U.S. Citizen Services
SPECIAL CONSULAR SERVICES
Help For American Victims Of Crime Overseas
If you are the victim of a crime in Romania, the staff of the American Citizen Services Section is prepared to assist you.
What we can do:
- Help you replace a lost/stolen passport
- Help you find appropriate medical care if you are injured
- Assist you with emergency needs that might arise as a result of the crime, such as finding shelter, food or clothing
- Help you contact your family, friends or employer
- Provide you with information on how and where you can report the crime to local law enforcement officials Number for police emergency calls: Phone 112
- Provide you with general information about the criminal justice process in Romania
- Provide a list of English speaking Attorneys (PDF - 264kb)
- Provide information about resources for crime victims in Romania
- Provide information about crime victim assistance resources in your state of residence if you are returning to the U.S.
- Special information for cases of sexual assault and rape
- Special information for cases of domestic violence
- Special information for cases of child abuse
- Special information for cases of homicide
Consular officials cannot, however, investigate crimes, provide legal advice or represent you in court, serve as official interpreters or translators, or pay legal, medical, or other fees for you.
The American Embassy assumes no responsibility or liability for the professional ability or reputation of or the quality of service provided by the persons or organization whose names appear in the information contained on this site. This information is provided merely as a convenience to American citizens in Romania and in no way constitutes an official recommendation by the U.S. Government or its representative.
You may reach us at the American Citizen Services office at ACSBucharest@state.gov
The Embassy emergency duty officer can be reached after working hours by calling +(40-21) 200-3433.
The information included in this guide relating to the legal requirements in Romania is provided for general information purposes only. The information may not be accurate or relevant to a particular case. Questions involving interpretation of Romanian laws should be addressed to an attorney licensed to practice law in Romania. The investigation and prosecution of the crime is solely the responsibility of local authorities. The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) may assist in certain cases of kidnapping, hostage-taking and terrorism at the request of local officials.
Victims of crime can request assistance by calling the emergency hotline 112, which is the Romanian equivalent of 911. Crimes should also be reported to local police stations and filed as soon as possible to aid police in investigating the crime. A criminal investigation is generally initiated without a prior complaint from the victim. A prior complaint is, however, required with certain crimes where the investigation or legal process might put the victim in a difficult or embarrassing situation. In these cases, the victim is allowed to make a decision whether to file a complaint or not. If the victim chooses to file a complaint, he/she may also request free legal aid and financial compensation, as long as the complaint is filed within 60 days from the date when the crime was committed or from the date on which the victim recognized that the crime had been committed or from the date on which the victim’s state of incapacity ceased.
A preliminary complaint is required to investigate cases of assault and battery, physical injury, threat, rape, family abandonment and non-compliance with decisions related to the custody of minors. Victims should notify the public prosecution office in the jurisdiction where the crime happened. In cases of assault and battery, unintentional physical injury or threat, or if the identity of the perpetrator is known the victim can file a preliminary complaint with the court. If the perpetrator is unknown, the complaint should be filed with the local police, Criminal Investigation Division. (Directia Cercetari Penale)
Criminal investigations are initiated without preliminary complaint in cases of aggravated murder, first degree murder, robbery, provoking or facilitating suicide, grievous bodily harm, willful grievous bodily harm, false imprisonment, slavery, forced or compulsory labor, blackmail, sexual abuse of a minor, HIV transmission, and exposure to danger of a person who is unable to take care of him/herself.
Victims who are not yet 18 years old or those have been declared incapable of managing their own affairs are not required to file a complaint. Their legal representative may file on the victim’s behalf.
The complaint is a report that includes information on the victim, name and address, description of the crime, name of the perpetrator if known and description of evidence.
Third parties who become aware of a crime may notify the public prosecution office through a denunciation, which must contain the same information as a complaint. A complaint or denunciation can be done in writing, or can be tape-recorded in the institution where the complaint or denunciation is filed.
Reports or complaints may be filed by the victim personally or through an attorney-in-fact acting on the victim’s behalf. The power of attorney (“procura”) needs to be drafted especially for this purpose, and will remain attached to the complaint during criminal proceedings. A complaint may also be filed by one spouse on behalf of the other, or by a child of age on behalf of his/her parents, in which case the victim has the right to refuse continuation of proceedings. If the victim is a person lacking legal capacity, the complaint must be filed by his/her legal representative. If the victim has limited legal capacity, he/she may file a complaint with the consent of his/her legal representative. Victims generally do not receive copies of their police reports, but an attorney may request copies of the documents from the file. While bilingual staff can be found at police stations, police do not provide formal interpretation services. During the legal proceedings, victims will be provided interpreters, but they may also retain the services of an authorized interpreter of their choice.
If you have difficulties filing your police report with an official, please contact the U.S. Embassy. You may need a police report to file for crime victim compensation or insurance reimbursement. If you do decide to file a report please send a copy to us, along with your address and phone number in the event we need to communicate with you. While we are not authorized to act as your legal representative, prosecutor, investigator, or official translator, our office can help you track the progress of your case and advise you of any developments.
