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Pilgrim stabbed and attacked at knife point after Sacavem, was able to escape

AB_notifying

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Walked Camino Frances'15 and Camino del Norte'16. Began Camino Portugues '20.
Hello everyone,

This is a difficult story, but as it happened only three days ago, it is important for people to be aware and I would appreciate help (the report is filed with the police, but was seemingly not taken very seriously) with further resources or steps to take.

The short version is: on September 16, 2020, at 6:30pm, my friend and I, two female pilgrims, were attacked on the Camino on a field after Alpriarte, below the E1 highway, at knifepoint. I was in a chokehold and the attacker had the knife to my throat while dragging me into the field. He was carrying duct tape. As a result of intense physical struggle, on and off the ground as I fought the attacker, with my friend rushing towards him to help me, she was stabbed in the wrist by the attacker. The gushing blood startled the attacker, which allowed us to run away and seek help and get an ambulance and the police.

The police only took a vague report without asking many questions, and we were focused on getting to the hospital. The next day, we returned to the police station hoping to follow up with the help of our accommodation hosts, and learned another local girl had been attacked this subsequent day (9/17). The police made us wait until they finished dinner to be allowed to enter the station, after which we waited another hour. Then a report was filed after a long hour of us reporting our biographical data, but few questions about the attack were asked. The investigation is not active. That's why I am posting the event here to notify the pilgrim community of this occurrence, in hope to raise awareness and improve prevention and support efforts for such crimes.

We made the decision to stop walking this Camino in order to process the trauma. I completed two Caminos in Spain before and love the Camino deeply; I hope to continue drawing strength from it.

I am including the full account below for record keeping and in hope anyone has advice about what more can be done with this information.

----

On Wednesday September 16th, 2020, B (female friend, name redacted) and I (also female, both of us 27 years of age) set out to walk the Camino de Santiago from Lisbon. We had planned for a long walking day of 35km, ending in Vila Franca de Xira. We left Lisbon at 10:15am, retrieved our credentials from the Sé Cathedral, and began walking out of Lisbon, following the yellow arrows. Gradually, we moved north from the industrial and development zones along the Tagus River and reached more rural townships as the day progressed.

By 6pm, we were following the inland route in a valley west of Savacem, and passed through a very small village called Granja, then another called Alpriarte and were following the dirt trail along the fields. We were seen by various people along the small towns we passed, including a gathering of men in Granja, though this might be of no relevance to the assault.

We crossed R. Combatentes de Grande Guerra, a road with many cars waiting to cross a tunnel going under the E1 national highway. The Camino path continued in a field to the left, parallel to the highway, which was built at a height so that it was not possible for the cars to see the path.

B had planned to take a call from her friend, and asked me if I minded that she walked ahead while she talked. She said she wouldn’t be ahead too far, and would keep me in visible distance. There was another area of dense bamboo (corn stalk?) bushes with a little wooden bridge. B was only a short distance ahead of me, but I momentarily lost sight of her as she walked across that bridge. Right before I was about to cross the bamboo bush/ bridge area myself, I saw a man to my left, coming out of the bushes. He was wearing a blue facemask, long dark pants, and a black t-shirt with colorful neon (blue, green, pink) graphics. He had brown skin and short black hair, but his ethnicity was ambiguous. He looked to be about 30. I walked quickly around the bend. Thankfully, B was sitting on a stone platform there right behind the tall green stalks, still on the phone with her friend. I told her “there is a man behind us. This all took the course of just a few seconds, and I knew the man would be coming up right behind us. We moved just a few meters away from the bridge/bush area and stood aside so he could pass us on the trail.

The next moment was perhaps the most terrible of the attack, when I saw that the man was a mere few steps behind me, making eye contact with me and taking fast big steps straight towards me with an intention of harm. In the next few seconds, the man put me in a chokehold, with his left arm around my neck, and B and I both screamed. In his right arm he had a knife, with a small black handle and a pointy, double-edged blade, which he brought to my neck. He did not ask for money or mention us giving him belongings; he told B to get down on the ground. B was standing a few meters away, telling him to put down the knife; it was clear that she was pleading or negotiating, but not getting down on the ground, and he repeated the command, increasingly agitated. I said: “I’ll give you money,” in hope that this was what he was after, but the man ignored that statement, and commanded again for B to get down on the ground. He might already have been dragging me off the path and into the bushes then, but I cannot remember. I just know that, in my head, his command to B made me think of me or the two of us being raped and killed in the bushes, and that this was not a mugging where the man would take our possessions and leave. I started struggling intensely, screaming at the top of my lungs and trying to get out of the chokehold, and the man made a movement with his knife towards my chest and ordered me to stop screaming with alarm in his voice. He was speaking this in some English with an unknown accent. I continued struggling, biting him. This is when he started dragging me violently towards the field, my head still in a chokehold, and I was screaming wildly and trying to hit and push him with all my might, and he stopped dragging me to instead try to force me down to the ground, still with me in a chokehold, leaning his weight on me, and I stumbled to my knees and was halfway on the ground but was trying to get back up at all costs. My backpack felt incredibly heavy, and getting up was incredibly difficult as he had his weight on me, and I must have succeeded in half-getting up just to be pushed down again a few times. I felt incredibly hopeless. I remember pushing him and hitting him but it felt like it was with so little force and effect that it was useless, but i just kept screaming no at the top of my lungs while pushing him. At one point I must have been out of the chokehold because I remember him somewhat facing me, swinging a fist to my face. It was hard to register where B was during this physical struggle as I was so focused on not being pushed down to the ground, but I knew she was near, and at one point I remember seeing her to my left as I pushed the man, and I think for a moment he did stumble backward but he did not fall to the ground but came back for me and was pushing me down to the ground again. But this is about when I sensed the situation changing, and the man letting me go and taking a step backwards and B screaming for me to run. I stumbled away when I was freed, and saw that the man was stepping away from B in some manner. B started running towards me and I started running again, and saw the man was not following us, though he was still standing at the spot. B was yelling at me that she was hurt, and that is when I registered the blood on her hand and legs, and she lifted her wrist, which had duct tape around it and was bloodied.

Thankfully a road was only a minute away and we waved to two passing cars for help, B pointing to her blood, but the cars did not stop for us. There was a car repair garage of some kind across this country road, and we ran there, and I was praying it’d be open and there’d be people there, and thankfully there were. We ran in shouting for them to call the police and ambulance. When the ambulance was finally here and the medics came over and took B to the back of the ambulance. There was one police man here, taking notes that one of the young men helping us who spoke the best English was translating, asking for the physical descriptions of the man. I wasn’t paying much attention to the police, he took some notes for probably fives minutes and asked for B’s passport and where we were staying tonight, but he wasn’t asking too many relevant questions related to any investigation, and I remember thinking he was just taking notes for the record and doing little else. But I wasn’t thinking too much about this at the time. Another man had joined the crowd and was a middle aged man in running shoes, and perhaps he had been on the path some minutes behind us and had now come upon this commotion, and when he heard my physical description of the man he said he thought he’d seen him on a bicycle, perhaps biking away after the attack, but I am not sure the police man took note.


We still had the attacker’s backpack strap (ripped off during the struggle) and duct tape (that he’d pulled from his pants), because B had picked them up before running away. We had little hopes that the police would use this evidence, but the next day, we discussed wanting to follow-up if only for our own mental peace. At around 8pm that night, we talked to our hosts about wanting to re-contact the police and needing their help with translation. Our hosts called the Vila Franca police; they said they knew nothing of the incident, but we could come to the station tonight if we wanted. We drove to the station at 8:30pm, with our hosts talking across the gate to a police man standing guard. The policeman asked us about the physical description of the man, still across the gate and with no sign of letting us in and making a statement. When he heard the description, he told our hosts that a young woman, a school girl, had been attacked at 6pm this night (9/17), just a couple hours prior, by a man fitting a similar description. He said it was therefore important we come in and give our account, but said the policemen were eating dinner and the dinner shouldn’t be interrupted at the end of a workday, so we should come back at 10pm. I was shocked and angered by this, and shaken by the news that another woman had been attacked.

At 10 pm we returned to the station and were let in the gates, and sat in the waiting area for about 50 minutes, while nothing at all was happening in the station and various policemen were just ambling about. We could see the chief or an officer through a glass office, and after nearly an hour he finally waved us in. He hardly asked us any relevant questions about the attack, and spent the next hour typing down our passport information, parents’ names, address etc for the record. He asked us whether we wanted to press charges, though we’d need to be in the country and able to be summoned to court for that, and we said we’d come in to give an account of what happened so the police could be aware and take action, not for legal proceedings. In the end, the chief spent an hour typing up the report, with only minimal details, many of which were wrong, including the date of attack as 9/17 and not 9/16 (we took a picture of the police report, he let us, nearly laughing).

We left the police station exhausted and demoralized, but steadfast that it was worth it if only to get something actually on the record, and get the fact that the events happened in the police’s head, at least. It was difficult to think about the man, if he indeed was the person who attacked the school girl, being still active and on the limb. But we were grateful for our hosts and their help in the situation. We never gave the police the backpack strap or duct tape because when we took them out, the chief nearly laughed again and made it clear they did not want them.

The next day we left Vila Franca, as we decided not to continue our walk.
 

VNwalking

Wandering in big circles
Camino(s) past & future
Francés ('14/'15)
San Olav/CF ('16)
Baztanés/CF ('17)
Ingles ('18)
Vasco/CF/Invierno ('19)
@AB_notifying, what an absolutely horrible experience - not only the attack, but also the police indifference. Unconscionable. I am so sorry this happened to you both and hope you are in a place that feels safe, where you can begin to process what has happened.

You did the right thing in reporting and now letting others know about this. Someone here might have an idea about how to get some officials to take this seriously. Certainly bad publicity might move a few people to get off thier duffs.
 

Iriebabel

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances 2018
Camino Del Norte & part of Lebaniego 2019
You and your walking mates have amazing courage and you survived a brutal attack. It is very sad that you were not taken seriously and demoralized by local Authorities. I wish you all the best and hope your friend’s injury is not too serious and gains full recovery. Unfortunately the emotional trauma will remain for some time but I hope This too will improve in time. Stay strong and my prayers and thoughts are with you and your friends For a safe journey home.

I seem to remember on here there is an association of Portuguese albergue owners and I am sure @peregrina2000 and other mods will pass this information on to said association. My wish is maybe they can facilitate some communication with police as to their actions in regards to this incident and any other related to the same assailant
 

kazrobbo

Tassie Kaz
Camino(s) past & future
CF 2012
CP 2015
St Olavs Norway 2016
88T Japan 2017
PWC/VF 2019
Israel 2020 X
Wales CP 21?
KK?
VdlP?
Hello everyone,

This is a difficult story, but as it happened only three days ago, it is important for people to be aware and I would appreciate help (the report is filed with the police, but was seemingly not taken very seriously) with further resources or steps to take.

The short version is: on September 16, 2020, at 6:30pm, my friend and I, two female pilgrims, were attacked on the Camino on a field after Alpriarte, below the E1 highway, at knifepoint. I was in a chokehold and the attacker had the knife to my throat while dragging me into the field. He was carrying duct tape. As a result of intense physical struggle, on and off the ground as I fought the attacker, with my friend rushing towards him to help me, she was stabbed in the wrist by the attacker. The gushing blood startled the attacker, which allowed us to run away and seek help and get an ambulance and the police.

The police only took a vague report without asking many questions, and we were focused on getting to the hospital. The next day, we returned to the police station hoping to follow up with the help of our accommodation hosts, and learned another local girl had been attacked this subsequent day (9/17). The police made us wait until they finished dinner to be allowed to enter the station, after which we waited another hour. Then a report was filed after a long hour of us reporting our biographical data, but few questions about the attack were asked. The investigation is not active. That's why I am posting the event here to notify the pilgrim community of this occurrence, in hope to raise awareness and improve prevention and support efforts for such crimes.

We made the decision to stop walking this Camino in order to process the trauma. I completed two Caminos in Spain before and love the Camino deeply; I hope to continue drawing strength from it.

I am including the full account below for record keeping and in hope anyone has advice about what more can be done with this information.

----

On Wednesday September 16th, 2020, B (female friend, name redacted) and I (also female, both of us 27 years of age) set out to walk the Camino de Santiago from Lisbon. We had planned for a long walking day of 35km, ending in Vila Franca de Xira. We left Lisbon at 10:15am, retrieved our credentials from the Sé Cathedral, and began walking out of Lisbon, following the yellow arrows. Gradually, we moved north from the industrial and development zones along the Tagus River and reached more rural townships as the day progressed.

By 6pm, we were following the inland route in a valley west of Savacem, and passed through a very small village called Granja, then another called Alpriarte and were following the dirt trail along the fields. We were seen by various people along the small towns we passed, including a gathering of men in Granja, though this might be of no relevance to the assault.

We crossed R. Combatentes de Grande Guerra, a road with many cars waiting to cross a tunnel going under the E1 national highway. The Camino path continued in a field to the left, parallel to the highway, which was built at a height so that it was not possible for the cars to see the path.

