Domestic violence is something we hope no one ever has to go through. For parents in our community who find themselves in an abusive situation, the stress is often compounded by being in a foreign system and language. ARISE NL, a non-profit support organisation, has compiled their essential resources, in conjunction with the recommendations from the Dutch Ministries of Justice and Health.
Find Resources and Support
Protect yourself by asking for information and assistance from professional help workers and organisations, so you are able to make the right decision for yourself and your children. Inform your general practitioner (huisarts) of your situation, and when possible ask for a referral to your local social work team (sociaal wijkteam) or the domestic abuse helpline Veiligthuis.
To talk to someone about domestic violence (websites are in Dutch and English) you can contact:
- Veiligthuis (National Domestic Violence, Child Abuse & Elderly Abuse Hotline): tel. 0800 2000 (24/7 free number)
- Blijf Groep (North Holland domestic violence shelter group): tel. 020 611 6022
- Stichting Korrelatie (for help with relationship problems): tel. 0900 1450
- The primary aid line for help after sexual violence: tel. 020 613 0245
Organisations that provide information and support in English:
- Amsterdam Mamas: email email@example.com
- Kezban Foundation: tel. 06-12 50 7996, email firstname.lastname@example.org
For undocumented individuals and asylum seekers:
For violent partners or family members, there is a programme for behavioural change where he/she can learn to control their aggression. In some cases, the victims of domestic violence find that once their partner joins such a group, the violence at home decreases. Addresses of such therapy and self-help groups are available from Veiligthuis, Blijf Groep, social workers, and women’s centres. For undocumented individuals and refugees, contacts at refugee organisations are available.
Create an Emergency Plan
An emergency plan can help you prepare for what to do in a violent situation.
Step by Step:
- Create a network of supportive friends and/or family who can offer temporary help when you need it. Inform trusted individuals (social worker, friend, etc) of what is happening to you, and ask them to keep in touch with you at certain points of the day for updates on your safety. Create a follow-up plan in case you don't respond. They can also call the police (112) for you when you are unable to during a physical assault or in an abusive situation.
- Ask for help to arrange a shelter for yourself and your children that the offender does not know about. If at first it is impossible for you all to go to one address, arrange several alternative shelters and care providers for your child/ren. Various independent organisations have information about the different shelters available.
- Prepare an emergency bag or suitcase which contains clothes, mobile phone, emergency money, transport pass/es, and other items that you will need immediately should the situation become so bad that you have to leave home in a hurry. At a time like that, you might not even have time to dress yourself or your children properly. Keep the suitcase well hidden in a strategic but easily accessible place in the house or at a trusted friend or neighbour’s place.
- Gather important official documents such as passports, marriage certificate, birth certificates, your residence permit, bank cards, bank statements, diplomas, proof of residence, and a list of important telephone numbers and addresses. Keep them with your emergency bag, or with someone safe outside the home where you can collect them once you’ve left.
- Slowly move your valuable personal possessions to a location unknown to your partner, such as a secure storage facility or spread out with friends. This prevents your partner from destroying your possessions and makes it easier to collect your property at a later time if you are unable to go back to your home.
- Keep records, in any form, of everything connected in any way to the violence. Keep sms/e-mail/viber/WhatsApp, etc. messages, audio/video recordings, medical records, police statements, and court details and photos. Make copies of all important documents and have someone else keep them for you or uploaded to a secure cloud account that only you can access. You could need any or all of these later as proof of the violence.
- After you have left, turn off location tracking on your electronic devices and do not under any circumstances give the offender or their friends or relatives any details of your whereabouts. Be extremely vigilant. Always inform someone you trust where you are going and what time you plan to be back. Always take as many safety precautions as possible.
- Use the law and the regulations designed to protect you. Call the police (112). If necessary, seek a restraining order. If the case goes to court, request a lawyer to support you at all the hearings. Go through every legal procedure possible to convince the offender of their responsibility for their actions and to protect yourself. Do not allow yourself to be intimidated.
- If you have shared custody of a child, stay in the country until you have gained permission from authorities to leave. Under the Hague Convention, a parent who takes a child out of the country without the permission of the other parent can be charged with child abduction, even the reason is due to domestic violence.
- If you have limited Dutch reading/speaking/comprehension skills, seek help from an organisation that speaks your language or where the services of an interpreter are available. Always carry the telephone number of an interpreting centre in the area, or take someone with you who you trust completely and who can interpret for you. Courts provide a free translator – just remind your lawyer to request one for you. There is also a paid translation service (verbal and written) called Tok Telefoon: tel. 088 255 5222.
If you need immediate help, call the police: dial 112. They are authorised to intervene in situations to keep you and your child/ren safe and secure.
The police are part of emergency services that can respond to situations such as psychological and physical abuse. When they come to your home due to you or your neighbour's call, they will approach the offender about his/her behaviour and discuss what happens next. In some situations, a temporary restraining order is given to the offender. This means that he/she may not enter the house for a short period of time.
In cases of serious violence, the police can prosecute, in which case the offender will probably be taken to court.
You can also go to the police at any time. They will listen to you and explain what they can do. You can bring charges (via an aangifte police report), or you can report the incident to be recorded in the police records without pressing charges (an aanmelden police report). If you do decide to bring charges, they will ask for proof of evidence such as photos of bruises or wounds, medical records, or statements from witnesses.
You can also file anonymously (anoniem melden) through Meld Misdaad Anoniem: tel.0800-7000 (weekdays: 8:00-24:00; weekend: 9:00-17:00).
If you have a dependent visa status, you are entitled to an individual residence permit if you separate or divorce due to domestic abuse. You will not have to leave the Netherlands.
Further Reading and Listening:
Editor's note: The resources in this article were compiled by the ARISE NL Foundation, with help from the brochure "Protect Yourself Against Violence" produced by MOVISIE and the Shakti Foundation.
ARISE NL is a newly established national non-profit organisation providing comprehensive English documentation and information exclusively to mothers, men, LGBT, and their children suffering from domestic abuse. From the moment an individual wishes to leave an abusive situation, to the courtroom, to changes to government policies, we work every day to give them and their children, and those who care about them, the tools they need to live a safer and healthier life. We aim to provide Awareness, Rights, Information, Support & Empowerment through Education in English in the Netherlands. We envision an empowered abuse victim free of barriers in the Netherlands.