Regardless of the way in which they were notified of a crime, judges, prosecutors and police officers are obligated to provide crime victims with information concerning:
- Services and organizations providing psychological counseling or any other form of assistance to victims, depending on their needs;
- Filing a complaint;
- Obtaining free legal assistance;
- Procedural rights of the victim or party seeking compensations;
- Witness protection;
- Procedures for receiving financial compensations from the government.
Such information is to be provided to the victim by the prosecutor or the police officer in writing or verbally, and in a language that the victim understands.
The Criminal Investigation Directorate of the Romanian Police Inspectorate is responsible for preventing and investigating crimes. The Romanian Police are divided into 41 territorial inspectorates, corresponding to each county and the General Inspectorate of the Police in Bucharest. Police may detain suspects for a maximum of 24 hours without pressing formal charges. Police inspectors collect forensic evidence (fingerprints, photographs) or any other evidence that may serve for prosecuting the crime, even if the perpetrator admits to committing the crime. If necessary, the police will request a medico-legal examination of the victim or the suspect and will direct or accompany the parties to the Medico-Legal Institute. The victim will be allowed to bring someone (i.e. a friend or family member) for emotional support during this process. The medico-legal certificate issued upon examination can be used in courts in criminal and civil cases as body of evidence and for requesting compensation.
Prosecutors control and supervise the criminal investigations. Threats, harassment and intimidation should be reported to the case officer or prosecutor to discuss protective measures. Romanian criminal law makes a distinction between safety measures and preventive measures.
When a perpetrator is identified, the Prosecutor may issue a three-day preventive arrest warrant. The duration of preventive arrest may be extended by a judge at the prosecutor’s request for 30-day increments, but cannot exceed six months in pretrial phase. Other preventive measures may be taken for up to two years in pretrial phase (such as movement restrictions). If the criminal investigation authorities deem this necessary, the victim may be asked to identify the perpetrator in a police line-up.
If a victim of a violent crime decides to proceed with a criminal complaint, he/she will be directed to the Medico-Legal Institute. Doctors with legal training then issue a "legal certificate" that documents the injury, the cause of the injury, and the number of days of medical treatment necessary for recovery. The Romanian Criminal Code defines the severity level of an assault by the number of days of medical assistance required by the victim. Doctors have discretion in certifying the medical treatment period and there are circumstances where this discretion may be abused. The number of days certified may not accurately reflect the actual healing time for the injury.
Criminal charges can be brought if the victim requires over 10 days of medical care, in which case the possible sentence is one to three months detention and fine. If the number of days of medical assistance required by the victim exceeds 20, the penalty is three months to two years of detention. Crimes which require over 60 days of medical care lead to a possible sentence of two to seven years. If the assault leads to disability or the loss of an organ, the penalty is three to twelve years of imprisonment.
The Prosecutor may decide that the case will not go to trial if there is not sufficient evidence of a crime, the offense is not a felony, there is no preliminary complaint or authorization from the victim (when required by law), the status of limitation applies, or the parties have reconciled. However, withdrawal of a complaint by the victim might not remove the criminal liability of the accused. During the trial the Prosecutor’s office may decide to drop the charges under the conditions stated above.
The investigation or trial of a suspect can be extended to other suspects, or a new criminal case can be opened based on the initial criminal investigation later when more suspects are identified.
Trials may take a few months to a few years. Close to 90% of criminal trials end within six to twelve months and about 2% of the cases last between one and three years. The victim may have to testify in court, but the victim’s absence from the court proceedings does not impede the trial if he/she is represented by an attorney. In some cases, the victim may submit written statements in lieu of a court appearance.
Romania has a civil law system. There is no jury and the trials, civil or criminal, are bench trials ending with a verdict issued by the judge. In a criminal trial, the victim of a crime may obtain damages from the perpetrator of the crime by participating in the trial as a civil party. A victim who did not become a civil party in a criminal case may file separately for compensation in a civil court. The civil court case will be suspended until the criminal trial has ended.
A civil action has the purpose of establishing the responsibility of the offender, as well as the party with liability under civil law.
Normally, court hearings are public. However, upon request, the judge may declare the hearing or some part of it closed to the general public. The media is not allowed in courtrooms, although outside the courtroom filming and photographing is permitted. In certain cases, the judge may allow the media to film or take photographs from the courtroom for one to three minutes before the beginning of a hearing. Public access in the courtroom is permitted 30 minutes before the hearing. All the people present in the courtroom must rise when the judge enters and leaves the room. Appropriate attire must be worn in the court room. It is forbidden to carry weapons or dangerous objects into a court room. Furthermore, it is forbidden to bring food or beverages into the courtroom, or to read newspapers or magazines during the court sessions. Attendees should maintain silence as well as respectful and courteous behavior.