B had planned to take a call from her friend, and asked me if I minded that she walked ahead while she talked. She said she wouldn’t be ahead too far, and would keep me in visible distance. There was another area of dense bamboo (corn stalk?) bushes with a little wooden bridge. B was only a short distance ahead of me, but I momentarily lost sight of her as she walked across that bridge. Right before I was about to cross the bamboo bush/ bridge area myself, I saw a man to my left, coming out of the bushes. He was wearing a blue facemask, long dark pants, and a black t-shirt with colorful neon (blue, green, pink) graphics. He had brown skin and short black hair, but his ethnicity was ambiguous. He looked to be about 30. I walked quickly around the bend. Thankfully, B was sitting on a stone platform there right behind the tall green stalks, still on the phone with her friend. I told her “there is a man behind us. This all took the course of just a few seconds, and I knew the man would be coming up right behind us. We moved just a few meters away from the bridge/bush area and stood aside so he could pass us on the trail.

The next moment was perhaps the most terrible of the attack, when I saw that the man was a mere few steps behind me, making eye contact with me and taking fast big steps straight towards me with an intention of harm. In the next few seconds, the man put me in a chokehold, with his left arm around my neck, and B and I both screamed. In his right arm he had a knife, with a small black handle and a pointy, double-edged blade, which he brought to my neck. He did not ask for money or mention us giving him belongings; he told B to get down on the ground. B was standing a few meters away, telling him to put down the knife; it was clear that she was pleading or negotiating, but not getting down on the ground, and he repeated the command, increasingly agitated. I said: “I’ll give you money,” in hope that this was what he was after, but the man ignored that statement, and commanded again for B to get down on the ground. He might already have been dragging me off the path and into the bushes then, but I cannot remember. I just know that, in my head, his command to B made me think of me or the two of us being raped and killed in the bushes, and that this was not a mugging where the man would take our possessions and leave. I started struggling intensely, screaming at the top of my lungs and trying to get out of the chokehold, and the man made a movement with his knife towards my chest and ordered me to stop screaming with alarm in his voice. He was speaking this in some English with an unknown accent. I continued struggling, biting him. This is when he started dragging me violently towards the field, my head still in a chokehold, and I was screaming wildly and trying to hit and push him with all my might, and he stopped dragging me to instead try to force me down to the ground, still with me in a chokehold, leaning his weight on me, and I stumbled to my knees and was halfway on the ground but was trying to get back up at all costs. My backpack felt incredibly heavy, and getting up was incredibly difficult as he had his weight on me, and I must have succeeded in half-getting up just to be pushed down again a few times. I felt incredibly hopeless. I remember pushing him and hitting him but it felt like it was with so little force and effect that it was useless, but i just kept screaming no at the top of my lungs while pushing him. At one point I must have been out of the chokehold because I remember him somewhat facing me, swinging a fist to my face. It was hard to register where B was during this physical struggle as I was so focused on not being pushed down to the ground, but I knew she was near, and at one point I remember seeing her to my left as I pushed the man, and I think for a moment he did stumble backward but he did not fall to the ground but came back for me and was pushing me down to the ground again. But this is about when I sensed the situation changing, and the man letting me go and taking a step backwards and B screaming for me to run. I stumbled away when I was freed, and saw that the man was stepping away from B in some manner. B started running towards me and I started running again, and saw the man was not following us, though he was still standing at the spot. B was yelling at me that she was hurt, and that is when I registered the blood on her hand and legs, and she lifted her wrist, which had duct tape around it and was bloodied.

Thankfully a road was only a minute away and we waved to two passing cars for help, B pointing to her blood, but the cars did not stop for us. There was a car repair garage of some kind across this country road, and we ran there, and I was praying it’d be open and there’d be people there, and thankfully there were. We ran in shouting for them to call the police and ambulance. When the ambulance was finally here and the medics came over and took B to the back of the ambulance. There was one police man here, taking notes that one of the young men helping us who spoke the best English was translating, asking for the physical descriptions of the man. I wasn’t paying much attention to the police, he took some notes for probably fives minutes and asked for B’s passport and where we were staying tonight, but he wasn’t asking too many relevant questions related to any investigation, and I remember thinking he was just taking notes for the record and doing little else. But I wasn’t thinking too much about this at the time. Another man had joined the crowd and was a middle aged man in running shoes, and perhaps he had been on the path some minutes behind us and had now come upon this commotion, and when he heard my physical description of the man he said he thought he’d seen him on a bicycle, perhaps biking away after the attack, but I am not sure the police man took note.


We still had the attacker’s backpack strap (ripped off during the struggle) and duct tape (that he’d pulled from his pants), because B had picked them up before running away. We had little hopes that the police would use this evidence, but the next day, we discussed wanting to follow-up if only for our own mental peace. At around 8pm that night, we talked to our hosts about wanting to re-contact the police and needing their help with translation. Our hosts called the Vila Franca police; they said they knew nothing of the incident, but we could come to the station tonight if we wanted. We drove to the station at 8:30pm, with our hosts talking across the gate to a police man standing guard. The policeman asked us about the physical description of the man, still across the gate and with no sign of letting us in and making a statement. When he heard the description, he told our hosts that a young woman, a school girl, had been attacked at 6pm this night (9/17), just a couple hours prior, by a man fitting a similar description. He said it was therefore important we come in and give our account, but said the policemen were eating dinner and the dinner shouldn’t be interrupted at the end of a workday, so we should come back at 10pm. I was shocked and angered by this, and shaken by the news that another woman had been attacked.

At 10 pm we returned to the station and were let in the gates, and sat in the waiting area for about 50 minutes, while nothing at all was happening in the station and various policemen were just ambling about. We could see the chief or an officer through a glass office, and after nearly an hour he finally waved us in. He hardly asked us any relevant questions about the attack, and spent the next hour typing down our passport information, parents’ names, address etc for the record. He asked us whether we wanted to press charges, though we’d need to be in the country and able to be summoned to court for that, and we said we’d come in to give an account of what happened so the police could be aware and take action, not for legal proceedings. In the end, the chief spent an hour typing up the report, with only minimal details, many of which were wrong, including the date of attack as 9/17 and not 9/16 (we took a picture of the police report, he let us, nearly laughing).

We left the police station exhausted and demoralized, but steadfast that it was worth it if only to get something actually on the record, and get the fact that the events happened in the police’s head, at least. It was difficult to think about the man, if he indeed was the person who attacked the school girl, being still active and on the limb. But we were grateful for our hosts and their help in the situation. We never gave the police the backpack strap or duct tape because when we took them out, the chief nearly laughed again and made it clear they did not want them.

The next day we left Vila Franca, as we decided not to continue our walk.
The worst nightmare of every female walker...
I'm so glad you & your companion had the physical strength to fight off your attacker. Unfortunately following that ordeal you then needed a different type of strength to report & have the offence taken seriously.
As it seems no resolution (assailant apprehended or brought to justice) will be forthcoming, strength will be required yet again to process & recover from your trauma.
Healing thoughts and best wishes are with you both.
👣 🌏
 

peregrina2000

Moderator
Staff member
Hello, AB,
Appropriate words are hard to find, but I am both saddened by this report and shocked by the police behavior you describe. At the same time, though, I am very glad that you are physically ok. The toll on your spirit and psyche, I bet, will be far more difficult to heal.

I have contacted the Lisbon Caminho Association, Rodrigo of the Fátima Association, and Mario of Santarém Hostel. I am sure we will be hearing from them here, but if you would like me to put you in direct contact, please just PM me (start a conversation).

Laurie
 

Yolan

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances ( 2015) camino portuques (2017)
Wat vreselijk wat ook jullie is overkomen. Ik ben een Nederlandse vrouw en ik denk dat ik op precies die plek 4 jaar geleden ben besprongen door een donkere man met bivakmuts. Ik liep de Camino alleen. Ik werd tegen de grond geslagen en hij schopte me en sloeg me. Ik ben beroofd mishandeld verkracht en bloot achter gelaten. Ik heb ook gevochten voor mn leven, maar werd zo mishandeld en geslagen dat ik me later rustig heb gehouden. Ik kreeg ook een mes op mn keel. Ik heb ook hulp gevraagd bij die garage. Werd jullie niet gezegd dat dit eerder is gebeurd? Ik zal hier niet het hele verhaal vertellen, maar mijn leven is voorgoed veranderd. Ik probeer er het beste van te maken. Ik zou graag in contact willen komen met jullie. Misschien kan ik helpen.....
ik wens jullie het allerbeste.

Google translate:

How terrible what happened to you too. I am a Dutch woman and I think I was jumped at exactly that spot 4 years ago by a man wearing a balaclava. I walked the Camino alone. I was knocked to the ground and he kicked me and hit me. I was robbed, abused, raped and left naked. I also fought for my life, but was so abused and beaten that I kept calm later. I also got a knife on my throat. I also asked for help from that garage. Were you not told this has happened before? I won't tell the whole story here, but my life has changed forever. I try to make the best of it. I would like to get in touch with you. Maybe I can help .....
I wish you the best.
 

lt56ny

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF(2012) Le Puy/CF (2015) Portugues (2017) Norte (2018) CF (2019) VDLP?
I am so sorry and incensed about what has happened to you and also the story that has been told by Yolan. As a father of two adult daughters, the loves of my life I am at a complete loss of what to say. All I know is that this is not your fault, any of you and the police involved should be fired from their jobs. I just pray that you will all find some healing and peace soon. Remember you. are all loved by your families, friends and all Pilgrims.
 

mla1

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF (2000); Ch St. Giles (2013); Le Puy to SJPP (May/June 2015); vdlp 2016
@AB I am so sorry that you and your friend experienced this. I hope you are exceptionally proud of your ability to fight back. You stopped an attack, you protected each other, you reported to the police and to people here. Your instincts are good and you have shown a tremendous amount of strength. Best wishes to you both.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Frances(2006) Portugues(2013)
San Salvador (2017) Ingles (2019)
Wat vreselijk wat ook jullie is overkomen. Ik ben een Nederlandse vrouw en ik denk dat ik op precies die plek 4 jaar geleden ben besprongen door een donkere man met bivakmuts. Ik liep de Camino alleen. Ik werd tegen de grond geslagen en hij schopte me en sloeg me. Ik ben beroofd mishandeld verkracht en bloot achter gelaten. Ik heb ook gevochten voor mn leven, maar werd zo mishandeld en geslagen dat ik me later rustig heb gehouden. Ik kreeg ook een mes op mn keel. Ik heb ook hulp gevraagd bij die garage. Werd jullie niet gezegd dat dit eerder is gebeurd? Ik zal hier niet het hele verhaal vertellen, maar mijn leven is voorgoed veranderd. Ik probeer er het beste van te maken. Ik zou graag in contact willen komen met jullie. Misschien kan ik helpen.....
ik wens jullie het allerbeste.

Google translate:

How terrible what happened to you too. I am a Dutch woman and I think I was jumped at exactly that spot 4 years ago by a man wearing a balaclava. I walked the Camino alone. I was knocked to the ground and he kicked me and hit me. I was robbed, abused, raped and left naked. I also fought for my life, but was so abused and beaten that I kept calm later. I also got a knife on my throat. I also asked for help from that garage. Were you not told this has happened before? I won't tell the whole story here, but my life has changed forever. I try to make the best of it. I would like to get in touch with you. Maybe I can help .....
I wish you the best.
I don't know what to say to you, I am so sorry. You can send a private message to the original poster. You click on her avatar and start a conversation. I am sure you will help each other.
 

AndreaCT

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
2016 CF
2017 CF and Finnisterre
2019 CP and Muxia
AB, your friend and Yolan,
All I can do is sit here and weep. I am so, so sorry and so, so angry that you or anyone has to endure such a horrific event. I pray for your physical and emotional healing and that you will find all of the support that you need as you grieve and that you will feel safe again. I pray that the man will be caught and justice be done so that no one else has to endure what you have gone through.
 

Rex

One Step at a Time
Camino(s) past & future
SJPdP to Santiago (2013)
Lisboa to Santiago (2018)
via Francigena (1st Half ~ 6/2021)
So sorry this happened to you. I walked alone through this area in 2018 and felt somewhat unsafe as a 62 year old male. Keeping you in our thoughts and prayers as you process this horrific trauma, but glad you were strong and survived. Grace and peace in the weeks and months ahead as you recover.
 

doctorherman

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances*3, Ingles, Primitivo, Finisterre, Baztan, and Portuguese
Sorry to read this.
This is a Camino lesson that is very harsh indeed. When I walked from Lisbon I thought there were a few areas on the Portugues that didn't feel safe or quite right. That whole section of about 3 hours from Sacavem until the main road before the boardwalk part felt a bit sketchey and there were more later on when going though woods and along roads that were being travelled by prostitutes and their undesirable clients.
 

