Don’t suffer in silence, help is at hand.jpg

Don’t suffer in silence, help is at hand


Being a victim of crime or domestic abuse in a foreign country can often be a horrendous experience, leaving victims frightened, confused and unsure of where to turn to.

Help is at hand from the Associação Portuguesa de Apoio à Vitima (APAV), Portugal’s victim support association.

Psychologist Rita Bessa from APAV’s Tavira office based at the PSP station of the city, said: “APAV is here to help anyone who has been a victim of any type of crime in Portugal.

 “We offer a drop in service as well as a national helpline where victims of all nationalities can receive free and confidential help.”

APAV, which was set up in Portugal 19 years ago, specialises in offering three main services for crime victims. These are legal, social and psychological support, which are tailored to suit each individual situation.

“The majority of victims we receive are women who suffer from domestic violence,” said Rita. “This is true for women of all nationalities.”

Victims of other crimes such as human trafficking also make up a large percentage of the people who turn to APAV for help, but they are normally immigrants from non-EU countries.

APAV works in conjunction with other charities, associations, embassies and government services.

“We also work in partnership with the police, as many of our offices are located in police stations,” said Rita. “Victims need not worry as our policy is one of strict confidentiality so we do not report details to the police if people do not want us to.”

This year, Rita Bessa is also working on a new project called Projecto Sul which specialises in helping victims who are immigrants in Portugal.

“This is a new project which will see a mobile victim support unit travelling across the Algarve region to where it is needed most.

“People can call us and the mobile unit will be sent to them where professionals will offer advice, counseling and support to foreigners who have been victims of crime or abuse.”

According to Rita, there are many situations of sexual exploitation and exploitation in the workplace of foreign residents in the region, which are difficult for the authorities to detect and identify.

“Many people, especially women, are lured to a country for economic reasons and promised a safe job, but when they arrive they are faced with a different reality,” said Rita.

For more information about APAV, please visit the website, available in Portuguese only, at or call the helpline 707 20 00 77, which is manned weekdays from 10am until 1pm and 2pm until 5pm.

If you have been a victim of crime or have a question about living in Portugal, you may also contact Linha SOS Imigrante on 808 257 257 from a landline or 213 124 458 from a mobile telephone.

This is a helpline with multilingual staff who are dedicated to helping the foreign community in Portugal.

Algarve APAV offices:

Tavira: PSP police station, Avenida da Comunidade Lusiada Atalaia. Tel: 281 320 592, Email

Opening times: Tuesday, Thursdays and Fridays from 9.30am until 1pm. Wednesday from 2.30pm until 6pm.

Portimão: PSP police station, Avenida Miguel Bombarda. Tel: 282 484 407, Email

Opening times: Tuesday, Wednesdays and Fridays from 2pm until 6pm. Tuesdays and Thursdays from 9am until 1pm.

Albufeira: GNR station, Avenida 25 de Abril, 22. Tel: 289 585 770, Email

Opening times: Mondays, Tuesday and Thursdays from 9.30am until 12.30pm. Wednesdays and Fridays from 1.30pm until 4pm.

Faro: Governo Civil de Faro, Praça D. Francisco Gomes, 1-A. Tel: 289 820 788, Email

Opening times: Monday to Friday from 10am until 12.30pm and 2pm until 5.30pm.

Loulé: GNR station, Travessa Charles Bonnett. Tel: 289 422 832, Email

Opening times: Mondays and Wednesdays 9am until 1pm. Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays from 2pm until 6pm.