Courts provide translation for victims and witnesses who do not speak Romanian. At the beginning of the hearing, the judge will confirm the presence of the witnesses, experts and interpreters, then will ask the witness to leave the courtroom until he/she is called back to testify. Expert witnesses are allowed to stay in the courtroom unless the judge decides otherwise. Witnesses, expert witnesses and interpreters may address the court or testify even if they were not subpoenaed to appear at the hearing, but only after they identify themselves for the court.
Parties should only speak when the judge permits. The party addressing the court must stand. The victim or petitioner makes the first statement in court, followed by the defendant, witnesses and expert witnesses. Witnesses first answer questions from the party who called them, then questions from the opposing party. Parties addressing the court must answer questions calmly and politely. There is no direct questioning by attorneys during examination or cross-examinations. Questions must be addressed to the opposing party through the judge (“Mr./Mrs. President of the court, please ask the defendant/witness…”). The judge then addresses the party directly.
When the judge declares the trial over, the judge or judges will deliberate in their chamber to reach a sentence. If the judge needs more time to reach a decision, the sentencing may be postponed for a week. The sentence is read by the judge in a court hearing and is delivered to both parties in writing within 30 days from the date it was issued. Victims are informed of the outcome of the trial by their local lawyer.
The sentence may be appealed within 10 days, counted from the date when the convicted party was informed of the sentence, either by being present in court when the judge read the verdict, or by receiving a copy of the judge’s decision. The appeal hearing must be scheduled within three days of filing. Victims may be expected to testify again during the appeals phase. If the accused is again found guilty, the sentencing takes place immediately. The court of appeals has the discretion to retry the case in its entirety or resend the case to the lower court for retrial.
You may want to consider hiring a local attorney to secure appropriate legal guidance because local legal procedures differ substantially from those in the United States. Although the public prosecutor is responsible for prosecuting your case, an attorney you hire can promote your interests with the police and the court. While our office cannot recommend specific attorneys, we can provide you with a list of attorneys who have expressed interest in representing U.S. citizens. This list is available on the Internet at http://romania.usembassy.gov.
Victim Compensation in Romania
The responsibility to compensate a victim for injuries and damages suffered, hereby referred to as civil liability, lies with the offender. Civil liability is prescribed by the civil law of Romania and obliges the offender to pay damages to the victim to cover the damages received.
The responsibility of the offender to pay damages to the victim is different from his/her criminal liability vis-à-vis the state. Damages concern the relationship between the offender and the victim, and, in principle, it is the victim who has to demand such damages in civil court proceedings. The criminal liability concerns the relationship between the offender and the state. It is for the competent authorities (police, prosecutor, investigating judge) to seek evidence against the perpetrator regarding his or her guilt with the ultimate decision being made during criminal court proceedings.
Realistically in many cases, it is not possible for the victim to extract damages from the offender. Sometimes the offender is never identified or the police investigation do not obtain sufficient evidence for a successful prosecution. Sometimes even when the victim has obtained a judgment regarding damages, the offender may be without income and/or assets and cannot pay appropriate compensation. For these reasons, both Romania and the United States have separate measures whereby victims may be eligible for compensation from the state instead. Compensation may be available, depending on the circumstance from the Romanian government and/or the U.S. Department of Justice or the U.S. state in which the victim permanently resides.
During a criminal trial, a civil action may be brought together with the criminal action until the act of referral is read. An act of referral consists of the document the prosecutor uses to refer the case to the court or to send it to trial. A civil action has the purpose of establishing the responsibility of the offender or the party with liability under civil law. The fact that the injured party brings a civil action does not alter the person's right to take part in the same trial as an injured party. Civil actions are exempted from standard filing fees. Civil actions are brought and conducted (ex officio) when the injured party lacks the capacity or has a limited capacity to exercise his or her rights.
Damages are paid in kind or in money in cases where payment in kind is not possible. Damages are also awarded for any injury suffered by the civil party.
How to put forward the claim for compensation
During criminal proceedings the claim must be submitted to the criminal prosecution service and during the trial it should be submitted to the court. The person claiming damages must indicate the amount thereof.
Any person bringing an action in a trial is entitled to legal assistance from a private attorney if one chooses to pay.
Free legal assistance is granted, on application, to the following categories:
- victims of attempted murder, grievous bodily harm, willful grievous bodily harm, rape, sexual intercourse with a minor or sexual abuse;
- the spouse, children and/or dependents of a victim of murder, first-degree murder or aggravated murder, or wilful crimes that led to the victim's death.
- Free legal aid is granted under certain circumstances, on application, to the victims of other crimes if the monthly income per member of the victim’s family is at most equal to the Romanian minimum gross salary established for the year in which the victim submitted the application for legal aid.
Legal aid is granted only if the victim notifies the public prosecution service or the court within 60 days from the date when the crime was committed or from the date on which the victim recognized that the crime had been committed or from the date on which the state of incapacity ceased.