Wendy Werneth

Pilgrim
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Francés from SJPdP (2017)
Camino Primitivo (2018)
Camino de Madrid (2019)
Kumano Kodo (2019)
@AB_notifying , your friend B and @Yolan , my heart breaks for all of you. You have shown incredible strength, physically, mentally and emotionally. Thank you so much for sharing your story. This must have been very difficult to write, but you have done a great service to your fellow pilgrims. I truly hope that this community is able to make a big enough outcry to force the police into action so that this man is brought to justice and doesn't harm anyone else.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Frances in 2016, Portuguese in 2017, and Frances again in 2018. Madrid to Ponferrada 2019.
Thank you for posting. I am so deeply sorry and sadenned by your experience. I am grateful for your strength and courage to fend off the attacker as well as to attempt to get it reported properly to the authorities. I hope that the contact with the Portuguese Camino Association will bring some pressure to the powers-that-be and bring this man to Justice. Thank you also to the Dutch woman who shared her circumstance. I don't know what to say. I feel very powerless regarding this. May the goodness, love and blessings inherently within the Camino bring you comfort and healing.
 

nathanael

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances, Norte, Plata,
Hello everyone,

This is a difficult story, but as it happened only three days ago, it is important for people to be aware and I would appreciate help (the report is filed with the police, but was seemingly not taken very seriously) with further resources or steps to take.

The short version is: on September 16, 2020, at 6:30pm, my friend and I, two female pilgrims, were attacked on the Camino on a field after Alpriarte, below the E1 highway, at knifepoint. I was in a chokehold and the attacker had the knife to my throat while dragging me into the field. He was carrying duct tape. As a result of intense physical struggle, on and off the ground as I fought the attacker, with my friend rushing towards him to help me, she was stabbed in the wrist by the attacker. The gushing blood startled the attacker, which allowed us to run away and seek help and get an ambulance and the police.

The police only took a vague report without asking many questions, and we were focused on getting to the hospital. The next day, we returned to the police station hoping to follow up with the help of our accommodation hosts, and learned another local girl had been attacked this subsequent day (9/17). The police made us wait until they finished dinner to be allowed to enter the station, after which we waited another hour. Then a report was filed after a long hour of us reporting our biographical data, but few questions about the attack were asked. The investigation is not active. That's why I am posting the event here to notify the pilgrim community of this occurrence, in hope to raise awareness and improve prevention and support efforts for such crimes.

We made the decision to stop walking this Camino in order to process the trauma. I completed two Caminos in Spain before and love the Camino deeply; I hope to continue drawing strength from it.

I am including the full account below for record keeping and in hope anyone has advice about what more can be done with this information.

----

On Wednesday September 16th, 2020, B (female friend, name redacted) and I (also female, both of us 27 years of age) set out to walk the Camino de Santiago from Lisbon. We had planned for a long walking day of 35km, ending in Vila Franca de Xira. We left Lisbon at 10:15am, retrieved our credentials from the Sé Cathedral, and began walking out of Lisbon, following the yellow arrows. Gradually, we moved north from the industrial and development zones along the Tagus River and reached more rural townships as the day progressed.

By 6pm, we were following the inland route in a valley west of Savacem, and passed through a very small village called Granja, then another called Alpriarte and were following the dirt trail along the fields. We were seen by various people along the small towns we passed, including a gathering of men in Granja, though this might be of no relevance to the assault.

We crossed R. Combatentes de Grande Guerra, a road with many cars waiting to cross a tunnel going under the E1 national highway. The Camino path continued in a field to the left, parallel to the highway, which was built at a height so that it was not possible for the cars to see the path.

B had planned to take a call from her friend, and asked me if I minded that she walked ahead while she talked. She said she wouldn’t be ahead too far, and would keep me in visible distance. There was another area of dense bamboo (corn stalk?) bushes with a little wooden bridge. B was only a short distance ahead of me, but I momentarily lost sight of her as she walked across that bridge. Right before I was about to cross the bamboo bush/ bridge area myself, I saw a man to my left, coming out of the bushes. He was wearing a blue facemask, long dark pants, and a black t-shirt with colorful neon (blue, green, pink) graphics. He had brown skin and short black hair, but his ethnicity was ambiguous. He looked to be about 30. I walked quickly around the bend. Thankfully, B was sitting on a stone platform there right behind the tall green stalks, still on the phone with her friend. I told her “there is a man behind us. This all took the course of just a few seconds, and I knew the man would be coming up right behind us. We moved just a few meters away from the bridge/bush area and stood aside so he could pass us on the trail.

The next moment was perhaps the most terrible of the attack, when I saw that the man was a mere few steps behind me, making eye contact with me and taking fast big steps straight towards me with an intention of harm. In the next few seconds, the man put me in a chokehold, with his left arm around my neck, and B and I both screamed. In his right arm he had a knife, with a small black handle and a pointy, double-edged blade, which he brought to my neck. He did not ask for money or mention us giving him belongings; he told B to get down on the ground. B was standing a few meters away, telling him to put down the knife; it was clear that she was pleading or negotiating, but not getting down on the ground, and he repeated the command, increasingly agitated. I said: “I’ll give you money,” in hope that this was what he was after, but the man ignored that statement, and commanded again for B to get down on the ground. He might already have been dragging me off the path and into the bushes then, but I cannot remember. I just know that, in my head, his command to B made me think of me or the two of us being raped and killed in the bushes, and that this was not a mugging where the man would take our possessions and leave. I started struggling intensely, screaming at the top of my lungs and trying to get out of the chokehold, and the man made a movement with his knife towards my chest and ordered me to stop screaming with alarm in his voice. He was speaking this in some English with an unknown accent. I continued struggling, biting him. This is when he started dragging me violently towards the field, my head still in a chokehold, and I was screaming wildly and trying to hit and push him with all my might, and he stopped dragging me to instead try to force me down to the ground, still with me in a chokehold, leaning his weight on me, and I stumbled to my knees and was halfway on the ground but was trying to get back up at all costs. My backpack felt incredibly heavy, and getting up was incredibly difficult as he had his weight on me, and I must have succeeded in half-getting up just to be pushed down again a few times. I felt incredibly hopeless. I remember pushing him and hitting him but it felt like it was with so little force and effect that it was useless, but i just kept screaming no at the top of my lungs while pushing him. At one point I must have been out of the chokehold because I remember him somewhat facing me, swinging a fist to my face. It was hard to register where B was during this physical struggle as I was so focused on not being pushed down to the ground, but I knew she was near, and at one point I remember seeing her to my left as I pushed the man, and I think for a moment he did stumble backward but he did not fall to the ground but came back for me and was pushing me down to the ground again. But this is about when I sensed the situation changing, and the man letting me go and taking a step backwards and B screaming for me to run. I stumbled away when I was freed, and saw that the man was stepping away from B in some manner. B started running towards me and I started running again, and saw the man was not following us, though he was still standing at the spot. B was yelling at me that she was hurt, and that is when I registered the blood on her hand and legs, and she lifted her wrist, which had duct tape around it and was bloodied.

Thankfully a road was only a minute away and we waved to two passing cars for help, B pointing to her blood, but the cars did not stop for us. There was a car repair garage of some kind across this country road, and we ran there, and I was praying it’d be open and there’d be people there, and thankfully there were. We ran in shouting for them to call the police and ambulance. When the ambulance was finally here and the medics came over and took B to the back of the ambulance. There was one police man here, taking notes that one of the young men helping us who spoke the best English was translating, asking for the physical descriptions of the man. I wasn’t paying much attention to the police, he took some notes for probably fives minutes and asked for B’s passport and where we were staying tonight, but he wasn’t asking too many relevant questions related to any investigation, and I remember thinking he was just taking notes for the record and doing little else. But I wasn’t thinking too much about this at the time. Another man had joined the crowd and was a middle aged man in running shoes, and perhaps he had been on the path some minutes behind us and had now come upon this commotion, and when he heard my physical description of the man he said he thought he’d seen him on a bicycle, perhaps biking away after the attack, but I am not sure the police man took note.


We still had the attacker’s backpack strap (ripped off during the struggle) and duct tape (that he’d pulled from his pants), because B had picked them up before running away. We had little hopes that the police would use this evidence, but the next day, we discussed wanting to follow-up if only for our own mental peace. At around 8pm that night, we talked to our hosts about wanting to re-contact the police and needing their help with translation. Our hosts called the Vila Franca police; they said they knew nothing of the incident, but we could come to the station tonight if we wanted. We drove to the station at 8:30pm, with our hosts talking across the gate to a police man standing guard. The policeman asked us about the physical description of the man, still across the gate and with no sign of letting us in and making a statement. When he heard the description, he told our hosts that a young woman, a school girl, had been attacked at 6pm this night (9/17), just a couple hours prior, by a man fitting a similar description. He said it was therefore important we come in and give our account, but said the policemen were eating dinner and the dinner shouldn’t be interrupted at the end of a workday, so we should come back at 10pm. I was shocked and angered by this, and shaken by the news that another woman had been attacked.

At 10 pm we returned to the station and were let in the gates, and sat in the waiting area for about 50 minutes, while nothing at all was happening in the station and various policemen were just ambling about. We could see the chief or an officer through a glass office, and after nearly an hour he finally waved us in. He hardly asked us any relevant questions about the attack, and spent the next hour typing down our passport information, parents’ names, address etc for the record. He asked us whether we wanted to press charges, though we’d need to be in the country and able to be summoned to court for that, and we said we’d come in to give an account of what happened so the police could be aware and take action, not for legal proceedings. In the end, the chief spent an hour typing up the report, with only minimal details, many of which were wrong, including the date of attack as 9/17 and not 9/16 (we took a picture of the police report, he let us, nearly laughing).

We left the police station exhausted and demoralized, but steadfast that it was worth it if only to get something actually on the record, and get the fact that the events happened in the police’s head, at least. It was difficult to think about the man, if he indeed was the person who attacked the school girl, being still active and on the limb. But we were grateful for our hosts and their help in the situation. We never gave the police the backpack strap or duct tape because when we took them out, the chief nearly laughed again and made it clear they did not want them.

The next day we left Vila Franca, as we decided not to continue our walk.
God forbid they had to have their dinner otherwise the world would end..very sad when they don/t these attacks seriously!
 

C clearly

Moderator
Staff member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (2012, 2014, 2015, 2016), VDLP (2017), Mozarabe (2018), Vasco/Bayona (2019)
@AB_notifying - I am so relieved you were able to escape from this man, and thank for your thorough report here. I hope that you can get the support that you need to recover from this awful experience. We are all watching for updates on what police follow-up there is. Hopefully your strength will help others!
 

peregrina2000

Moderator
Staff member
I agree with all of the comments. One thing that I am reminded of is how, just as few as maybe four or five years ago, peregrinas frequently reported on similar police indifference on the caminos in Spain. There was outrage, outcry, lots of publicity, and I think we can say that what happened to AB in Portugal (with regards to her police interaction) would simply not happen in Spain today. Of course a lot of the official interest and action is motivated by the recognition of how important the caminos are to Spain’s economy, but the official attitude about gender violence generally in Spain has undergone a very fundamental shift.

Crime rates in Portugal are very low, which is not meant to signal any dismissive attitude on my part, but rather to emphasize that this is probably one crazed evil individual, who can hopefully be apprehended and brought to justice. I don’t know how many forum members will remember the assaults that occured on the Vdlp outside of Sevilla, but it went on for a long time. The individual was finally apprehended and things have remained peaceful since then. I am hopeful that this can happen here as well. An explosion of public demands for serious police attention to these matters can perhaps help to move the needle.
 

Bisnieta

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
(2021)
AB & Yolan, thank you both so very much for sharing your stories so other women thinking of walking the route can take heed. It's bone-chilling & infuriating what happened to you both in the same place years apart & the shockingly indifferent attitude demonstrated by local law enforcement about what seems to be an ongoing series of attacks.

Compare the response you got from authorities there to Sara Dhooma's completely different experience with police & prosecutors at Mieres in Asturias last year (recounted elsewhere on this forum), and is it any wonder that female pilgrims being harmed in this locality on the Camino Portugues has become so commonplace that police just callously shrug as victims report the crimes? It's tragic that the entire CP is developing a sketchy reputation because of the shameful apathy & professional negligence among local law enforcement in just a few places.

My heart aches for all 3 of you, but I am so deeply grateful that your first instinct was to put aside your trauma & come here to warn everyone else. That @$$#o!* didn't harm your altruism! THANK YOU!
 
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances , Pamplona Burgos august 2018 Burgos to Santiago 19 /04 to 20/05/2019
Hello everyone,

This is a difficult story, but as it happened only three days ago, it is important for people to be aware and I would appreciate help (the report is filed with the police, but was seemingly not taken very seriously) with further resources or steps to take.

The short version is: on September 16, 2020, at 6:30pm, my friend and I, two female pilgrims, were attacked on the Camino on a field after Alpriarte, below the E1 highway, at knifepoint. I was in a chokehold and the attacker had the knife to my throat while dragging me into the field. He was carrying duct tape. As a result of intense physical struggle, on and off the ground as I fought the attacker, with my friend rushing towards him to help me, she was stabbed in the wrist by the attacker. The gushing blood startled the attacker, which allowed us to run away and seek help and get an ambulance and the police.

