"When it happened, I wasn’t expecting it. I met him at a party, during the holidays. He was handsome and I felt greatly attracted towards him. He seemed a nice person, but, that same night, the lamb became a wolf. We had gone to the viewpoint, looking for a good time by the sea, hiding in the night, waiting for the moon to enhance further our rendezvous. Romantic, isn’t it? I was wrong.
For a long time, I blamed myself for believing that that night would mean starting a special relationship with someone special (something I wished for a long time, having had enough of failed relationships). I was wrong, because, at the beginning, we hugged, kissed, but soon everything went wrong.
Everything happened in a flash – I told him I wanted to stop. He called me everything, said it was what I wanted, that I was asking for it since the first moment I laid my eyes on him at the party. I was terrified and today I want to forget what happened next, but I can’t. After using me like an object, he threw me out of the car. I walked for three or four kilometres in a poor state. I managed to knock at a colleague’s door, with whom I was not even friends with, although I trusted her. We went to the hospital and I pulled the courage to make a complaint. He would have to face, at least, the shame of being accused of the crime he had committed. I was tested. I was afraid of having caught HIV or being pregnant.
I have been receiving support for a few months. I still have nightmares. I cannot stand red chequered shirts (like the one he had that night) or cars of that make, and, most of all, I am afraid to meet him. The support I received from my colleague, who is now my best friend, and that of my parents, has been fundamental. My psychologist at APAV helps me to understand that what happened that night was not my fault, to recover my self-esteem and to believe that I will be able to overcome this problem. It is still early days, but I need to keep on fighting. I didn’t realize waiting was so tough for a victim. But I wait with help from those that know how to help. Thank you very much for your support."
Susana N., 19 years old
"I came to Portugal to be able to help my family in Brazil. I left my three year old son and my wife there. Thanks to some friends and to speaking Portuguese, my adaptation was easier. After a year of work, I felt I was in a brother country, where people spoke the same language I did, and with whom I shared a common past. I started sending some money to my wife, but then we split. I met a new partner here.
For our new house, I went to a well-known furniture shop to fill in the form for requesting the shop card. With it we would be able to benefit from a kitchen promotion that I could pay in twelve instalments with no interest. To request the card, I had to fill in a credit proposal and submit it along with photocopies of the following documents: ID card, taxpayer card, bank account number, proof of address and proof of income.
Being a Brazilian national, I had no ID card, thus I replaced that with my Residence Permit. At the end of the same month, I received a phone call from the bank informing me that they had refused my credit request. According to the lady, the decision was due to the fact that the Residence Permit was only valid for two years.
I went to UAVIDRE-APAV (Support Unit for Migrant Victims of Crime and Victims of Discrimination) as recommended by some friends. They prepared a letter that was sent to the bank. It noted the bank’s reply, given over the phone, and highlighted that all necessary requirements for the provision of credit had been fulfilled.
The bank replied to the letter saying it could not provide the requested loan without mentioning an objective reason. UAVIDRE, with my authorisation, helped me writing a complaint that I signed and sent to ACIME.
The complaint highlighted the following facts:
- that all requirements for the provision of credit demanded by the credit institution had been fulfilled. Additionally, I had a higher net income than required and I had a stable employment situation;
- the only reason for the refusal mentioned (on the phone) was the two years Residence Permit (despite the credit payment being twelve months);
- the only people having Residence Permits are non Portuguese citizens.
After being helped with the complaint, I went back to UAVIDRE with a letter of the credit institution saying again that they were not able to provide the credit. However, it didn’t mention any reason for the refusal. It is evident that I am fighting an absurd situation of discrimination. Fortunately, I am not alone."
Jefferson, 31 years old
"I am in a difficult situation. At my age and with my health problems it is only expected that I am in this situation. I never got along well with my daughter, particularly because I never agreed with her marriage. I am not sure if I interfered too much, I am not sure if I caused any harm. The years went by and the problems happened in succession. I raised her on my own, on a low income and many difficulties. The times were different. I had to maintain respect because I did not want her to be an easy woman. Her marriage did not work out. It could have never worked out - I saw it straight away. She blames me constantly for being frustrated. I think that if she had worked harder, as I did, she would not have been a frustrated woman just because her husband swapped her for another.