Victims who are not yet 18 years old or who have been declared incapable of managing their own affairs are not required to notify the public prosecution service or the court of the crime. Their legal representative may notify the public prosecution service.
Evidence in support of claims for compensation
The facts of the case are determined by the following evidence: statements by the defendant or perpetrator, statements by the injured party, the civil party and the party liable under civil law, witness statements, written documents, audio or video recordings, photographs, material evidence, technical-scientific findings, forensics and expert reports. Evidence illegally obtained cannot be used in criminal trials.
Civil actions are conducted under civil law even if they are brought during a criminal trial. Therefore, the civil party may submit evidence under civil law in support of his/her claims (written evidence, verification reports, witness evidence, expert reports, on-the-spot investigations, interviews).
Assistance available to crime victims for the enforcement of the judgment against the offender
Orders arising from the criminal-law judgment regarding the civil damages and costs payable to the parties are enforced according to civil law. Assets are attached in response to an application from the claimant by the officer of the court at the place of residence or business of the debtor or the third party whose assets are attached. In the case of family child maintenance payment and of compensation for damages for the reparation of the damages caused by death, health and bodily harm, when the order is enforced upon the debtor's salary or other regular flows of income, the court orders the initiation of the attachment ex officio immediately after the decision enters into force.
Where enforcement is initiated by several claimants, the officer of the court distributes the amount in the following order of preference, except where the law provides otherwise: legal costs, wages, claims for financial support, compensation claimed for damages inflicted on public property by illegal acts, other claims. Where claims are in the same preference category, unless the law provides otherwise, the amount obtained will be shared out among the claimants in proportion to each claim.
Obtaining compensation from the Romanian government or from a public body
Financial compensation from the state can be obtained under Law No 211/2004, which establishes measures for the protection of crime victims. Financial compensation granted by the state is secondary and covers only those cases where damages cannot be claimed from the criminal. It is awarded to the crime victim only if he/she notified the public prosecution service or the court within 60 days from the date when the crime was committed or from the date on which the victim recognized that the crime had been committed or from the date on which the state of incapacity ceased. To apply for compensation, a crime victim does not need to await the outcome of the criminal investigation or criminal proceedings. Applications for compensation should be submitted to the court of law within the jurisdiction of which the victim lives. The application is processed by two judges on the committee responsible for awarding compensation to crime victims that is attached to every court of law.
Financial compensation from the state is granted, on application, to the following types of victim:
- Victims of attempted murder, grievous bodily harm, willful grievous bodily harm, rape, sexual intercourse with a minor or sexual abuse;
- Spouses, children and dependents of a victim of murder, first-degree murder or aggravated murder, or of willful crimes that led to the victim's death.
- Financial compensation is granted to victims if the crime was committed in Romania and the victim is a Romanian citizen or a foreign citizen lawfully resident in Romania, or under international conventions to which Romania is a signatory if the crime was committed in Romania and the victim is a foreigner not resident in Romania.
The following losses are compensated:
- Hospitalization expenses and other medical expenses incurred by the victim;
- Damages resulting from the destruction or degradation of a victim’s assets or because the assets have been rendered useless or the victim has been dispossessed as a consequence of the crime;
- Loss of earnings as the result of a crime being committed.
For dependents of a victim who died, compensation is awarded for the following:
- Funeral expenses;
- Financial support that the victim’s dependents no longer receive.
- Financial compensation is awarded up to a ceiling equivalent to 10 minimum national gross salaries established for the year when the victim applied for compensation. Sums paid by the offender in civil damages and the compensation obtained by the victim from an insurance company for the loss caused by the crime are deducted from the amount of the compensation awarded by the state to the victim.
Financial compensation is not awarded if:
- It is established that the event did not occur, is not covered by criminal law or was committed in self-defense against attack by the victim;
- The victim is convicted of membership of an organized criminal group;
- The victim is convicted ultimately of attempted murder, first-degree murder, aggravated murder, grievous bodily harm, willful grievous bodily harm, rape or sexual intercourse with a minor or sexual abuse;
- The court finds extenuating circumstances exceeding the limits of self-defense against the victim’s attack or mitigating provocation.
The recipient of financial compensation or an advance on financial compensation must return the sum if one of the above cases is proved.
Obtaining compensation from the state when the offender is known
If the offender, who is liable for compensations to the victim, is known, financial compensation may be awarded to the victim if the following conditions are met:
- The victim applies for financial compensation within one year of enforcement of the final decision in which the criminal court awarded the civil damages or acquitted the defendant or stopped the trial, or when the prosecutor ordered that charges be dropped, that the case be closed or that the criminal prosecution should not be open;
- The offender is insolvent or has disappeared;
- The victim has not obtained full compensation from an insurance company for the injury suffered.