The police only took a vague report without asking many questions, and we were focused on getting to the hospital. The next day, we returned to the police station hoping to follow up with the help of our accommodation hosts, and learned another local girl had been attacked this subsequent day (9/17). The police made us wait until they finished dinner to be allowed to enter the station, after which we waited another hour. Then a report was filed after a long hour of us reporting our biographical data, but few questions about the attack were asked. The investigation is not active. That's why I am posting the event here to notify the pilgrim community of this occurrence, in hope to raise awareness and improve prevention and support efforts for such crimes.

We made the decision to stop walking this Camino in order to process the trauma. I completed two Caminos in Spain before and love the Camino deeply; I hope to continue drawing strength from it.

I am including the full account below for record keeping and in hope anyone has advice about what more can be done with this information.

----

On Wednesday September 16th, 2020, B (female friend, name redacted) and I (also female, both of us 27 years of age) set out to walk the Camino de Santiago from Lisbon. We had planned for a long walking day of 35km, ending in Vila Franca de Xira. We left Lisbon at 10:15am, retrieved our credentials from the Sé Cathedral, and began walking out of Lisbon, following the yellow arrows. Gradually, we moved north from the industrial and development zones along the Tagus River and reached more rural townships as the day progressed.

By 6pm, we were following the inland route in a valley west of Savacem, and passed through a very small village called Granja, then another called Alpriarte and were following the dirt trail along the fields. We were seen by various people along the small towns we passed, including a gathering of men in Granja, though this might be of no relevance to the assault.

We crossed R. Combatentes de Grande Guerra, a road with many cars waiting to cross a tunnel going under the E1 national highway. The Camino path continued in a field to the left, parallel to the highway, which was built at a height so that it was not possible for the cars to see the path.

B had planned to take a call from her friend, and asked me if I minded that she walked ahead while she talked. She said she wouldn’t be ahead too far, and would keep me in visible distance. There was another area of dense bamboo (corn stalk?) bushes with a little wooden bridge. B was only a short distance ahead of me, but I momentarily lost sight of her as she walked across that bridge. Right before I was about to cross the bamboo bush/ bridge area myself, I saw a man to my left, coming out of the bushes. He was wearing a blue facemask, long dark pants, and a black t-shirt with colorful neon (blue, green, pink) graphics. He had brown skin and short black hair, but his ethnicity was ambiguous. He looked to be about 30. I walked quickly around the bend. Thankfully, B was sitting on a stone platform there right behind the tall green stalks, still on the phone with her friend. I told her “there is a man behind us. This all took the course of just a few seconds, and I knew the man would be coming up right behind us. We moved just a few meters away from the bridge/bush area and stood aside so he could pass us on the trail.

The next moment was perhaps the most terrible of the attack, when I saw that the man was a mere few steps behind me, making eye contact with me and taking fast big steps straight towards me with an intention of harm. In the next few seconds, the man put me in a chokehold, with his left arm around my neck, and B and I both screamed. In his right arm he had a knife, with a small black handle and a pointy, double-edged blade, which he brought to my neck. He did not ask for money or mention us giving him belongings; he told B to get down on the ground. B was standing a few meters away, telling him to put down the knife; it was clear that she was pleading or negotiating, but not getting down on the ground, and he repeated the command, increasingly agitated. I said: “I’ll give you money,” in hope that this was what he was after, but the man ignored that statement, and commanded again for B to get down on the ground. He might already have been dragging me off the path and into the bushes then, but I cannot remember. I just know that, in my head, his command to B made me think of me or the two of us being raped and killed in the bushes, and that this was not a mugging where the man would take our possessions and leave. I started struggling intensely, screaming at the top of my lungs and trying to get out of the chokehold, and the man made a movement with his knife towards my chest and ordered me to stop screaming with alarm in his voice. He was speaking this in some English with an unknown accent. I continued struggling, biting him. This is when he started dragging me violently towards the field, my head still in a chokehold, and I was screaming wildly and trying to hit and push him with all my might, and he stopped dragging me to instead try to force me down to the ground, still with me in a chokehold, leaning his weight on me, and I stumbled to my knees and was halfway on the ground but was trying to get back up at all costs. My backpack felt incredibly heavy, and getting up was incredibly difficult as he had his weight on me, and I must have succeeded in half-getting up just to be pushed down again a few times. I felt incredibly hopeless. I remember pushing him and hitting him but it felt like it was with so little force and effect that it was useless, but i just kept screaming no at the top of my lungs while pushing him. At one point I must have been out of the chokehold because I remember him somewhat facing me, swinging a fist to my face. It was hard to register where B was during this physical struggle as I was so focused on not being pushed down to the ground, but I knew she was near, and at one point I remember seeing her to my left as I pushed the man, and I think for a moment he did stumble backward but he did not fall to the ground but came back for me and was pushing me down to the ground again. But this is about when I sensed the situation changing, and the man letting me go and taking a step backwards and B screaming for me to run. I stumbled away when I was freed, and saw that the man was stepping away from B in some manner. B started running towards me and I started running again, and saw the man was not following us, though he was still standing at the spot. B was yelling at me that she was hurt, and that is when I registered the blood on her hand and legs, and she lifted her wrist, which had duct tape around it and was bloodied.

Thankfully a road was only a minute away and we waved to two passing cars for help, B pointing to her blood, but the cars did not stop for us. There was a car repair garage of some kind across this country road, and we ran there, and I was praying it’d be open and there’d be people there, and thankfully there were. We ran in shouting for them to call the police and ambulance. When the ambulance was finally here and the medics came over and took B to the back of the ambulance. There was one police man here, taking notes that one of the young men helping us who spoke the best English was translating, asking for the physical descriptions of the man. I wasn’t paying much attention to the police, he took some notes for probably fives minutes and asked for B’s passport and where we were staying tonight, but he wasn’t asking too many relevant questions related to any investigation, and I remember thinking he was just taking notes for the record and doing little else. But I wasn’t thinking too much about this at the time. Another man had joined the crowd and was a middle aged man in running shoes, and perhaps he had been on the path some minutes behind us and had now come upon this commotion, and when he heard my physical description of the man he said he thought he’d seen him on a bicycle, perhaps biking away after the attack, but I am not sure the police man took note.


We still had the attacker’s backpack strap (ripped off during the struggle) and duct tape (that he’d pulled from his pants), because B had picked them up before running away. We had little hopes that the police would use this evidence, but the next day, we discussed wanting to follow-up if only for our own mental peace. At around 8pm that night, we talked to our hosts about wanting to re-contact the police and needing their help with translation. Our hosts called the Vila Franca police; they said they knew nothing of the incident, but we could come to the station tonight if we wanted. We drove to the station at 8:30pm, with our hosts talking across the gate to a police man standing guard. The policeman asked us about the physical description of the man, still across the gate and with no sign of letting us in and making a statement. When he heard the description, he told our hosts that a young woman, a school girl, had been attacked at 6pm this night (9/17), just a couple hours prior, by a man fitting a similar description. He said it was therefore important we come in and give our account, but said the policemen were eating dinner and the dinner shouldn’t be interrupted at the end of a workday, so we should come back at 10pm. I was shocked and angered by this, and shaken by the news that another woman had been attacked.

At 10 pm we returned to the station and were let in the gates, and sat in the waiting area for about 50 minutes, while nothing at all was happening in the station and various policemen were just ambling about. We could see the chief or an officer through a glass office, and after nearly an hour he finally waved us in. He hardly asked us any relevant questions about the attack, and spent the next hour typing down our passport information, parents’ names, address etc for the record. He asked us whether we wanted to press charges, though we’d need to be in the country and able to be summoned to court for that, and we said we’d come in to give an account of what happened so the police could be aware and take action, not for legal proceedings. In the end, the chief spent an hour typing up the report, with only minimal details, many of which were wrong, including the date of attack as 9/17 and not 9/16 (we took a picture of the police report, he let us, nearly laughing).

We left the police station exhausted and demoralized, but steadfast that it was worth it if only to get something actually on the record, and get the fact that the events happened in the police’s head, at least. It was difficult to think about the man, if he indeed was the person who attacked the school girl, being still active and on the limb. But we were grateful for our hosts and their help in the situation. We never gave the police the backpack strap or duct tape because when we took them out, the chief nearly laughed again and made it clear they did not want them.

The next day we left Vila Franca, as we decided not to continue our walk.
Total nightmare ... disgusting and you didn’t get the appropriate support from the Portuguese police as it shows
You were brave , you fought for your lives A big motherly hug from me , you are my daughters age
 

Wendy Werneth

Pilgrim
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Francés from SJPdP (2017)
Camino Primitivo (2018)
Camino de Madrid (2019)
Kumano Kodo (2019)
An explosion of public demands for serious police attention to these matters can perhaps help to move the needle.

I'm sure there are many of us here who are eager to add our voices and demand that the police fulfill their duty to protect. What is the most effective way to go about this? Could we start a petition? And/or provide an email address to contact the relevant authorities, perhaps with a template written in ENG and POR?
 

El Cascayal

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Primitivo May 2019
Invierno November 2019
Ingles April (2020) postponed
I agree with all of the comments. One thing that I am reminded of is how, just as few as maybe four or five years ago, peregrinas frequently reported on similar police indifference on the caminos in Spain. There was outrage, outcry, lots of publicity, and I think we can say that what happened to AB in Portugal (with regards to her police interaction) would simply not happen in Spain today. Of course a lot of the official interest and action is motivated by the recognition of how important the caminos are to Spain’s economy, but the official attitude about gender violence generally in Spain has undergone a very fundamental shift.

Crime rates in Portugal are very low, which is not meant to signal any dismissive attitude on my part, but rather to emphasize that this is probably one crazed evil individual, who can hopefully be apprehended and brought to justice. I don’t know how many forum members will remember the assaults that occured on the Vdlp outside of Sevilla, but it went on for a long time. The individual was finally apprehended and things have remained peaceful since then. I am hopeful that this can happen here as well. An explosion of public demands for serious police attention to these matters can perhaps help to move the needle.
The entire events are so horrifying! It is maddening that the cops showed no interest and apparently mocked you. Seems like a habitual offender. Laurie, how may we as a worldwide group of Peregrinos take an active stand that may actually make a difference? Any ideas?
 

Yolan

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances ( 2015) camino portuques (2017)
I'm sure there are many of us here who are eager to add our voices and demand that the police fulfill their duty to protect. What is the most effective way to go about this? Could we start a petition? And/or provide an email address to contact the relevant authorities, perhaps with a template written in ENG and POR?
D
 

peregrina2000

Moderator
Staff member
I'm sure there are many of us here who are eager to add our voices and demand that the police fulfill their duty to protect. What is the most effective way to go about this? Could we start a petition? And/or provide an email address to contact the relevant authorities, perhaps with a template written in ENG and POR?

I know that José Luis and the Via Lusitana are going to be taking some actions, but I’m not sure what as of yet. I know that they will be checking into the forum later today, so maybe they will have some ideas.
 

Yolan

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances ( 2015) camino portuques (2017)
I know that José Luis and the Via Lusitana are going to be taking some actions, but I’m not sure what as of yet. I know that they will be checking into the forum later today, so maybe they will have some ideas.
 

gittiharre

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF Austria Czech Le Puy Geneva RLS V. Jacobi V. Regia V. Baltica/Scandinavica Porto Muxia
Wat vreselijk wat ook jullie is overkomen. Ik ben een Nederlandse vrouw en ik denk dat ik op precies die plek 4 jaar geleden ben besprongen door een donkere man met bivakmuts. Ik liep de Camino alleen. Ik werd tegen de grond geslagen en hij schopte me en sloeg me. Ik ben beroofd mishandeld verkracht en bloot achter gelaten. Ik heb ook gevochten voor mn leven, maar werd zo mishandeld en geslagen dat ik me later rustig heb gehouden. Ik kreeg ook een mes op mn keel. Ik heb ook hulp gevraagd bij die garage. Werd jullie niet gezegd dat dit eerder is gebeurd? Ik zal hier niet het hele verhaal vertellen, maar mijn leven is voorgoed veranderd. Ik probeer er het beste van te maken. Ik zou graag in contact willen komen met jullie. Misschien kan ik helpen.....
ik wens jullie het allerbeste.

