**First, if you or someone you know is in immediate distress or danger, please call 112.**
Are you or someone you know a victim of domestic abuse living in Croatia? By Croatian law, domestic abuse is defined as:
- Physical violence
- Physical punishment or other forms of humiliating treatment of children
- Psychological violence that causes anxiety or injury to dignity
- Sexual harassment
- Economic violence as an act of prohibition or disabling of the use of a joint or personal property, inability to dispose of personal income or property acquired through personal means or through inheritance, disabling the opportunity to be employed, deprivation of resources for maintaining a common household and child care.
- Neglecting the needs of a person with a disability or an elderly person that causes them anxiety or insults to their dignity and thereby causes bodily or mental suffering.
If you feel like you or someone you know is experiencing the above abuse or if you find your current living situation unbearable, please reach out to the institution nearest to you for help. This link is a list to all government-run institutions.
You have rights and a voice. There are people who have the skills and expertise to help you.
By law, abuse victims have the following rights:
- The right to access services that support victims of domestic violence
- The right to effective psychological and professional help as well as support of institutions, organizations or bodies that provide the assistance for victims of domestic violence
- The right to protection from intimidation and retaliation
- The right to protection of dignity during the examination of the victim as a witness
- The right to be accompanied by a person of trust during all the actions in which he or she participates
- The right to be informed, without unnecessary delay, of the retention or escape of the defendant and of the decision to impose protective measures and of the lifting of the precautionary measures imposed for the purpose of protecting or of the releasing of the convicted person from imprisonment
- The right to the confidentiality of data whose disclosure could jeopardize the victim’s security or the security of the persons referred to in Article 8, paragraphs 1 and 2 of this Act, and the right to request exclusion of the public in proceedings before the court
- The right to be represented by another person authorized through power of attorney
- The right to be informed at the request of the action taken on the application and the outcome of the proceedings
- The right to be questioned without unjustified delay shortly after filing a complaint, the right to be questioned in the proceedings before the court and the right to be additionally questioned only in an amount that is necessary for the conduct of proceedings regarding violation charges
- The right to be questioned by the same sex representative of the police
- The right to avoid contact with the perpetrator before and during the proceedings, unless proceedings regarding violation charges require such contact
- The right to temporary accommodation in an appropriate institution in accordance with a special law
- The right to police protection and insurance, upon a court order, for the purpose of unharmed personal use when leaving the common household
- All other rights prescribed by the law governing the criminal proceedings, other than those rights which, by their nature, only the victim of a criminal offense may already possess.
Depending on your situation, your first step will be to contact a support association, unless you are in immediate danger, in which case you should contact the police at 112. Assault is a crime and should be reported to the police immediately.
The Ministry of Internal Affairs offers advice for victims of domestic abuse on its web site, which we’ve translated into English below in italics. Please note that the below text in italics is a verbatim English translation of the text written by the Croatian government.
During police intervention, your contribution towards clarifying the circumstances of the occurred violent event is also very important. You would greatly assist the police when participating in the following way:
- Upon arrival of the police, seek medical help if you need it.
- Please describe in detail the circumstances of the violent event.
- Indicate any previous cases of violence in your family.
- Especially emphasize whether children were present during the violent event.
- Provide any information about the existence of weapons in your home.
- Ask the police to acquaint you with your rights.
- In agreement with the police, propose one of the protective measures or precautionary measures that would contribute to the better protection of you and your family.
- Ask the police to notify you of further proceedings with the perpetrator.
- Ask the police to refer you to institutions that can assist you with accommodation in shelters or homes for children and adults who are victims of domestic violence.
It is good to know:
- If you live in a violent partnership, the responsibility for your life and the life of your children is up to you. If you want to get out of such a relationship, look for help, because there are services that will provide you with help and protection.
- If there is a risk of your partner’s violent behavior, avoid a threatening situation and go with friends or relatives.
- If you recognize some of the signs of domestic violence in a relationship or if some of the consequences have already occurred, we advise you to report it to the: police, state attorney’s office, to the competent social welfare center, non-governmental association, health institution, Human Rights Commissioner.
- If you have reported that you are a victim of domestic violence and during misdemeanor or criminal proceedings you are feeling insecure or vulnerable, we advise you to contact the above-mentioned services in this situation too.
When you decide to get out of the circle of violence, do not forget to take with you:
- Things that are solely your personal property
- Official documents (your passport, your children’s medical ID, ID card, marriage certificate, real estate documents, birth certificate, school books and all other necessary documents)
- Necessary medicines
- Your keys
- Most important clothing and footwear
- Children’s favorite toys, school bags and books
This post is meant to communicate what your options are by law. You may also reference the following posts for more information:
If you want to seek the refuge in a shelter, contact the police or the nearest social welfare center. It is important to make a police report against your abuser to get the abuse on the record.
Do not be afraid to ask for help and assistance. Remember you do not deserve abuse and have the right to seek help.
In our next post, we will talk about the realities of how domestic abuse is handled in Croatia.