If the victim is unable to apply for compensation, the one-year period is calculated from the date when the incapacity ceased or when the decision to allow the civil action is declared irrevocable (if the court ordered the separation of the civil action from the criminal proceedings). Crime victims who are less than 18 years old or have been declared incapable of managing their own affairs are not required to bring a civil action.
Documents to be submitted:
- An application for financial compensation, which must include the victim's surname, given name, citizenship, date and place of birth, domicile or residence; the date, place and circumstances of the crime that caused the injury; the type of injury suffered as a result of the crime; the criminal prosecution body or the court of law and the date on which the case was reported to them; the number and date of the court decision or of the criminal prosecution file; the status of the spouse, child or other dependent of the deceased person; any criminal record; amounts paid as damages by the offender or compensation obtained by the victim from an insurance company for the injury caused by the commission of the crime; and the amount of compensation for which and application has been filed.
- Copies of the supporting documents for the information contained in the application and any other relevant documents in the victim's possession should be annexed to the application.
Obtaining compensation from the state when the offender is unknown
Victims may receive compensation in cases where the offender has not been identified or convicted. If the offender is unknown, the victim may apply for compensation within three years from the committing of the crime if he/she has not obtained full compensation for the injury suffered from an insurance company.
Obtaining an advance on compensation from the state
A crime victim may apply for an advance on the financial compensation up to an amount equivalent to 10 minimum national gross salaries established for the year when the victim applied for the advance from the committee responsible for awarding compensation to the victims of crime.
The advance may be requested by an application for compensation or by a separate request submitted no later than 30 days after the submission of the application for compensation. The advance is granted if the victim finds himself/herself in a precarious financial situation. The application for an advance on compensation is examined within 30 days by two judges on the committee responsible for awarding compensation to crime victims. If the compensation is refused in the end, the advance on compensation must be returned.
Physical evidence is very important in sexual assault cases, and can deteriorate as time passes. As such, victims should not change clothes, avoid bathing if possible, and have a physical exam at the first opportunity. You should take these steps even if you are unsure about whether to report the crime to police. If you decide to pursue a prosecution at a later time, these steps preserve evidence that will assist the prosecutor. A consular officer or after-hours duty officer from the U.S. Embassy may be able to accompany victims of sexual assault for the medical exam.
The legal definition of sexual assault and rape in Romania is set in Art. 197 of the Criminal code: “A sexual act of any nature with a person of a different gender or the same gender, by force or taking advantage of a victim’s inability to defend himself/herself or to express his/her will”. Spousal rape is considered a crime. The law provides that “a sexual act of any nature with a family member, by force or taking advantage of the victim’s inability to defend himself/herself or to express his/her consent” is punishable by a 3 – 10 year prison term.
Call 112 immediately if you think you are in immediate physical danger or if you or someone else has just been sexually abused or assaulted.
You should get medical attention to determine if you have been injured in any way and to discuss treatment and prevention options for pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases. Victims of rape or sexual assault who need immediate medical assistance should first obtain the necessary medical assistance and inform the doctor about the crime. Doctors are required to report the crime to the police. If inpatient care is necessary, Police officers can visit the victim at the hospital for initial statements. Request medical letters to attest to your presence at the hospital or clinic, on letterhead paper, dated, stamped with the doctor’s name stamp and bearing the hospital or clinic’s wet seal. If medical investigations were necessary (X-rays, ultrasound investigations), copies of the results should be requested as well. Emergency contraception (the morning-after pill) and HIV prophylaxis is available in Romania. The U.S. Embassy can provide you with a list of local doctors. The list is also available on the Embassy website at http://romania.usembassy.gov.
If immediate medical assistance is not required, the victim should go to the police to receive guidance and assistance. Police Officers will accompany the victim to the Institute of Legal Medicine for a specific examination. A forensic doctor will examine the victim and will prepare a sexual assault evidence kit to collect any DNA evidence recovered from the victim. The kit contains sterile swabs and receptacles to collect and preserve the evidence. If the suspect is not in police custody, the Medico-Legal Institute can preserve DNA samples for up to six months, to be matched with those of a suspect. This evidence retrieval and exam could take hours to complete. The police will then prepare a file of evidence with the complaint of rape or sexual abuse, your statement as to what happened and the medical certificate. A detective will be assigned to your case to insure continuity of the investigation.
It is important to seek help and continue to get help for as long as you need it. Sexual abuse or assault (rape) can happen to anyone and the victim is not to blame. Talk to the police or to a health professional, or call a local crisis center. These people can help you get medical treatment, cope with your emotions and take steps to punish the abuser.
