Fighting Sexual Violence Center Open 24 Hours In Madrid: “We Believe In All Women Who Come”

“Aggressive must be noticed”


The venue, which offers telephone and face-to-face service every day of the year, has already attended more than 1,000 Madrid since it opened in 2019.

Center coordinators interact with a member in a listening room.
Center coordinators interact with a member in a listening room.Javier Barabancho

“Women are afraid of not being believed, judged and blamed. This makes them hesitant to seek support and even shut up and don’t tell anyone,

Silent are those who are deaf. What are they hiding? grief and traumaUntil you can’t anymore. Pilar Estbanez, Crisis Center Against Sexual Violence Open 24 hours a day, 365 days a yearto push Refugees To all the women who have been victims of cramps in the capital.

Ever since it opened its doors, in December 2019, over 1,000 madrid They have passed through one of its three auditory chambers, draped in warm colours, where they have let their affairs flow. “This violence takes away all your rights, Many blame themselves for what happened… for us they have survived,” says Belen Marten, the coordinator of the center since its inception.

She commands a team of 18 technical professionals, including social workers, psychologists and legal counselors, who are sometimes helped by the Linguistic Interpretation Service. although it is not common 73% of its visitors are Spanishand the remaining 27%, mostly from South America—mainly from Colombia, Bolivia and Peru—.

“We have doubled our trips”

A leading center at the national level, Pilar Estbanez marks the path that other similar locations have followed, such as the one opened in Asturias in late 2020. One of the keys to its success is that it provides multidisciplinary interventions. by phone and in person 24 hours a day, Of course, they choose to preserve their space “in order to protect the privacy of women.”

They also provide the possibility to contact this organization through WhatsApp and whenever they want, Companion to Hospitals, Police Stations or Judicial Offices, “In recent months we have doubled last year’s figures. We now serve over 60 new monthly users, when During 2021 it was about thirty monthssays the coordinator.

One of the three auditory halls of this centre.
One of the three auditory halls of this centre.Javier Barabancho

Some sufferers call immediately, “with high levels of stress and anxiety.” In these cases when immediate action is required, a taxi is dispatched from the center to the person’s home. “When the invasion has happened recently, The first few hours are critical for sample collection, From here we send girls to La Paz or UFAM, the family and women’s care unit, for health issues if they want to file a complaint,” explains Martin.

On other occasions, when the crowd is not decisive, upon arrival at the center the victim is assessed by three areas (social, psychological and legal), “heeding their demands”: “We advise them about their options”. They come with many doubts, even with a sense of shame, From that moment on we started to intervene, busting all the myths related to sexual violence… the focus should be on the person who is being attacked. The stereotype that women are always to blame a misconception that removes responsibility from human beings,

“This is not a beach bar”

Despite the work of her and the rest of her colleagues, progress in this matter, slides this expert, is “very slow.” “Sometimes I even see a certain repetition. You get angry, misunderstood … And it’s frustrating when looking at what remains to be doneThe conversation continues and Martin’s face turns, sparking a slight indignation as he speaks. “false allegations” So mentioned by some political parties.

“Our philosophy is based on believing in all the women who come. We haven’t found anyone who has cheated on us. They don’t get any monetary benefit and neither is it the middle baris a right with which we seek to prevent, protect and improve the lives of victims”, she replies, adding to the commitment of all our workers.

Sexual violence is like an iceberg for this coordinator. He insisted that rape or such attacks are only the tip. Submerged, or less visible, they “remain from sharing photos without the woman’s consent, as happened with the Iveco worker who committed suicide leaving two very young children, Street harassment or abuse in the workplace. There is violence that doesn’t seem so serious, but does happen.” Here it also includes the suspicion of being a victim. After suffering an episode of chemical submissionThe sextorsin (extortion through risky material) or female genital mutilation.

Martin and his team will continue “at the bottom of the valley” until the situation improves. da trus dabe it christmas, imprisonment or philomenus: “A certain repair begins after taking the step of approaching this center. They begin to displace the feeling that ‘this is the worst thing that has happened to me’ or ‘I am not going to get out of this’ . Of course it goes away, you can go back to living a normal life After experiencing such trauma”.

“Foremost in Europe”

“At the end of 2019 we inaugurated the first 24-hour care center for victims of sexual violence in Spain, which has put Madrid at the forefront of this type of care. In fact, it remains the reference point that all administration plans are building similar centers to open”, explains Pepe Aniort, representative of family, equality and social welfare, who concludes: “An initiative like Madrid is where it should be: gender-based violence in our country and Europe. at the forefront of policies against “.

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