Google translate:

How terrible what happened to you too. I am a Dutch woman and I think I was jumped at exactly that spot 4 years ago by a man wearing a balaclava. I walked the Camino alone. I was knocked to the ground and he kicked me and hit me. I was robbed, abused, raped and left naked. I also fought for my life, but was so abused and beaten that I kept calm later. I also got a knife on my throat. I also asked for help from that garage. Were you not told this has happened before? I won't tell the whole story here, but my life has changed forever. I try to make the best of it. I would like to get in touch with you. Maybe I can help .....
I wish you the best.
 

gittiharre

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF Austria Czech Le Puy Geneva RLS V. Jacobi V. Regia V. Baltica/Scandinavica Porto Muxia
Wat vreselijk wat ook jullie is overkomen. Ik ben een Nederlandse vrouw en ik denk dat ik op precies die plek 4 jaar geleden ben besprongen door een donkere man met bivakmuts. Ik liep de Camino alleen. Ik werd tegen de grond geslagen en hij schopte me en sloeg me. Ik ben beroofd mishandeld verkracht en bloot achter gelaten. Ik heb ook gevochten voor mn leven, maar werd zo mishandeld en geslagen dat ik me later rustig heb gehouden. Ik kreeg ook een mes op mn keel. Ik heb ook hulp gevraagd bij die garage. Werd jullie niet gezegd dat dit eerder is gebeurd? Ik zal hier niet het hele verhaal vertellen, maar mijn leven is voorgoed veranderd. Ik probeer er het beste van te maken. Ik zou graag in contact willen komen met jullie. Misschien kan ik helpen.....
ik wens jullie het allerbeste.

Google translate:

How terrible what happened to you too. I am a Dutch woman and I think I was jumped at exactly that spot 4 years ago by a man wearing a balaclava. I walked the Camino alone. I was knocked to the ground and he kicked me and hit me. I was robbed, abused, raped and left naked. I also fought for my life, but was so abused and beaten that I kept calm later. I also got a knife on my throat. I also asked for help from that garage. Were you not told this has happened before? I won't tell the whole story here, but my life has changed forever. I try to make the best of it. I would like to get in touch with you. Maybe I can help .....
I wish you the best.
I am absolutely horrified by what has been happening in this spot and would not be surprised, if there are more victims that we don't know about. It feels very dark to me and like a collusion/ cover up by police.
The lack of concern from them and " powerplays", making people wait and not taking them seriously are extremely traumatizing.
 

gittiharre

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF Austria Czech Le Puy Geneva RLS V. Jacobi V. Regia V. Baltica/Scandinavica Porto Muxia
Hello everyone,

This is a difficult story, but as it happened only three days ago, it is important for people to be aware and I would appreciate help (the report is filed with the police, but was seemingly not taken very seriously) with further resources or steps to take.

The short version is: on September 16, 2020, at 6:30pm, my friend and I, two female pilgrims, were attacked on the Camino on a field after Alpriarte, below the E1 highway, at knifepoint. I was in a chokehold and the attacker had the knife to my throat while dragging me into the field. He was carrying duct tape. As a result of intense physical struggle, on and off the ground as I fought the attacker, with my friend rushing towards him to help me, she was stabbed in the wrist by the attacker. The gushing blood startled the attacker, which allowed us to run away and seek help and get an ambulance and the police.

The police only took a vague report without asking many questions, and we were focused on getting to the hospital. The next day, we returned to the police station hoping to follow up with the help of our accommodation hosts, and learned another local girl had been attacked this subsequent day (9/17). The police made us wait until they finished dinner to be allowed to enter the station, after which we waited another hour. Then a report was filed after a long hour of us reporting our biographical data, but few questions about the attack were asked. The investigation is not active. That's why I am posting the event here to notify the pilgrim community of this occurrence, in hope to raise awareness and improve prevention and support efforts for such crimes.

We made the decision to stop walking this Camino in order to process the trauma. I completed two Caminos in Spain before and love the Camino deeply; I hope to continue drawing strength from it.

I am including the full account below for record keeping and in hope anyone has advice about what more can be done with this information.

----

On Wednesday September 16th, 2020, B (female friend, name redacted) and I (also female, both of us 27 years of age) set out to walk the Camino de Santiago from Lisbon. We had planned for a long walking day of 35km, ending in Vila Franca de Xira. We left Lisbon at 10:15am, retrieved our credentials from the Sé Cathedral, and began walking out of Lisbon, following the yellow arrows. Gradually, we moved north from the industrial and development zones along the Tagus River and reached more rural townships as the day progressed.

By 6pm, we were following the inland route in a valley west of Savacem, and passed through a very small village called Granja, then another called Alpriarte and were following the dirt trail along the fields. We were seen by various people along the small towns we passed, including a gathering of men in Granja, though this might be of no relevance to the assault.

We crossed R. Combatentes de Grande Guerra, a road with many cars waiting to cross a tunnel going under the E1 national highway. The Camino path continued in a field to the left, parallel to the highway, which was built at a height so that it was not possible for the cars to see the path.

B had planned to take a call from her friend, and asked me if I minded that she walked ahead while she talked. She said she wouldn’t be ahead too far, and would keep me in visible distance. There was another area of dense bamboo (corn stalk?) bushes with a little wooden bridge. B was only a short distance ahead of me, but I momentarily lost sight of her as she walked across that bridge. Right before I was about to cross the bamboo bush/ bridge area myself, I saw a man to my left, coming out of the bushes. He was wearing a blue facemask, long dark pants, and a black t-shirt with colorful neon (blue, green, pink) graphics. He had brown skin and short black hair, but his ethnicity was ambiguous. He looked to be about 30. I walked quickly around the bend. Thankfully, B was sitting on a stone platform there right behind the tall green stalks, still on the phone with her friend. I told her “there is a man behind us. This all took the course of just a few seconds, and I knew the man would be coming up right behind us. We moved just a few meters away from the bridge/bush area and stood aside so he could pass us on the trail.

The next moment was perhaps the most terrible of the attack, when I saw that the man was a mere few steps behind me, making eye contact with me and taking fast big steps straight towards me with an intention of harm. In the next few seconds, the man put me in a chokehold, with his left arm around my neck, and B and I both screamed. In his right arm he had a knife, with a small black handle and a pointy, double-edged blade, which he brought to my neck. He did not ask for money or mention us giving him belongings; he told B to get down on the ground. B was standing a few meters away, telling him to put down the knife; it was clear that she was pleading or negotiating, but not getting down on the ground, and he repeated the command, increasingly agitated. I said: “I’ll give you money,” in hope that this was what he was after, but the man ignored that statement, and commanded again for B to get down on the ground. He might already have been dragging me off the path and into the bushes then, but I cannot remember. I just know that, in my head, his command to B made me think of me or the two of us being raped and killed in the bushes, and that this was not a mugging where the man would take our possessions and leave. I started struggling intensely, screaming at the top of my lungs and trying to get out of the chokehold, and the man made a movement with his knife towards my chest and ordered me to stop screaming with alarm in his voice. He was speaking this in some English with an unknown accent. I continued struggling, biting him. This is when he started dragging me violently towards the field, my head still in a chokehold, and I was screaming wildly and trying to hit and push him with all my might, and he stopped dragging me to instead try to force me down to the ground, still with me in a chokehold, leaning his weight on me, and I stumbled to my knees and was halfway on the ground but was trying to get back up at all costs. My backpack felt incredibly heavy, and getting up was incredibly difficult as he had his weight on me, and I must have succeeded in half-getting up just to be pushed down again a few times. I felt incredibly hopeless. I remember pushing him and hitting him but it felt like it was with so little force and effect that it was useless, but i just kept screaming no at the top of my lungs while pushing him. At one point I must have been out of the chokehold because I remember him somewhat facing me, swinging a fist to my face. It was hard to register where B was during this physical struggle as I was so focused on not being pushed down to the ground, but I knew she was near, and at one point I remember seeing her to my left as I pushed the man, and I think for a moment he did stumble backward but he did not fall to the ground but came back for me and was pushing me down to the ground again. But this is about when I sensed the situation changing, and the man letting me go and taking a step backwards and B screaming for me to run. I stumbled away when I was freed, and saw that the man was stepping away from B in some manner. B started running towards me and I started running again, and saw the man was not following us, though he was still standing at the spot. B was yelling at me that she was hurt, and that is when I registered the blood on her hand and legs, and she lifted her wrist, which had duct tape around it and was bloodied.

Thankfully a road was only a minute away and we waved to two passing cars for help, B pointing to her blood, but the cars did not stop for us. There was a car repair garage of some kind across this country road, and we ran there, and I was praying it’d be open and there’d be people there, and thankfully there were. We ran in shouting for them to call the police and ambulance. When the ambulance was finally here and the medics came over and took B to the back of the ambulance. There was one police man here, taking notes that one of the young men helping us who spoke the best English was translating, asking for the physical descriptions of the man. I wasn’t paying much attention to the police, he took some notes for probably fives minutes and asked for B’s passport and where we were staying tonight, but he wasn’t asking too many relevant questions related to any investigation, and I remember thinking he was just taking notes for the record and doing little else. But I wasn’t thinking too much about this at the time. Another man had joined the crowd and was a middle aged man in running shoes, and perhaps he had been on the path some minutes behind us and had now come upon this commotion, and when he heard my physical description of the man he said he thought he’d seen him on a bicycle, perhaps biking away after the attack, but I am not sure the police man took note.


We still had the attacker’s backpack strap (ripped off during the struggle) and duct tape (that he’d pulled from his pants), because B had picked them up before running away. We had little hopes that the police would use this evidence, but the next day, we discussed wanting to follow-up if only for our own mental peace. At around 8pm that night, we talked to our hosts about wanting to re-contact the police and needing their help with translation. Our hosts called the Vila Franca police; they said they knew nothing of the incident, but we could come to the station tonight if we wanted. We drove to the station at 8:30pm, with our hosts talking across the gate to a police man standing guard. The policeman asked us about the physical description of the man, still across the gate and with no sign of letting us in and making a statement. When he heard the description, he told our hosts that a young woman, a school girl, had been attacked at 6pm this night (9/17), just a couple hours prior, by a man fitting a similar description. He said it was therefore important we come in and give our account, but said the policemen were eating dinner and the dinner shouldn’t be interrupted at the end of a workday, so we should come back at 10pm. I was shocked and angered by this, and shaken by the news that another woman had been attacked.

At 10 pm we returned to the station and were let in the gates, and sat in the waiting area for about 50 minutes, while nothing at all was happening in the station and various policemen were just ambling about. We could see the chief or an officer through a glass office, and after nearly an hour he finally waved us in. He hardly asked us any relevant questions about the attack, and spent the next hour typing down our passport information, parents’ names, address etc for the record. He asked us whether we wanted to press charges, though we’d need to be in the country and able to be summoned to court for that, and we said we’d come in to give an account of what happened so the police could be aware and take action, not for legal proceedings. In the end, the chief spent an hour typing up the report, with only minimal details, many of which were wrong, including the date of attack as 9/17 and not 9/16 (we took a picture of the police report, he let us, nearly laughing).

We left the police station exhausted and demoralized, but steadfast that it was worth it if only to get something actually on the record, and get the fact that the events happened in the police’s head, at least. It was difficult to think about the man, if he indeed was the person who attacked the school girl, being still active and on the limb. But we were grateful for our hosts and their help in the situation. We never gave the police the backpack strap or duct tape because when we took them out, the chief nearly laughed again and made it clear they did not want them.

The next day we left Vila Franca, as we decided not to continue our walk.
I am shocked to hear what happened to you and furious about the lack of concern and action by police. I am full of admiration for the guts and strength and quick thinking you showed during the attack. I hope you get support via Laurie's contacts.
 

Wendy Werneth

Pilgrim
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Francés from SJPdP (2017)
Camino Primitivo (2018)
Camino de Madrid (2019)
Kumano Kodo (2019)
I just came across this coverage of the incident in the Daily Mail. They have completely misrepresented the facts as told by @AB_notifying !!! They call it a "street robbery" and a "mugging" and even claim that the criminal tried to help his victim!!! By which they mean the OP's friend. They hardly mention the OP at all, other than to say that the stabbing victim was walking with a female friend.

We need media coverage of the incident, but not like this!!!! I am absolutely furious. The Daily Mail's main source seems to be one of the first responders from the fire department. It's utterly reprehensible and unacceptable that the authorities are trying to spin the story to make it a street robbery gone wrong.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances 2005,2008,2010,2015.camino Portuguese 2007 .primativo2012.camino Norte 2009.sjpdp to finisterre and muxia 2007. Le Puy to jpdp 2006. Via francigena vercelli to Lucca 2014. Lucca to Rome 2016.
I have just checked into the forum and can hardly believe what I am reading .
I am so so sorry and the police should be ashamed of themselves


They should be brought to book and those on duty that day should be reported to the regional authorities
The regional office should also have a copy of your statement perhaps?

