Collecting purses to help domestic violence victims

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AUSTIN (KXAN) – A basic handbag could help save a woman’s life.

The Texas Advocacy Project and Travis County Sheriff’s Office launched the 2016 Handbags for Hope Campaign Wednesday. The group is asking for donations of new or gently used handbags. The handbags will have vital legal hotline information (1-800-374-HOPE) discretely stitched into the bag’s lining to help victims of domestic violence.

“The abuser is not going to know what exactly that label is,” says Candace Lambert, a board member at the Texas Advocacy Project. “She’s going to go multiple times back into the home before she leaves for good. It’s more of an empowerment carrying it around knowing you have that number.”

That number is the reason Hailey Solis, 15, is no longer living in fear. She said a close friend tried to force her to date him when they were both eighth graders at the same school.

“He just hit me, and I didn’t know what to say,” said Solis. “I was so scared I didn’t want to tell anybody so I didn’t. It went on for a while until one of my friends saw the bruise.”

That friend told Hailey’s principal and police. The abuser was arrested, but when Hailey got to high school he was back.

That’s when a counselor suggested reaching out to the Texas Advocacy Project.

“Before I knew it he was out of my school, and he can’t even be near me anymore which makes me really happy,” said Hailey.

The Handbags for Hope drive runs through March 31. After that date, the bags will be delivered to shelters across Texas. Handbags can be dropped off at the Travis County Sheriff’s Office at 5555 Airport Blvd, Austin. Additional drop-off locations include Health Markets, Austin Marriott North at Round Rock and the offices of several Allstate agents.

For a complete list, visit the Texas Advocacy Project.

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