It is a victim's right to refuse to participate in any part of the evidence collection process, regardless of what stage the procedure is in. However, a sexual assault kit is the victim's best way to document the attack and to help ensure prosecution of the attacker. Medical evidence is critical in rape cases. There are usually no witnesses to crimes of sexual violence and the medical expert provides important corroborating evidence. Corroborative evidence is generally required to prove rape. Correspondingly, it is very difficult to prosecute a case of sexual assault without evidence. Corroborative evidence could either be in the nature of marks of violence, or third party testimony. Files are completed on a case by case basis, as there is no set list of requirements. At the trial, magistrates take in consideration the moral character of the suspects, the victim’s credibility and collateral evidence. An indictment and conviction can generally be obtained only if solid evidence against the perpetrator exists.
Information on rape crisis centers and local resources:
The American Embassy assumes no responsibility or liability for the professional ability or reputation of or the quality of service provided by the persons or organization whose names appear in the list below. This information is provided merely as a convenience to American citizens in Romania and in no way constitutes an official recommendation by the U.S. Government or its representative.
- “SENSIBLU” Foundation – Bucharest - Counseling centers and shelters in cooperation with UNICEF, the Bucharest Police General Department and the Sensiblu pharmacy network, Tel: 021-301-7474. Counseling center: Str. Aleea Negru Voda Nr. 4 Bl. C3A Sc. 3 Et. 3 Ap. 43, Bucuresti, Tel/Fax: 021-311.46.36, Email: email@example.com.
- “ARTEMIS” Foundation/”Women Against Violence – Counseling offices and shelter, telephone helpline, telephone and in-person counseling, legal aid.
- Cluj Napoca – Center for counseling of victims of domestic violence and sexual abuse, shelter for women with children. Str. Baba Novac nr. 23/I, Tel: 0264-192.689, Tel/Fax: 0264-198.155., E –mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Baia Mare –Tel: 0262-250.770. E –mail: email@example.com.
- Apower/Association for Promotion of Romanian Women – Nongovernmental organization assisting women, including victims of domestic violence and sexual abuse, unemployed women, women from rural areas and women in prison. Services: psychological counseling, individual and group therapy, social work and telephone counseling in crisis situations to women in the Timisoara area and the western part of Romania. Tel/Fax: 0256-293.183, 0256-193.481. Center for Psychological Counseling, Social Assistance, and Intervention in Crisis Situations, “Blue Line” number: 0256-293.203.
U.S. rape and sexual assault hotline:
- The Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network (RAINN)
- 1-800-656-HOPE (656-4673)
24 hours a day, 7 days a week
252 Tenth Street, NE
Washington, DC 20002
The National Sexual Assault Online Hotline is a free, confidential, secure service that provides live help over the RAINN website to victims of sexual assault (whether their attack took place today or decades ago) , spouses, family members, and partners of victims, friends of victims.
- Information about local sexual assault victim assistance programs in the U.S. is also available from each state’s sexual assault coalition. Contact information for these state coalitions are listed at the website of the U.S. Department of Justice Violence Against Women Office, http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/vawo
Male rape crisis centers in Europe:
- 1(800)778-888 Dublin, Ireland
24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
- 0117-907-7100, Men As Survivors: Help Line Cardiff, UK
- 01962 848027, Winchester, UK -- For male survivors, calls answered by men and women
Domestic violence may take various forms, more or less visible, such as physical, psychological, sexual, economic and social violence. Violence very rarely manifests itself through a single incident. Violent persons display a series of repetitive and aggressive behaviors which combine punishing and aggressive acts of several types. Domestic violence has particular features which make it different from other types of violence manifested incidentally or in different contexts, and involves a specific dynamic or cycle based on the type of relationship existing between the victim and the abuser.
As a behavior, domestic violence has an instrumental character (the abuser controls the victim and the behaviors become functional and persistent if the result is the expected one), an intentional character (it occurs with the intent to control, dominate and to maintain power), and an acquired character (violence is not native but learned through imitation).
Physical violence consists in painful physical contacts, including physical intimidation of a victim most often demonstrated through the following types of behaviors: slapping, kicking, hitting with the fist, jostling, clothes tearing, hair pulling, scratching, striking, mutilation, bruising, concussions, fractures, burns, battering, hitting the victim against walls or furniture, throwing objects, using knives and guns, immobilization, and tying up or detaining a victim and/or leaving a victim in a dangerous place. Physical violence also includes destruction of assets belonging to the victim or that the two partners own and use together. The immediate effects of physical violence include bodily injuries, physical disabilities, and even death of the victim. In time, victims of domestic violence develop permanent suffering, psycho-somatic affections, eating disorders, and post-traumatic stress.
Psychological Violence (includes emotional and verbal abuse) manifests itself in the form of insults, criticism (referring to physical looks, intelligence, or the manner in which the victim performs her responsibilities in the family), threats (either against the victim, other family members or suicide threats of the perpetrator himself/herself), intimidation, emotional blackmail, inducing fear, continuous pressure, invoking terror, deprivation of food or sleep, and belittling in front of others. Psychological violence, which also qualifies as “emotional abuse”, is used to manipulate and control. Its effect is cumulative over time and it has serious long term consequences for the victim. Specialized literature indicates that this type of violence is a central factor for abuse within the family.