Yolan, I hardly know what to say to you in your distress and it's easy for me to say stay strong but I hope you do and may whoever is "up there" bless you and keep you.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances 2005,2008,2010,2015.camino Portuguese 2007 .primativo2012.camino Norte 2009.sjpdp to finisterre and muxia 2007. Le Puy to jpdp 2006. Via francigena vercelli to Lucca 2014. Lucca to Rome 2016.
Just wondering......For the past few years, every time we hear of these attacks, they seem to be on the Portuguese Camino ......or am I missing something??
In 2007 2 pilgrims that we walked with were mugged about 20 minutes ahead of us ...these muggers even had guns....the police didn't want to know then either in case it affected the tourism!!
 

trecile

Camino Addict
Camino(s) past & future
Francés (2016 & 2017), Norte (2018), Francés-Salvador-Norte (2019), Portuguese (2019)
In 2007 2 pilgrims that we walked with were mugged about 20 minutes ahead of us ...these muggers even had guns....the police didn't want to know then either in case it affected the tourism!!
If the police don't do anything about it, it will affect tourism!
 

cathietherese

Catherine Davis
Camino(s) past & future
SJPDP - Finistere May/June 2012
Le-Puy-en-Velay to Cahors/ June 2019
Hello everyone,

This is a difficult story, but as it happened only three days ago, it is important.
Dear @ABWalking, Firstly let me say ‘I believe you’ and then repeat it a million times to deafen the horrifying dismissal you and your friend suffered from police when you reported this prolonged, and life threatening attack.
As many express love and concern here, I hope it forms some virtual balm to comfort you and your friend as you begin to process this trauma.
Your courage and concern for other pilgrims, and women travellers is amazingly strong. I pray it is heard and the right actions are taken urgently.
For yourself and your friend I send love and the blessing of Kia Kaha (stay strong) from New Zealand.💜
Ultreia et suseia, God bless, and much love, Catherine.
 

jungleboy

Nick
Camino(s) past & future
Francés 2017
Primitivo 2018
Madrid 2019
Kumano Kodo 2019
Português 2020
@AB_notifying, B and @Yolan, I’m so, so sorry to hear about these horrific attacks against you. You all acted extremely bravely both in fighting your attacker and in sharing your ordeal here.

This is a strong community and we will support you in any way we can. AB, @Wendy Werneth and I live in Lisbon (though we are on camino right now) so let us know if there’s anything we can do from there to help bring this despicable criminal to justice.
 

henrythedog

Loved and fed by David
Camino(s) past & future
Frances 2017, 2018, 2019, Ingles 2018, (Madrid 2019 partial - retired hurt!) (more planned)
I just came across this coverage of the incident in the Daily Mail. They have completely misrepresented the facts as told by @AB_notifying !!! They call it a "street robbery" and a "mugging" and even claim that the criminal tried to help his victim!!! By which they mean the OP's friend. They hardly mention the OP at all, other than to say that the stabbing victim was walking with a female friend.

We need media coverage of the incident, but not like this!!!! I am absolutely furious. The Daily Mail's main source seems to be one of the first responders from the fire department. It's utterly reprehensible and unacceptable that the authorities are trying to spin the story to make it a street robbery gone wrong.

The day that alleged newspaper prints the truth will be a cold day in hell.
 

David Tallan

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (1989 and 2016), Portugues - from Porto (2018)
Just wondering......For the past few years, every time we hear of these attacks, they seem to be on the Portuguese Camino ......or am I missing something??
In 2007 2 pilgrims that we walked with were mugged about 20 minutes ahead of us ...these muggers even had guns....the police didn't want to know then either in case it affected the tourism!!
Unfortunately, the attacks are not only on the Camino Portugues. As was mentioned further up the thread, Sara Dhooma's experience on the San Salvador shows they happen elsewhere as well, although she was fortunate enough to escape without harm and her experience with the police was much better.

As for the police not wanting to know in case it affects tourism, tourism will be affected much more if word of mouth spreads that people cannot rely upon the police in Portugal!

I am so sorry to read about what happened but prompt reporting to the police and, when they are not responsive, the sharing of the report more widely is an act of emotional labor that will help many.
 

4 Eyes

Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF from SJPP 14, VDLP from Seville 15, DN&P from Irun 16, Portuguese from Lisbon 17, CF from SJPP 18
It is doubly outrageous that after you reported the incident the police apparently did little so that a school girl was attacked the very next day at the same spot, especially since they must be aware of the prior incidents. You are very courageous in fighting the criminal off and bringing this to the attention of your fellow pilgrims. Thumbs up to you. Thank you. Unfortunately, generally it is true that law enforcement anywhere do not tend to spend a lot of time on investigating any crime reported when the victims don't want to press charges and don't want to be involved with prosecution. That is because they see no use in such an investigation, since they cannot arrest the perpetrator and the case cannot be prosecuted because the victims do not want to press charges and do not want to be involved. Criminals know this too. Some especially target foreigners for this very reason. They know they can count on getting away with it. In Sara Dhooma's case, she did want to press charges and did want to testify for the prosecution. From what I have read, she was able to come to this decision because she received a lot of support and encouragement from the locals, and her case was expedited. Hopefully, with public outcries, Portugal will come up with the same kind of support system and expedited process to enable visiting victims of crime to come to the same decision as Sara Dhooma.
 

gerardcarey

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
CFx2, CPx1
I would find it helpful If someone could provide an appropriate governmental address to which I, and perhaps others, could voice concern.
Merely venting concern here on the forum puts me in the position of considering myself as being simply a "Virtue Signaller."
I find that distasteful.
Regards
Gerard
 

Mycroft

Active Member
Hello everyone,

This is a difficult story, but as it happened only three days ago, it is important for people to be aware and I would appreciate help (the report is filed with the police, but was seemingly not taken very seriously) with further resources or steps to take.

The short version is: on September 16, 2020, at 6:30pm, my friend and I, two female pilgrims, were attacked on the Camino on a field after Alpriarte, below the E1 highway, at knifepoint. I was in a chokehold and the attacker had the knife to my throat while dragging me into the field. He was carrying duct tape. As a result of intense physical struggle, on and off the ground as I fought the attacker, with my friend rushing towards him to help me, she was stabbed in the wrist by the attacker. The gushing blood startled the attacker, which allowed us to run away and seek help and get an ambulance and the police.

The police only took a vague report without asking many questions, and we were focused on getting to the hospital. The next day, we returned to the police station hoping to follow up with the help of our accommodation hosts, and learned another local girl had been attacked this subsequent day (9/17). The police made us wait until they finished dinner to be allowed to enter the station, after which we waited another hour. Then a report was filed after a long hour of us reporting our biographical data, but few questions about the attack were asked. The investigation is not active. That's why I am posting the event here to notify the pilgrim community of this occurrence, in hope to raise awareness and improve prevention and support efforts for such crimes.

We made the decision to stop walking this Camino in order to process the trauma. I completed two Caminos in Spain before and love the Camino deeply; I hope to continue drawing strength from it.

I am including the full account below for record keeping and in hope anyone has advice about what more can be done with this information.

----

On Wednesday September 16th, 2020, B (female friend, name redacted) and I (also female, both of us 27 years of age) set out to walk the Camino de Santiago from Lisbon. We had planned for a long walking day of 35km, ending in Vila Franca de Xira. We left Lisbon at 10:15am, retrieved our credentials from the Sé Cathedral, and began walking out of Lisbon, following the yellow arrows. Gradually, we moved north from the industrial and development zones along the Tagus River and reached more rural townships as the day progressed.

By 6pm, we were following the inland route in a valley west of Savacem, and passed through a very small village called Granja, then another called Alpriarte and were following the dirt trail along the fields. We were seen by various people along the small towns we passed, including a gathering of men in Granja, though this might be of no relevance to the assault.

We crossed R. Combatentes de Grande Guerra, a road with many cars waiting to cross a tunnel going under the E1 national highway. The Camino path continued in a field to the left, parallel to the highway, which was built at a height so that it was not possible for the cars to see the path.

B had planned to take a call from her friend, and asked me if I minded that she walked ahead while she talked. She said she wouldn’t be ahead too far, and would keep me in visible distance. There was another area of dense bamboo (corn stalk?) bushes with a little wooden bridge. B was only a short distance ahead of me, but I momentarily lost sight of her as she walked across that bridge. Right before I was about to cross the bamboo bush/ bridge area myself, I saw a man to my left, coming out of the bushes. He was wearing a blue facemask, long dark pants, and a black t-shirt with colorful neon (blue, green, pink) graphics. He had brown skin and short black hair, but his ethnicity was ambiguous. He looked to be about 30. I walked quickly around the bend. Thankfully, B was sitting on a stone platform there right behind the tall green stalks, still on the phone with her friend. I told her “there is a man behind us. This all took the course of just a few seconds, and I knew the man would be coming up right behind us. We moved just a few meters away from the bridge/bush area and stood aside so he could pass us on the trail.

The next moment was perhaps the most terrible of the attack, when I saw that the man was a mere few steps behind me, making eye contact with me and taking fast big steps straight towards me with an intention of harm. In the next few seconds, the man put me in a chokehold, with his left arm around my neck, and B and I both screamed. In his right arm he had a knife, with a small black handle and a pointy, double-edged blade, which he brought to my neck. He did not ask for money or mention us giving him belongings; he told B to get down on the ground. B was standing a few meters away, telling him to put down the knife; it was clear that she was pleading or negotiating, but not getting down on the ground, and he repeated the command, increasingly agitated. I said: “I’ll give you money,” in hope that this was what he was after, but the man ignored that statement, and commanded again for B to get down on the ground. He might already have been dragging me off the path and into the bushes then, but I cannot remember. I just know that, in my head, his command to B made me think of me or the two of us being raped and killed in the bushes, and that this was not a mugging where the man would take our possessions and leave. I started struggling intensely, screaming at the top of my lungs and trying to get out of the chokehold, and the man made a movement with his knife towards my chest and ordered me to stop screaming with alarm in his voice. He was speaking this in some English with an unknown accent. I continued struggling, biting him. This is when he started dragging me violently towards the field, my head still in a chokehold, and I was screaming wildly and trying to hit and push him with all my might, and he stopped dragging me to instead try to force me down to the ground, still with me in a chokehold, leaning his weight on me, and I stumbled to my knees and was halfway on the ground but was trying to get back up at all costs. My backpack felt incredibly heavy, and getting up was incredibly difficult as he had his weight on me, and I must have succeeded in half-getting up just to be pushed down again a few times. I felt incredibly hopeless. I remember pushing him and hitting him but it felt like it was with so little force and effect that it was useless, but i just kept screaming no at the top of my lungs while pushing him. At one point I must have been out of the chokehold because I remember him somewhat facing me, swinging a fist to my face. It was hard to register where B was during this physical struggle as I was so focused on not being pushed down to the ground, but I knew she was near, and at one point I remember seeing her to my left as I pushed the man, and I think for a moment he did stumble backward but he did not fall to the ground but came back for me and was pushing me down to the ground again. But this is about when I sensed the situation changing, and the man letting me go and taking a step backwards and B screaming for me to run. I stumbled away when I was freed, and saw that the man was stepping away from B in some manner. B started running towards me and I started running again, and saw the man was not following us, though he was still standing at the spot. B was yelling at me that she was hurt, and that is when I registered the blood on her hand and legs, and she lifted her wrist, which had duct tape around it and was bloodied.

Thankfully a road was only a minute away and we waved to two passing cars for help, B pointing to her blood, but the cars did not stop for us. There was a car repair garage of some kind across this country road, and we ran there, and I was praying it’d be open and there’d be people there, and thankfully there were. We ran in shouting for them to call the police and ambulance. When the ambulance was finally here and the medics came over and took B to the back of the ambulance. There was one police man here, taking notes that one of the young men helping us who spoke the best English was translating, asking for the physical descriptions of the man. I wasn’t paying much attention to the police, he took some notes for probably fives minutes and asked for B’s passport and where we were staying tonight, but he wasn’t asking too many relevant questions related to any investigation, and I remember thinking he was just taking notes for the record and doing little else. But I wasn’t thinking too much about this at the time. Another man had joined the crowd and was a middle aged man in running shoes, and perhaps he had been on the path some minutes behind us and had now come upon this commotion, and when he heard my physical description of the man he said he thought he’d seen him on a bicycle, perhaps biking away after the attack, but I am not sure the police man took note.


We still had the attacker’s backpack strap (ripped off during the struggle) and duct tape (that he’d pulled from his pants), because B had picked them up before running away. We had little hopes that the police would use this evidence, but the next day, we discussed wanting to follow-up if only for our own mental peace. At around 8pm that night, we talked to our hosts about wanting to re-contact the police and needing their help with translation. Our hosts called the Vila Franca police; they said they knew nothing of the incident, but we could come to the station tonight if we wanted. We drove to the station at 8:30pm, with our hosts talking across the gate to a police man standing guard. The policeman asked us about the physical description of the man, still across the gate and with no sign of letting us in and making a statement. When he heard the description, he told our hosts that a young woman, a school girl, had been attacked at 6pm this night (9/17), just a couple hours prior, by a man fitting a similar description. He said it was therefore important we come in and give our account, but said the policemen were eating dinner and the dinner shouldn’t be interrupted at the end of a workday, so we should come back at 10pm. I was shocked and angered by this, and shaken by the news that another woman had been attacked.

