In the context of a violent relationship, it is extremely possible to find yourself in a situation of immediate danger. During this phase, it is very important to trust your instincts and feelings.
If you think your life is in danger, then it really is. Leave quickly, taking your children with you. Call 100 immediately or go to the nearest police station.
You can leave the house to protect yourself even if there is a curfew in place for protection against COVID-19. Always carry your mask with you as a means of self-protection from the disease.
However, if you are not in an urgent situation, it is important to plan your escape. Attention, under no circumstances should you inform the perpetrator in advance that you will leave him.
Below, we will look at some indicative steps that are useful to keep in mind for women who want to escape from an abusive relationship.
Of course, each escape plan can only be personalized, and adapted to the needs of each woman, since only she knows what is best and safest for her and her children.
Contact agencies and services that support victims of gender-based violence to receive the necessary information and support.
Call the SOS Telephone Line 15900 (city charge) or send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org. The line is national in scope and you can speak 24 hours a day, weekdays and weekends, with psychologists and social workers who will inform you about all the options you have.
Call or visit one of the 15 Counseling Centers of the General Secretariat for Equality and Family Policy or the 26 Counseling Centers of the Municipalities.
The Centers provide free social and psychological support and legal counseling. The services are aimed at both Greek women and immigrant/refugee women, survivors of all forms of gender-based violence.
Don’t forget to erase the corresponding traces of calls or internet searches.
If there is a neighbor you trust, explain the situation to them and ask them to call the police if they realize you are in danger.
Teach your children not to get in the middle when there is an outbreak of violence. Explain to them how to call 100 in case of emergency and what exactly to report: full name, address, and phone number.
Record in a well-kept notebook as many details as you can of the abuse incidents: date and time, location, words and actions of the perpetrator, eyewitnesses or people you spoke to afterward, etc.
Start collecting files that “document” the incidents of abuse. Specifically: certificates or copies of complaints to the police/prosecutor’s office, doctor’s report, forensic report, etc.
For example, in the event of an injury – even if you do not file a complaint, even if the injury seems minor – go to a hospital on call.
After your examination, ask for the incident to be recorded in the hospital’s incident book as ‘abuse’ and get a copy of that report.
Take pictures of the wounds and bruises on your body.
Remember that the recording of the incident is an important piece of evidence and is valuable in the proceedings that will follow (e.g. divorce).
Collect all the necessary documents, both yours and your children’s: identity card, health book, passport, cards, and bank account books, driver’s license and car license, certificates e.g. birth, marital status, tax declaration, important medical examinations, work-related documents, school documents, residence and work permit.
Get a spare key for the house and the car. Keep them in a place where it is impossible for him to find them and you can take them immediately in case of escape.
Memorize the phone numbers you may need in case of emergency: e.g. Police (100 or 112), EKAV (166), Fire Department (199), SOS Line 15900 or phone numbers of organizations and hostels, trusted friends and relatives, and lawyer.
At the same time, write the useful phone numbers in a notebook.
After your escape, it is necessary to get a new and confidential number. Don’t forget to disable the “location services” on the mobile device or anything else related that could “reveal” your location to the perpetrator.
Reach out to a trusted relative or friend, that you are sure will help you in case of need. Give her/him a suitcase with all the essentials you have packed (a few clothes, necessary documents, and spare keys, money, one or two favorite things of you and your children’s).
Try to train yourself to escape safely. Locate the road that will take you away from home quickly and safely.
Make a rough plan of your house, where you will take into account windows, doors, and exits. Think in which room you could have access to a phone and an escape exit at the same time. Can you lock this room from the inside?
Try to recall your personal safety plan as often as you can.
After running away, avoid staying at the home of someone the abuser knows. If you don’t have a home or money, contact one of the 21 Hostels of the General Secretariat for Equality and Family Policy and the National Center for Social Solidarity (EKKA), which have a secret address.
To be referred to a hostel, you need to call 15900 or a counseling center. Because staying in a hostel requires medical examinations and a psychiatric evaluation by a public hospital, procedures that take several days – if you are in an emergency, contact the Athens Municipality’s Shelter for Abused Women, which operates on a 24-hour basis.
You can stay in the hostels – whether you are Greek or foreign – with your children (in the case of boys, if they are up to 12 years old).
There you will receive free counseling, and psychological and material support (e.g. food, and clothes).
It is important to know that hostels are a temporary solution until you get your own home and financial independence.
Thus, the hosting lasts up to three months, with the possibility of extension only if there are serious reasons.
Unlock your power
During the quarantine period, women living in violent relationships are the most threatened. Every survivor can escape abuse if they “unlock” the power hidden within them. All women have the right to safety, justice, freedom; to a life free of violence.
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