Sexual Violence/Sexual Abuse is defined by any sexual contact not desired by a partner or for which a partner did not express a valid consent. The concept of spousal rape exists if relationships between partners are official. Spousal rape is considered a crime. The law stipulates that “a sexual act of any nature with a family member, by force or taking advantage of the victim’s inability to defend himself/herself or to express his/her consent is punishable by 3 – 10 years prison term”.
Economic violence means a reduction of the victim’s resources and autonomy through control of his/her financial resources and access to money, personal items, food, transportation, telephone, and other forms of protection from which he/she could benefit. Economic violence is demonstrated through behaviors such as the abuser prohibiting the victim to get or keep a job, refusing to provide the victim with money for basic needs, and the lack of the victim’s involvement in decisions related to the administration of the family budget. A victim is kept in a state of dependency to the abuser.
Social violence is a form of passive psychological violence whereby the abuser controls the victim by isolating the victim from family or friends and/or monitoring the victim’s activities. The intended result is the interruption or erosion of social relations as well as limiting the victim’s access to information and assistance.
Domestic violence goes on in a cycle consisting of a phase during which tension grows during which the victim acts cautiously and tries different strategies in order to avoid a violent incident, the acute phase during which the abuser takes action, which may last between 2 and 24 hours (sometimes even for a week or more) and the relaxation phase, a calm period, during which the abuser shows gentleness and love towards the victim. This phase is just a vague truce in a war of threats and hitting.
These cycles evolve into a tighter spiral: the phases of tension become increasingly more frequent and last longer in time, violence becomes more and more threatening, and the gentleness phases become shorter or disappear completely.
Domestic violence has numerous negative and serious effects, both in the long and in the short terms. These effects have both direct (on the victim) and indirect (on persons witnessing violence acts) impacts. The victim may suffer bodily injuries, in various degrees of gravity that may often require medical care, serious and lasting health disorders amounting to physical disabilities, total or partial loss of the ability to work, transitory or permanent emotional disorders such as acute or permanent depression, anxiety, phobias, panic attacks, insomnias, nightmares, or post-traumatic syndrome (PTSD). In addition, depending on the duration and nature of the abuse, a victim may suffer from personality and behavioral disorders.
Romanian Law 217/2003 defines domestic violence as any physical or verbal action committed knowingly by a family member against another member of the same family, which causes physical, psychological, or sexual distress, or material loss. Preventing a woman from exercising fundamental rights and freedoms also constitutes an act of domestic violence. A family member is considered to be either the spouse or a close relative. The law also protects people who have relationships similar to those between spouses or parents and children, if confirmed by a social investigation.
Producing evidence in domestic violence cases can be difficult. Very often in practice, medical certificates attesting to injuries and witness testimonies are useful in obtaining prosecution.
The law provides certain safety measures that can be taken in cases of domestic violence. The abuser may be subjected to compulsory medical treatment or hospital care (Art. 113 and 114 of the Criminal Code). In the course of the criminal investigation or during the trial, the court may issue a protective order restricting the abuser’s access to the family residence for a limited duration. Protective orders are issued upon request from the victim, or “sua sponte” (absent the victim’s request) if there is sufficient evidence or probable cause that the abuser committed acts of violence that caused physical or psychological harm to another family member (acts of violence, cruelty or other actions that pose a public danger). Such measures terminate when the situation that justifies them disappears.
During criminal investigations, the prosecutor may notify the court so that the appropriate safety measures are taken if he/she finds that the defendant is in a situation that warrants the issuance of a protective order. During trial, the court may temporarily order the appropriate safety measure, but only after hearing from the defendant in the presence of the defense counsel and the prosecutor. The court oversees enforcement of temporary hospital care and also notifies the medical commission authorized to approve hospital care in cases of mentally ill persons and dangerous drug addicts. Temporary hospital care can only be lifted by the court based on the approval of the medical commission. A court’s decision confirming hospital care can be appealed separately. The appeal does not suspend enforcement.
The court orders such measures through a preliminary decision. One copy of this preliminary decision is handed to the parties and, if either party could not be reached, the preliminary decision is posted on the door of the domicile. This preliminary decision may be appealed separately within three days from delivery to the individuals present or from communication in case any of the parties could not be reached. The appeal does not suspend enforcement during court trials or once a conviction sentence is delivered.
Additional preventive measures (movement restrictions or preventive arrest) can be taken by courts to prevent the defendant from carrying out certain activities that might have a negative impact on criminal proceedings.
Free legal aid can be granted by courts or the local public administration, when the victim cannot afford legal representation. Free legal counseling is provided only for victims of domestic violence who have entered a shelter. While in the shelter, victims will be informed about the legal mechanisms through which he/she can protect assets that were left behind with the abuser. Free psychological assistance and counseling can also provided through the local courts’ victim assistance services, for up to three months.
