Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, in order to safeguard and protect the health of victims of crime and of the communities in which it is represented, APAV closed its on-site assistance services. Nevertheless, effort was made to maintain and reinforce our Distance Support Services, privileging telephone and online/email contacts. Face-to-face support, an essential feature of support to victims of crime, remained unavailable until the beginning of May and is now slowly re-opening following the Portuguese Directorate-General for Health safety guidelines and procedures. When faced with an inevitable economic crisis, it is even more difficult for victims of crime, particularly of domestic violence, to break the cycle of violence, leave their homes and build an autonomous and independent project for their lives.
APAV has published its Annual Statistics Report 2019 this last April. The data includes the victim support cases provided by our 64 community-based services available face-to-face, via phone and online: the System of Integrated Support at a Distance support (victim support helpline 116 006 + online support), the network of Victim Support Offices (GAV), the network of shelters and the three specialised support services: UAVMD – Specialised Support Unit for Migrant Victims and Victims of Victims; CARE – Specialised Support Network to Children and Youngsters Victims of Sexual Violence; and RAFAVHT- Specialised Support Network to Family and Friends of Victims of Homicide and Terrorism.
In 2019, APAV registered a total of 54.403 support cases, an increase of 18% compared to 2018 (46.371). There was also a growth of 25% in the number of victims supported by APAV (from 9.344 in 2018 para 11.676 in 2019) and an increase of 45% of the crimes and other forms of violence reported (from 20.589 in 2018 to 29.816 in 2019).
The report also allows to differentiate the contexts of victimisation and the types of victims who contacted our services: in 2019, APAV supported 1.350 elderly people (+65 years old) victims of crime (in average, 4 per day and 26 per week); 1.473 children and youngsters (in average, 4 per day and 28 per week); 1.617 adult men (in average, 4 per day e 31 per week) and 8.394 adult women (in average, 23 per day and 161 per week).
The 2019 data is aligned with the statistical tendencies found in previous years with a majority of female victims (81%). From the 11.676 supported by APAV in 2019, 79% were victims of domestic violence. It is important to point out that crimes against property were 1.8% of the total number of crimes registered by APAV.
Within the scope of training, awareness raising, prevention of crime and violence, 1.911 training activities were promoted with the involvement of a total of 47.171 participants.
In the quality of the largest and unique Portuguese non-profit organization providing support to victims of all crimes, their families and friends, APAV aims, through this report, to provide information about the portrait of criminality and victimisation in our country.
APAV has opened a Center for Temporary Emergency Shelter for women victims of domestic violence, accepting the challenge and funding of the Cabinet of the Secretary of State for Citizenship and Equality (SECI), with the support of the Odivelas City Hall and other partners (Municipality of Arroios, the Bank of Portugal, Altice Portugal, Autcambota, El Corte Inglés and the Ministry of Culture).
The new center will receive women victims of domestic violence, with or without their children below the age of 18. The Center for Temporary Emergency Shelter will be active for the next three months, but the period of activity might be extended for another three months depending on the evolution of the health situation in the country.
With the support of the Ministry of Health, center was equipped the necessary structures to test for COVID-19, which includes waiting and confinement rooms for the women who may need them.
In this extraordinary moment, in which there are a lot of issues concerning social distancing and lockdown due to COVID-19, it is known, mainly through reports from other countries, that there is a tendency for the increase of domestic violence related situations.
APAV has earned the status of the Portuguese largest organization supporting victims of crime, namely women victims of domestic violence, and has a wide experience in managing Shelters and Emergency Shelter. Therefore, the Center for Temporary Emergency Shelter for women victims of domestic violence can rely on the institution’s knowledge and performance in this area, oriented by principles of profound respect and professionalism.
ANYONE IN ISOLATION CAN ALSO BE A VICTIM
APAV presents a new campaign on social isolation. In times when social restraint and isolation are imperative, APAV warns for the possibility of an increase in domestic violence, cybercrime and crimes against property. The creative concept of the campaign was developed by the agency CARMEN (YoungNetwork Group).
Financed by Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, Project CARE, launched in 2016, has supported over 1167 children and youngsters and 154 family members and friends during these last four years, with a total of 15.204 appointments, revealed in the statistical report available online.
The support requests have double since the beginning of project CARE, going from 195 new cases in 2016 to 417 in 2019. Most victims are girls between the ages of 14 and 17 and most situations take place within the family context (52,2% of the support requests received), at the hands of fathers/mothers or stepfathers/stepmothers.
Besides the direct support to the victims, the project includes multiple educational and awareness raising activities, which have, so far, reached over 16.000 people.
On the annual day for celebration of the Safer Internet Day – 11th February – APAV presented the 2019 Safer Internet Helpline statistics.
Operated by APAV since January 2019, the service offers two different types of support: 1) report of illegal content online – hotline and 2) support to the use of technologies and to victims of cybercrime – helpline. In 2019, APAV registered a total of 827 cases on its Safer Internet Helpline.
The Safer Internet Helpline is both confidential and free of charge, available through phone call – 800 21 90 90 (from Monday until Friday, between 9:00 and 21:00) – and email email@example.com.
The celebration of the Safer Internet Day also counted with the development of the seminar “Delete Cyberbullying”, promoted by the Portuguese Safe Internet Center at the Altice Portugal Building, in Lisbon.