At 10 pm we returned to the station and were let in the gates, and sat in the waiting area for about 50 minutes, while nothing at all was happening in the station and various policemen were just ambling about. We could see the chief or an officer through a glass office, and after nearly an hour he finally waved us in. He hardly asked us any relevant questions about the attack, and spent the next hour typing down our passport information, parents’ names, address etc for the record. He asked us whether we wanted to press charges, though we’d need to be in the country and able to be summoned to court for that, and we said we’d come in to give an account of what happened so the police could be aware and take action, not for legal proceedings. In the end, the chief spent an hour typing up the report, with only minimal details, many of which were wrong, including the date of attack as 9/17 and not 9/16 (we took a picture of the police report, he let us, nearly laughing).

We left the police station exhausted and demoralized, but steadfast that it was worth it if only to get something actually on the record, and get the fact that the events happened in the police’s head, at least. It was difficult to think about the man, if he indeed was the person who attacked the school girl, being still active and on the limb. But we were grateful for our hosts and their help in the situation. We never gave the police the backpack strap or duct tape because when we took them out, the chief nearly laughed again and made it clear they did not want them.

The next day we left Vila Franca, as we decided not to continue our walk.
I find when those in authority are not doing their jobs or are covering up their misconduct, it is best to make contact with the media.
Secondly, I am curious to know what the police did about masks and distancing in these times of SARS-2.
 

peregrina2000

Moderator
Staff member
Please keep the commentary to showing support for the victims and for offering constructive suggestions of ways in which to express our concerns and work for changes to the system. This was a tragic event, and I know that there are people in Portugal who are taking this report very seriously. It does no good to make sweeping and unsubstantiated generalizations about law enforcement or crime in Portugal, illicit motivations of government agencies, or any other emotional triggers that hover so closely to the surface in cases like this.
 

kazrobbo

Tassie Kaz
Camino(s) past & future
CF 2012
CP 2015
St Olavs Norway 2016
88T Japan 2017
PWC/VF 2019
Israel 2020 X
Wales CP 21?
KK?
VdlP?
Wat vreselijk wat ook jullie is overkomen. Ik ben een Nederlandse vrouw en ik denk dat ik op precies die plek 4 jaar geleden ben besprongen door een donkere man met bivakmuts. Ik liep de Camino alleen. Ik werd tegen de grond geslagen en hij schopte me en sloeg me. Ik ben beroofd mishandeld verkracht en bloot achter gelaten. Ik heb ook gevochten voor mn leven, maar werd zo mishandeld en geslagen dat ik me later rustig heb gehouden. Ik kreeg ook een mes op mn keel. Ik heb ook hulp gevraagd bij die garage. Werd jullie niet gezegd dat dit eerder is gebeurd?
@Yolan ...I can't imagine or comprehend what you have endured & the impact on your life. Your strength & resilience are extraordinary...& you are reaching out to help others.
I don't know how you even begin to rebuild after such an event but have you managed to walk somewhere, anywhere since then? The simple act of walking, even in your day to day life must be a daunting, frightening prospect.
Wishing you all the very best.
👣 🌏

Google translate to Dutch:
@Yolan...Ik kan het me niet voorstellen of te begrijpen wat je hebt meegemaakt en de impact op je leven. Je kracht en veerkracht zijn buitengewoon ... en je probeert anderen te helpen.

Ik weet niet hoe je zelfs maar begint te herbouwen na zo'n evenement, maar ben je erin geslaagd om ergens heen te lopen sindsdien? De simpele handeling van wandelen, zelfs in uw dagelijkse leven, moet een ontmoedigend, beangstigend vooruitzicht zijn.
Ik wens je het allerbeste.
👣 🌏
 
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Camino Chrissy

Take one step forward...then keep on walking..
Camino(s) past & future
Frances 2015;
Norte/Primitivo 2016;
Frances 2017;
Le Puy 2018;
Portuguese/FishermanTr. 2019
There is nothing more I can add to the many heartfelt replies that have been offered to these two young women in sympathy. The emotional trauma they have experienced will undoubtebly take a long time to recover from and I hope they are able to seek out any necessary counseling which could be instrumental in helping them heal from their tragic and devastating incidents.
 

Lexicos

Jim
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances
2017
Camino Portuguese 2019
This is awful and very concerning. The hardest thing for us gentle souls to comprehend is that there are people out there who are brutal, violent and psychopathic. Fortunately not many but it only takes one. I'm a strong bloke and still I carry a loud whistle around my neck and a small pocket knife in my backpack whenever I walk in remote and foreign places. Best to walk close to others too, if you can. I am so glad you made your escape. The reaction of the police is truly shocking. Shame on them. I hate to say it but I'm hardly surprised about their lack of action. You should feel safe to walk, absolutely, but we just can't get away from the fact that risks are there and precautions are necessary. How sad that this is so. A personal alarm is probably helpful. I think there are repellent sprays too, I'm not sure. A very loud whistle. A steel walking pole. Whatever it takes. You don't want ever to be in a position to use them of course, but it's worth considering especially if walking alone. Even the Camino is not immune from the horrible people of this world. Strength and courage to you both.
 

volleyjanice

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
08/2013 St. Jean Pied de Port-Belorado, 08/2015 Burgos- Santiago/Finisterre/Muxia, 08/18 Portugese
Your account of this horrendous nightmare had my heart racing. I am so sorry that not only were you attacked on the Camino, but you faced further abuse by the very people who should have provided assistance and comfort. @Yolan I can’t even begin to fathom your experience and the lingering effects. May I suggest that we all ask our local camino groups to also apply pressure to the Portuguese authorities. My own experience of being bitten by a dog in Spain strongly suggested that people in some of these small communities won’t speak up against repeat offenders. Horrific to think that a school girl being attacked doesn’t even warrant a stronger response from the authorities. Wishing all three of you amazing strong woman good health and peaceful minds.
 

danielgzepeda

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF 2016
I would find it helpful If someone could provide an appropriate governmental address to which I, and perhaps others, could voice concern.
Merely venting concern here on the forum puts me in the position of considering myself as being simply a "Virtue Signaller."
I find that distasteful.
Regards
Gerard
Try the OP's individual national embassy.
 

Yolan

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances ( 2015) camino portuques (2017)
Wat ben ik blij met alle liefdevolle reacties en hulp voor de twee vrouwen en mezelf. Ik zal later vandaag verder reageren. Ik wil graag gebruik maken van alle hulp die aangeboden wordt. Van de Afrikaanse dader is DNA in de database. Tot later en dank jullie wel!

I am so happy with all the loving responses and help for the two women and myself. I will respond further later today. I would like to take advantage of any help that is offered. The DNA of the offender is in the database. See you later and thank you!
 
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Rodrigo Cerqueira

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
3 French from St. Jean Pied Port, 3 Portuguese from Lisbon, 1 Portuguese from Porto, 1 Primitivo from Oviedo, 19 Lisbon - Fatima, 2 Porto - Fatima, 1 Coimbra - Fátima... Open the caminhos Nascente Fátima - Tomar, Poente Nazaré- Fátima, the north connection from Fátima to Ansião and Caminho Santiago central.
Dear Pilgrim AB,
I’m sorry about what happened to you and your friend. The always vigilant Peregrina2000 called my attention to your post. I’m the president of a Portuguese Pilgrim Association that takes care of the Caminho www.caminho.com.pt, Associação de Amigos dos Caminhos de Fátima.

What happened to you and the your friend can’t be undone. But we(pilgrim association) can try to pressure the government to react internally in a more effective manner to catch the offender and avoid similar problems to other pilgrims. Your collaboration with us hopefully is a positive action to avoid more assaults.

Please send me via private message the full description of the men who assault you and photo of the official police complain.

The Portuguese legal system it’s slow but it works. Despite the fact you live abroad you can go forward with a court complain. You can testify in a Portuguese court via a video conference. So where you live is no problem. Please let me know if you consider acting legally against the men who assaulted you. Our (pilgrim) lawyer could help you.

About the Portuguese police, probably the language barrier limited his actions. So they tried to keep it simple. In Portugal we have Tourism police. If you allow me I’m going to send them a copy of your complain.

Please try to be positive. You have done everything you could do to alert and avoid similar situations to other pilgrims. Now let the pilgrim community react.

This information is useful to you and other pilgrims. Any kind o problem on the Caminho that need the police, firefighters, medical assistance please call 112 or +351 112 depending on nationality and mobile phone provider, they are better prepared to understand your needs than a local police station.

Sorry about your experience in Portugal. Hopefully you will return stronger to make peace with the Caminho.

Rodrigo Cerqueira
 

henrythedog

Loved and fed by David
Camino(s) past & future
Frances 2017, 2018, 2019, Ingles 2018, (Madrid 2019 partial - retired hurt!) (more planned)
I’ve made my view known earlier, so perhaps this is a suitable time to give yet another plug to the Spanish Government's ‘alert cops’ app. (I do know that the tragic events in these cases happened in Portugal)

I’m a 16 stone ex-rugby playing former army officer who practices aikido; but the App is on the homepage of my iPhone whenever I’m walking in Spain.

Thankfully these events are remarkably rare - even more so in Portugal it would seem; but the effect on those involved cannot be over-stated.
 

Eugene Julia K

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Portuguese Camino (5 days from Valença, Portugal to Santiago)
@AB_notifying and @Yolan I am so sorry about what happened to the three of you..,I'm so sad and angry about the incidents and about the awful way the police treated you and the case ....if there's anything I can do, please let me know (I'm an American woman in the U.S.)...as others have said, I would suggest contacting the embassy and report what happened...and I would contact media outlets to bring attention to this....I saw your post in a Camino FB group and then shared it to a Women's Camino FB group...this kind of info. needs to be shared widely until the attacker is caught....and the police misconduct needs a spotlight too...if we have permission to share this with the media, please let us know. I'm not friends with any writers but did write to a Forbes travel writer living in Lisbon about an article and could write to her again to see if she could cover this or if someone else could...praying for your healing and for the attacker to be brought to justice and the police to be held accountable for their terrible behavior and allowing this to continue....
 

Eugene Julia K

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Portuguese Camino (5 days from Valença, Portugal to Santiago)
I agree with all of the comments. One thing that I am reminded of is how, just as few as maybe four or five years ago, peregrinas frequently reported on similar police indifference on the caminos in Spain. There was outrage, outcry, lots of publicity, and I think we can say that what happened to AB in Portugal (with regards to her police interaction) would simply not happen in Spain today. Of course a lot of the official interest and action is motivated by the recognition of how important the caminos are to Spain’s economy, but the official attitude about gender violence generally in Spain has undergone a very fundamental shift.

Crime rates in Portugal are very low, which is not meant to signal any dismissive attitude on my part, but rather to emphasize that this is probably one crazed evil individual, who can hopefully be apprehended and brought to justice. I don’t know how many forum members will remember the assaults that occured on the Vdlp outside of Sevilla, but it went on for a long time. The individual was finally apprehended and things have remained peaceful since then. I am hopeful that this can happen here as well. An explosion of public demands for serious police attention to these matters can perhaps help to move the needle.

@peregrina2000 How can the expat community and pilgrims help demand police attention to these matters?
 
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VNwalking

Wandering in big circles
Camino(s) past & future
Francés ('14/'15)
San Olav/CF ('16)
Baztanés/CF ('17)
Ingles ('18)
Vasco/CF/Invierno ('19)
@peregrina2000 How can the expat community and pilgrims help demand police attention these matters?
@Rodrigo Cerqueira may be the better person to ask. Is there anything we can do as past and future pilgrims? We are not involved with this particular case, but are suppotive and passionate about the caminho.
 
Camino(s) past & future
CF SJPdP to SdC
(May 2015)
CF Sarria to SdC
(May 2016)
CF SJPDP-SdC
(Apr/May 2018)
VdlP (2022)
When I read posts like this, that are very infrequent thankfully, my heart just sinks.
What an awful ordeal for you both. And well done for how you reacted and coped with the whole thing.
My prayers are with you @AB_notifying your friend and @Nolan.

I know as others have said, that these attacks do take place on a variety of Caminos, but why does it seem we hear more about them in Portugal?

Thank you @peregrina2000 and @Rodrigo Cerqueira for initiating further action.
 
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AB_notifying

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Walked Camino Frances'15 and Camino del Norte'16. Began Camino Portugues '20.
Thank you, everyone, for this outpouring of support and empathy. Thank you to @peregrina2000 and @Rodrigo Cerqueira for helping direct and coordinate further steps and resources. And especially thank you to @Yolan for her incredible strength and bravery about the important information provided.

We are grateful for the response of this community. I do think that awareness-raising and pressure can help change the climate that allows such violence to be perpetrated with much less deterrence, prevention, and follow-up than is necessary. (And poorly-sourced mischaracterizations and minimizations like those in the Daily Mail article do little to help--it is incredible the EMT involved spoke to the press and divulged personal details). For now, we will be doing what we can in the backdrop with contact and communication with authorities to help assist awareness-raising efforts coordinated by some of the amazing individuals in this community. But truly, none of this would have been possible without seeking help on this thread, and we feel so much less alone. We hope to carry this momentum to achieve the most change we can in this situation, and though the road ahead is unknown, action is beginning.
 