In an emergency, dial the national emergency number 112. The National Center for Assistance and Protection of Domestic Violence Victims provides medical assistance, psychological assistance and legal counseling to victims of domestic violence and may be reached through the hotline 021-9833. Additional contact information for the center: Tel./Fax: 021-340.5011..
The National Center works with the local Social Services and Department for Protection of Children, non-governmental organizations and foundations. Attached is a list of local resources providing assistance for victims of domestic violence (shelters, counseling centers, legal aid, social services). (* see attachment on Social Services in Romania)
Victims of domestic violence can be admitted in the shelters on a walk-in basis in an emergency situation or upon recommendation from a social worker.
- National Center for Assistance and Protection of Victims of Domestic Violence, Hotline: 021-9833.
- Emergency Number (Police/Ambulance): 112.
- Legal Medicine Institute Bucharest – Calea Vitan – Barzesti nr. 9, Tel. 021-332.12.17.
U.S. crisis centers for victims of domestic violence:
The toll-free 24 hours a day /7 days a week National Domestic Violence Hotline, which provides crisis counseling and referrals in the United States, is 1-800-799-SAFE.
Information about local domestic violence victim assistance programs in the U.S. is also available from each state’s domestic violence coalition. Contact information for these state coalitions is listed at the website of the U.S. Department of Justice Violence Against Women Office, http://www.ovw.usdoj.gov/statedomestic.htm.
You should address the General Directorate of Social Assistance and Child Protection (Directia de Asistenta Sociale si Protectia Copilului) from the region in which you reside if you know of or suspect any of the following:
- A child that has been assaulted, abused, or badly treated within the family or out of it;
- A child that is obliged to work illegally;
- School age children that are not enrolled in school and/or work illegally;
- A child with seriously inappropriate and/or criminal behavior.
- A child who uses illegal drugs that you would like to receive counseling and assistance;
- A child who has been kidnapped or trafficked.
The child, a parent or a third party can request that authorized agencies take appropriate action to protect a child against any form of violence, including sexual violence, mental or physical abuse, maltreatment, exploitation, abandonment or negligence.
Employees of public or private institutions (medical doctors, educational staff, etc.) who come in contact with children by virtue of their profession and have suspicions about a possible case of child abuse, negligence, or bad treatment, have the obligation to immediately contact the General Directorate of Social Assistance and Child Protection.
If you encounter a child with any of these concerns who is also an American citizen, you should also contact the American Citizens Services office of the U.S. Embassy in Bucharest using the contact information at the top of this sheet.
Useful addresses and phone numbers:
National Authority for Child Protection, 7 Magheru Bd., Sector 1, Tel. 021-310.07.90, 021-312.03.71 or 021- 310.07.89.
Green Line for Child Protection: Tel. /Fax: 021-212-64.24 or 0740-111.468.
Toll-free emergency line: 0800-8.200.200.
General Directorate of Social Assistance and Child Protection Bucharest:
- Sector 1 – Bldv. Marshall Averescu nr. 17, Tel.: 021-223.42.86.
- Sector 2 – Str. Dimitrie Racovita nr. 22, Tel.: 021-314.47.94 or 021-310.24.17.
- Sector 3 – Str. Vasile Lucaci nr. 34, Tel/Fax: 021-321.63.62 or 021-320.98.64.
- Sector 4 – Blvd. Metalurgiei nr. 89, Tel/Fax: 021-461.04.81 or 021-460.10.30.
- Sector 5 - Blvd Regina Elisabeta nr. 29-31, Tel: 021-315.94.12 or 021-310.17.31.
- Sector 6 – Str. Drumul Taberei nr. 18, Tel.: 021-745.62.29 or 021-745.70.04.
Local resources for abused children (also refer to the section on Domestic Violence):
“Save the Children Foundation” has seven “Counseling Centers for Children and Family” in Bucharest, Iasi, Suceava, Timisoara, Targu Mures, Resita and Targoviste. These centers provide public services for child victims of abuse, neglect or exploitation, and for their parents. The services include emergency intervention and protection measures for child victims of abuse, psychological counseling and treatment, and legal counseling.
Sensiblu Foundation – “CASA BLU” provides the following services with the help of UNICEF, the Bucharest Police General Department and the Sensiblu Pharmacy Network for Abused Parents and their Children: social services, psychological and legal counseling, shelter, food, clothes, medicines, and support in finding a job and a new home, Tel: 021-301.74.74. Counseling center: Str. Aleea Negru Voda Nr. 4, Bl. C3A, Apt. 43, Sector 3, Bucharest, Tel/Fax: 021.311.46.36, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
The toll-free 24 hours a day /7 days a week crisis counseling and referral line for families and friends of those who have died by violence is 1-888-818-POMC. It is operated by a non-profit organization, POMC, Inc., (The National Organization of Parents of Murdered Children) which also has information on the Internet at http://www.pomc.org