths, needs and exposure to trauma to develop an effective service plan.
- Clothing or shoes if available
- One-on-One meetings
- Welcome and Birthday presents
- Coordinate recreational and community service activities.
Parents receive a trauma focused family assessment and they are offered parenting classes and free childcare.
Advocates also act as liaison between the parents and various organizations such as Pasadena ISD, CPS, ECI, and others.
The Advocates provide school advocacy to all school age children within our agency. Each of the Advocates have been trained by the Texas Homeless Education Office to inform each parent of the McKinney-Vento Act, and to offer support to each school we work with. With the help of school administrators, Advocates help coordinate uniform assistance, supply assistance, transportation assistance, and educational advocacy.
Our support groups utilizes a trauma sensitive approach centered around the effects of trauma. Groups are provided weekly to all children in our programs. The groups are broken up by ages ranging from two years to eighteen years old. The group discussion topics consist of: safety, effective communication, healthy relationships, healthy boundaries, self– esteem, coping skills, identification of emotions, empathy building (caring for animals), and self-regulation techniques (expressive dance, yoga, Brazilian Jiu jitsu, boxing, art expression, and so on).
Develops individual service plans by assessing children’s development, temperament, coping skills, medical needs, and available support services using independent discretion and utilizing CANS Assessment.
Provides services to minors with extensive exposure to trauma residing in our emergency residential shelter, Permanent supportive housing, and non-residential program by providing psycho-educational sessions, life skills, peer counseling and trauma informed support groups.
Just as every child is different, every family has different needs. The Bridge offers Parenting classes as well as One on One Parenting sessions with our Parent Educator. Parenting classes are centered on a reflective parenting approach. Parents who are struggling with their daily lives, or having difficulties understanding certain aspects of child rearing can benefit from the preventative aspect of a parenting educational program. Parenting classes can help parents gain the problem solving techniques that are necessary to deal with situations that they might face in a healthy way.
Advocacy Services including but not limited to:
- Mobile advocacy
- Crisis intervention
- Case management: including children/youth
- Safety planning
- Accompaniments: court, hospital, other medical, police, etc.
- Assistance with applying for Crime Victims’ Compensation, Address Confidentiality Program, Impact Statements, and mainstream services, i.e., SSI, SSDI, SNAP, child support, etc.
- Information and referrals
- Financial literacy
- Support group: CPS approved parenting and domestic violence education, sexual assault and teens
- Therapy including support groups-Closed and Open-please call hotline for more information
- Childcare available for adults attending support groups and or case management, therapy sessions
- On site forensic collection for victims of domestic violence and sexual assault: SANE
- Housing assessments via Coordinated Entry
The Bridge Over Troubled Waters recognizes that domestic and sexual violence can have a significant and long-lasting impact on survivors. The therapy department is here to help you understand what has happened to you, how it has affected you and how to heal. Our goal is to walk alongside you as you pursue your mental health goals.
- Play therapy for children
- Individual therapy for teens and adults
- Family therapy
- Support groups
The therapy team is diverse to meet the needs of our clients:
- Staff therapists are licensed in the state of Texas
- All services are offered in Spanish and English
- Specialized services to treat special populations such as chemical dependency and play therapy
- Many of our therapists are trained in advanced, evidence based, trauma techniques, such as Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) and Cognitive Processing Therapy (CPT)
- We also train student and newly licensed volunteer therapists.
How to File for Social Security Disability Benefits If You’re Homeless
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) defines a person as homeless if he or she “lacks a fixed, regular, and adequate nighttime residence”. This includes anyone living in shelter regardless of the reason you are living in a shelter. It’s very stressful when you’re sick and unable to work, and that stress is even greater if you’re experiencing homelessness because you can’t work. But if you can’t work because of a medical condition you can file a claim for Social Security disability benefits. The money that you get from Social Security disability benefits can be used for any living expenses, including housing and food. If you have worked in the past, paid taxes, and you expect that you won’t be able to work for at least a year because of your medical condition you can file a claim for Social Security disability benefits. It can be a little tougher to file when you don’t have a permanent address but it’s still possible.
Filing For Disability Benefits
Many people who are temporarily experiencing homelessness don’t realize that you don’t need a permanent address to file for disability benefits. You will need a way for the Social Security Administration to be able to contact you but you can ask a friend or family member if you can receive mail at their address, or you can set up a P.O. box at any office services store or any post office branch for a low cost. If you are staying in temporary housing, you can ask if you can use that address as a mailing address as well.
You can file the claim for Social Security disability benefits online anywhere that you can access the Internet. That means you can file on your smartphone, or on a shared computer that has WIFI in your temporary housing. You can also access the SSA’s website to file a claim from any public computer in a library, church office, or community center. Cyber cafes also offer computer access with WIFI for small fee. If you can’t access a computer, you can make an appointment at any SSA branch office and a staff member there will help you fill out the claim paperwork and file a claim for benefits.
Getting Medical Records
You will need copies of your medical records and documentation of your illness or condition to file a disability benefits claim. If you are currently being treated, you can ask your doctor for a copy of all of your medical records and submit those with your claim. Or you can ask the doctor’s staff to fax those records directly to the SSA. It’s a little trickier to get your past medical records from other hospitals or doctors but it’s still possible. You can call to request a copy of your records and have them sent to a friend or family member or have them sent to your temporary housing address or P.O. box. Those hospitals may also be able to fax records directly to the SSA if you ask them.
How Victims of Domestic Violence Can Qualify for Disability Benefits
Victims of domestic violence can feel longtime effects from the abuse that they have had to endure, including physical, emotional and mental abuse. Some of those effects can be long term, such as the mental health conditions that unfortunately come with domestic violence. If you are a victim of domestic violence, and the mental health effects from it make it impossible for you to work full-time, then you may be able to qualify for Social Security disability benefits. Common mental health conditions that are related to domestic violence include PTSD, depression and anxiety. In order to qualify, you need to see if your symptoms match with any of the conditions listed in the SSA’s Blue Book. Which is the listing of all the conditions that could qualify for disability benefits. For example, if you are experiencing symptoms of PTSD that force you to be unable to work for at least 12 months, you need medical documentation of all the following:
- Exposure to actual or threatened death, serious injury, or violence;
- Subsequent involuntary re-experiencing of the traumatic event (for example, intrusive memories, dreams, or flashbacks);
- Avoidance of external reminders of the event;
- Disturbance in mood and behavior; and
- Increases in arousal and reactivity (for example, exaggerated startle response, sleep disturbance).
And Extreme limitation of one, or marked limitation of two, of the following areas of mental functioning:
- Understand, remember, or apply information
- Interact with others
- Concentrate, persist, or maintain pace
- Adapt or manage oneself
Receiving Your Disability Benefits
You don’t need a checking account in order to access your disability benefits once they are awarded. If you do have a checking account, the benefits will be deposited directly into your account once a month. But you can also sign up for a Direct Express card when you file for disability benefits. This card is just like a regular credit and has a Mastercard logo so you can use it anywhere that Mastercard is accepted like a credit card. The SSA will deposit your benefits directly onto the card and you can use it right away. If you want to use the Direct Express card to get your benefits look for the application when you file your claim online or ask the SSA staff member helping you file to help you fill out the paperwork for the Direct Express card when you file your disability claim.
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