I am in a situation of extreme poverty because all the money I have is to help paying for my daughter’s mortgage. On top of this, she has sold my gold and a watch that belonged to her dad. Some of the silver is also gone. Better lose the saddle than the horse, say the people. But in my case, I fear for my physical integrity. It is not the first time that she hits me … And she also locks me in the bedroom when she does not want me to be seen by the boyfriends she brings home.
The problem is that I love my daughter, like any mother loves her children. I cannot figure out where did I go wrong with her education to deserve this … I recently asked for support and I have yet to decide on what to do. But I know that I can do something; that I can decide on what I want and on my belongings. My daughter cannot do this to me just because I am old.
Deolinda, 75 years old
"They have killed my beloved son, the only one I had. That day, my life was over and I also wanted to die. There is nothing more terrible than the death of a child, particularly when someone kills him with no mercy. It was a robbery - those scoundrels could have taken everything I had but not my greatest treasure. I don’t know if I will ever recover. Every night I dream about my son, I visit his grave every week. I wait anxiously for justice to condemn the killers. It is the least they can do, since my son will not come back to life. He was only twenty-two, a life ahead of him. They killed him for a stupid gold chain and a mobile phone. It is an unbearable pain. I know I am going through a mourning process.
I know I have to keep living and help my wife to live. I have been receiving support. Since I have started to share my feelings and speak about them, I have been feeling better. Maybe one day I can control this sadness better. If my son was alive, he would want me to cheer up and to live my life, travel and be happy. I don’t feel like doing that, but I am trying."
Vasco, 59 years old
"My husband has always hit me, since we dated. Then one day one doesn’t handle it anymore and decides to change one’s live, to go away, to be free, to be happy. It was not easy – I had to go to a town I didn’t know, find a new job (I work in a coffee shop); and now I already have a small rented house. It is quite small, but my daughter is with me – she is at school. My only regret is that not everything has been resolved in court yet. I feel trapped in a past that I want to forget. I do not regret having left all behind. When we have a problem like this, we have to accept that we have to lose some things to be free. I lost my job, some friendships, spending time with relatives, my house and even some things with were not of much value, but that were memories of my mother whom I greatly loved. I still have a lot of bitterness in my heart, but I will overcome it. I have to give it time and not to expect miracles. What I want to say is that we have to have hope, but not wait that he changes or that someone will come to sort a problem that has never changed,since we were young.
Today my daughter is much happier, we have fantastic friends, neighbours, and my colleagues are amazing. I have support from different institutions, I went to Victim Support / Apoio à Vítima, knocked on doors and I was brave. My daughter and I deserved a better life. We don’t have all that we dreamed of, and maybe we never will, but we already have this and it was the result of our effort. We are warriors and victory is achieved by battles."
Gertrudes Maria, 45 years old
"Everyone was always hitting me at school. I did not hit them because I am against violence and because it is against my religion. I was a victim because I was fat and I had lots of pimples on my face. They hit me because of my Church and because I sang songs of praise with two colleagues in another class. They called me names and threw my backpack out of the bus. I was always forgiving them, but it was harder and harder to accept. I did not know what to do and I started to do badly at school, having nightmares and not wanting to go to school. I was in a panic when Mondays arrived. Now, a victim psychologist is supporting me. My father decided I could change school and I agreed. I am adapting to the new school. I am not sure how my future will be. I have faith, and I am sure I will not let violence start. I will speak with the teachers; I will not isolate myself. The others will know a new Rodrigo, different from them, but cool and capable of not letting certain things happening. I thank God and my parents, and the teachers and the support."
Rodrigo, 13 years old
"I was a victim of crime and I was traumatised for a long time. I was leaving a party, at night, and I was dressed as a woman, because it was a theme party and because, regardless of that, I like going to these parties dressed up, with make up and hair done in a very eccentric and feminine way. I am free, I do what I want and I have never harmed anyone. But I live in a rotten society that does not accept my sexual orientation. Since I was very young I have learnt to survive comments and looks of ignorant people who would have more to gain if they looked at themselves and realized how ridicule they are when they act like that, and that such type of behaviour only reveals narrow mindedness and lack of intelligence.
I was coming out of the party - I had drunk a little, but not much. I was on my own and was going to the car. I was surprised by three young individuals who looked good, but unfortunately had bad characters because they started by making fun and groping me, pushing me to the ground. I was violently beaten and insulted. I was kicked, spitted on and, at the end, one urinated on me.
None came to rescue me and those three posh guys, that seemed so well educated, left me in that state. I had blood, urine, bruises, ripped tights, smudged face, and no shoes, which they had thrown over a high wall. Fortunately I was not dead, as it has happened to other people. It was senseless violence. At the end, they stole my bag and I never retrieved my documents, car and house keys … and the money I had for the rest of the night. I managed to drag myself to the bar and ask the doorman, whom I knew, for help. I was immediately assisted by friends, other people I knew and even strangers. But I did not want to file a complaint. I only went to the hospital, where I noticed some mocking smiles because of my clothes and accessories. As time passed I became very depressed and afraid to go out at night.
I asked APAV for help because a friend knew about the support they provided. It is good to have support, not just from our friends, but also from those who treat us like people. I had to get new documents, change the house locks, etc. And, mostly, I needed to cry and needed someone to listen with respect and understanding."
Paulo, 25 years old
"That day, I had to work till late. I had urgent things to handle and ended up having a sandwich at my desk and working till late. It was 10.30pm and I was going to the underground when a young guy came up to me saying something I did not catch. I was tired and I replied automatically “No, thank you” because I thought he was trying to sell me something, or give me a leaflet. I was being mugged.
I was paralysed with fear. Suddenly, I realized I was in a deserted street, poorly lit, with this youth in front of me, threatening me with a knife. I don't know what happened afterwards. In that moment I could only think of my daughters at home, my husband and my mother. My thoughts were frozen on the images of those I loved the most and who, suddenly, on a city street, I could loose forever. I gave him my bag - he snatched my gold necklace with the mother-of-pearl medallion. I must have taken off two rings and my wedding ring, but I don’t remember how it happened. I was not even able to scream. I walked a few streets and I found a police officer. I filed a complaint; my husband came soon afterwards. I did not sleep that night. I only cried and I was afraid.
My husband helped me a lot. He was the one who, the following day, called APAV, as the police had recommended. I went there straight away with him. I was well received, we were provided with important practical information regarding sorting out documents. Fortunately, I did not have that much money in the account and I cancelled the bank card. For several weeks I felt numb. Then I started feeling more and more depressed. My husband had to collect me from work. Those were hard times. Now I am much better. I went several times to APAV. Justice did not take my process further. In terms of Justice, my process was dismissed. Neither my bag nor my jewellery were retrieved. I miss one of them a great deal, not because it was gold, but because of sentimental reasons. All this will go away. However, I regret that the robber was not caught. I would like to ask him if he has a mother and if he would like someone to do that to her. I am sure he would say no."
Maria Adelaide, 43 years old
"I am a nursery teacher and I think that us, educators, have an obligation to pay a lot of attention to the children and the family environment in which they live. One of the little girls in my room had many urinary infections and the parents did not seem to care much. To be precise, the grandmother would be the only one coming to school to talk with me.
Following the urinary infection there were some complaints of abdominal pain and some strange stories. The little girl made some comments that led us to suspect that her own father was sexually abusing her. I met my director and the nursery psychologist and we decided to act quickly. We called the Victim Support Office (Gabinete de Apoio à Vítima) and their psychologist saw the little girl. There were strong indications that it really was a case of abuse. APAV filed a complaint and also informed the Child Protection Commission (Comissão de Protecção de Crianças e Jovens).
After a swift and efficient intervention, in my view, the situation has been sorted and the child is safe for the moment. The mother decided to split from her husband and live with the child's grandmother. The most important was the best interests of the child, as it was often highlighted in the appointments and in the meetings involving the institutions working together to stop this crime. The little girl is psychologically well. The situation was sorted calmly and discretely."
Sónia, 37 years old