Pelegrin

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Primitivo June 2013
SJPP - Logroño June 2014
Ingles July2016
I know as others have said, that these attacks do take place on a variety of Caminos, but why does it seem we hear more about them in Portugal

Maybe because the Portugues is the only camino with two big metropolitan areas (Lisbon and Porto) and a significant number of pilgrims.
 

pelerine

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Norte 10, Primitivo 13, Plata 14+15, Salvador 16, Torres 17, Portugues 18, Mozarabe 19
What happened to you and the your friend can’t be undone. But we(pilgrim association) can try to pressure the government to react internally in a more effective manner to catch the offender and avoid similar problems to other pilgrims. Your collaboration with us hopefully is a positive action to avoid more assaults.
About the Portuguese police, probably the language barrier limited his actions. So they tried to keep it simple. In Portugal we have Tourism police. If you allow me I’m going to send them a copy of your complain.

A Portuguese equivalent of the Spanish AlertCop app would help, I think. I have walked alone most of my caminos and luckily never had a problem. But I have the AlertCop app prominently on the front page of my phone.
 

mikebet

Member
Camino(s) past & future
SJPdP to Pamplona (2016); Baiona to Santiago (2018); Sarria to Santiago (2018)
Since local authorities seem reluctant to deal with this matter (and apparently past incidents) in any meaningful way the only recourse is to bring it to the attention of higher authorities. I would certainly write to the Justice Ministry with an account, along with a copy to our ambassador in Lisbon asking that he/she make appropriate inquiries as to what is being done to assure the safety of his/her citizens. This is, after all, one of the primary responsibilities of the embassy and does not constitute an inappropriate intrusion in local matters. If our ambassador makes a representation to the gov't of Portugal you can be sure someone in a position of authority will take notice, particularly since they will have an obligation to respond to the embassy's official call or diplomatic note with some evidence of appropriate action or at least interest which will be communicated to local officials. This is especially relevant at this time when European countries are reeling economically from diminished tourism and any unfavorable publicity is the last thing they need. I offer this advice as a retired US diplomat who has seen what a little official pressure can do to raise the profile of an issue.
 

Yolan

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances ( 2015) camino portuques (2017)
Op 12-4-2016 begon ik mijn Camino vanuit Lissabon naar Santiago. Het was mijn verjaardag en die had ik gevierd dat weekend met mijn man in Lissabon. Mijn 1e dag zou ik stoppen in Sacavem. Toen ik door een park liep kwam er vaak dezelfde hardloper voorbij. Later toen ik stilstond op een brug stond hij ineens naast me en vroeg of hij kon helpen. Hij sprak Engels. Ik liep het pad verder langs een garage. Het was 14.00 uur. Toen ik terug wilde gaan omdat ik dacht dat ik fout liep werd ik besprongen op mijn rug door een man met een bivakmuts. Niet dezelfde man...Ik kon niets meer doen. Hij riep geld, geld ... en toen hij mijn heuptasje zag, rukte hij het af. ondertussen schreeuwde en gilde ik, hij sloeg me zo hard en sleurde me heen en weer over de grond. Toen vroeg hij naar mn pincode. Ik wijgerde het te geven en toen zette hij een mes op mn keel. Ook probeerde hij me te wurgen met het koord van een plastic mapje dat ik om mn hals droeg. Ik gaf hem de code. Toen rukte hij mn kleren van me af en begon de verkrachting. Het was een beest. Eén keer liep hij zelfs weg en krabbelde ik overeind maar hij dook weer op me en alles begon opnieuw. Hij spuugde op mij en soms deed hij even de bivakmuts omhoog. Ik probeerde te kijken en dingen te onthouden. Maar ik mocht niet kijken, hij begon weer met stompen. Later liep hij weg alsof er niets was gebeurd. Helaas kwam er niemand voorbij op dat moment. Ik ben naar de garage gelopen, met alleen een klein handdoekje dat hij niet meegenomen had en schreeuwde om hulp. Ik zal het verhaal wat inkorten. De mensen van de garage belden de politie, na veel vragen kwam de brandweer die me naar het ziekenhuis van lissabon bracht. Ze waren vriendelijk. Er moest veel getest en onderzocht en ik heb me nog nooit zo eenzaam gevoeld. Er was wel DNA van de dader. In de nacht bracht de politie me naar het adres wat ik had geboekt. Vriendelijke mensen. .maar door de taal konden we niet praten. Mijn man had ik gebeld. Die kwam met de auto met onze zoon naar Lissabon. Ze hadden contact met de ambassade opgenomen. Iemand kwam s nachts nog wat kleding en ondergoed brengen want ik had niets. Volgende dag werd ik door 2 vrouwen van de politie opgehaald om op het bureau te proberen een foto te herkennen van de dader. Dat kon ik niet. Het was een Afrikaanse man, rond de 35, maar ik kon geen dader aanwijzen. Toen later mijn man en zoon kwamen zijn we naar Holland gereden. Ik was helemaal kapot. Thuis heb ik hulp gezocht, maar niets was passend. Ik heb mezelf genezen. Ik moest veel naar het ziekenhuis vanwege aandoeningen door de verkrachting. Ik ben een positief mens. Ik wilde verder leven. Stap voor stap. En ik heb weer gelopen op de camino. Maar ik ben niet meer dezelfde vrouw. Ik heb een PTTS opgelopen. Maar het leven is weer de moeite waard. Ik had recht op een kleine schadevergoeding. Er was veel schade en kosten. Dit is toegekend via de portugese overheid in Lissabon. Het is toegezegd maar ik wacht er nog steeds op.

Ik dank jullie voor het lezen van mijn verkorte verhaal.

An ENGLISH TRANSLATION can be found on Google Chrome or other translation program.

On 4/12/2016 I started my Camino from Lisbon to Santiago. It was my birthday and I celebrated it that weekend with my husband in Lisbon. My 1st day I would stop in Sacavem. When I was walking through a park, the same runner often passed by. Later when I stopped on a bridge he suddenly stood next to me and asked if he could help. He spoke english. I continued down the path past a garage. It was 2:00 pm. When I wanted to go back because I thought I was going wrong, I was jumped on my back by a man in a balaclava. Not the same man ... I couldn't do anything more. He called money, money ... and when he saw my fanny pack, he ripped it off. meanwhile I screamed and screamed, he hit me so hard and dragged me back and forth on the ground. Then he asked for my pin code. I refused to give it and then he put a knife to my throat. He also tried to strangle me with the string of a plastic folder that I wore around my neck. I gave him the code. Then he ripped off my clothes and the rape started. It was an animal. Once he even walked away and I scrambled to my feet but he popped up on me again and everything started again. He spat on me and sometimes he put up the balaclava. I tried to watch and remember things. But I was not allowed to watch, he started punching again. Later he walked away as if nothing had happened. Unfortunately no one came by at that time. I walked to the garage, with only a small towel he didn't bring and screamed for help. I'll shorten the story a bit. The people from the garage called the police, after many questions the fire brigade came and took me to the hospital of lisbon. They were friendly. A lot of testing and research had to be done and I have never felt so lonely. There was DNA from the culprit. During the night the police brought me to the address I booked. Friendly people. but because of the language we couldn't speak. I called my husband. He came by car with our son to Lisbon. They had contacted the embassy. Someone came at night to bring some clothes and underwear because I had nothing. The next day I was picked up by 2 women of the police to try to recognize a photo of the perpetrator on the desk. I couldn't. It was an African man, around 35, but I could not identify a culprit. When my husband and son came later, we drove to Holland. I was completely devastated. At home I sought help, but nothing was appropriate. I healed myself. I had to go to hospital a lot because of rape conditions. I am a positive person. I wanted to live on. Step-by-step. And I walked the camino again. But I am not the same woman anymore. I got a PTTS. But life is worth living again. I was entitled to small compensation. There was a lot of damage and costs. This has been granted through the Portuguese government in Lisbon. It's been promised but I'm still waiting for it.

Thank you for reading my short story.
 
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malingerer

samarkand
Camino(s) past & future
cf (2), de la plata, cp. (2003 -2018)
The day that alleged newspaper prints the truth will be a cold day in hell.


agree with one addition: a very LONG COLD DAY ETC.

I have the utmost respect and admiration for my fellow pilgrims especially women as alas they suffer more than most from unwanted attention to put it mildly. I will not add platitudes to their suffering but I hope I live to see the day they continue their Camino. Buen Camino and Vaya con Dios .

samarkand
 
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Norte and Frances Sept 6 - Oct 11, 2016
Hello everyone,

This is a difficult story, but as it happened only three days ago, it is important for people to be aware and I would appreciate help (the report is filed with the police, but was seemingly not taken very seriously) with further resources or steps to take.

The short version is: on September 16, 2020, at 6:30pm, my friend and I, two female pilgrims, were attacked on the Camino on a field after Alpriarte, below the E1 highway, at knifepoint. I was in a chokehold and the attacker had the knife to my throat while dragging me into the field. He was carrying duct tape. As a result of intense physical struggle, on and off the ground as I fought the attacker, with my friend rushing towards him to help me, she was stabbed in the wrist by the attacker. The gushing blood startled the attacker, which allowed us to run away and seek help and get an ambulance and the police.

The police only took a vague report without asking many questions, and we were focused on getting to the hospital. The next day, we returned to the police station hoping to follow up with the help of our accommodation hosts, and learned another local girl had been attacked this subsequent day (9/17). The police made us wait until they finished dinner to be allowed to enter the station, after which we waited another hour. Then a report was filed after a long hour of us reporting our biographical data, but few questions about the attack were asked. The investigation is not active. That's why I am posting the event here to notify the pilgrim community of this occurrence, in hope to raise awareness and improve prevention and support efforts for such crimes.

We made the decision to stop walking this Camino in order to process the trauma. I completed two Caminos in Spain before and love the Camino deeply; I hope to continue drawing strength from it.

I am including the full account below for record keeping and in hope anyone has advice about what more can be done with this information.

----

On Wednesday September 16th, 2020, B (female friend, name redacted) and I (also female, both of us 27 years of age) set out to walk the Camino de Santiago from Lisbon. We had planned for a long walking day of 35km, ending in Vila Franca de Xira. We left Lisbon at 10:15am, retrieved our credentials from the Sé Cathedral, and began walking out of Lisbon, following the yellow arrows. Gradually, we moved north from the industrial and development zones along the Tagus River and reached more rural townships as the day progressed.

By 6pm, we were following the inland route in a valley west of Savacem, and passed through a very small village called Granja, then another called Alpriarte and were following the dirt trail along the fields. We were seen by various people along the small towns we passed, including a gathering of men in Granja, though this might be of no relevance to the assault.

We crossed R. Combatentes de Grande Guerra, a road with many cars waiting to cross a tunnel going under the E1 national highway. The Camino path continued in a field to the left, parallel to the highway, which was built at a height so that it was not possible for the cars to see the path.

B had planned to take a call from her friend, and asked me if I minded that she walked ahead while she talked. She said she wouldn’t be ahead too far, and would keep me in visible distance. There was another area of dense bamboo (corn stalk?) bushes with a little wooden bridge. B was only a short distance ahead of me, but I momentarily lost sight of her as she walked across that bridge. Right before I was about to cross the bamboo bush/ bridge area myself, I saw a man to my left, coming out of the bushes. He was wearing a blue facemask, long dark pants, and a black t-shirt with colorful neon (blue, green, pink) graphics. He had brown skin and short black hair, but his ethnicity was ambiguous. He looked to be about 30. I walked quickly around the bend. Thankfully, B was sitting on a stone platform there right behind the tall green stalks, still on the phone with her friend. I told her “there is a man behind us. This all took the course of just a few seconds, and I knew the man would be coming up right behind us. We moved just a few meters away from the bridge/bush area and stood aside so he could pass us on the trail.

The next moment was perhaps the most terrible of the attack, when I saw that the man was a mere few steps behind me, making eye contact with me and taking fast big steps straight towards me with an intention of harm. In the next few seconds, the man put me in a chokehold, with his left arm around my neck, and B and I both screamed. In his right arm he had a knife, with a small black handle and a pointy, double-edged blade, which he brought to my neck. He did not ask for money or mention us giving him belongings; he told B to get down on the ground. B was standing a few meters away, telling him to put down the knife; it was clear that she was pleading or negotiating, but not getting down on the ground, and he repeated the command, increasingly agitated. I said: “I’ll give you money,” in hope that this was what he was after, but the man ignored that statement, and commanded again for B to get down on the ground. He might already have been dragging me off the path and into the bushes then, but I cannot remember. I just know that, in my head, his command to B made me think of me or the two of us being raped and killed in the bushes, and that this was not a mugging where the man would take our possessions and leave. I started struggling intensely, screaming at the top of my lungs and trying to get out of the chokehold, and the man made a movement with his knife towards my chest and ordered me to stop screaming with alarm in his voice. He was speaking this in some English with an unknown accent. I continued struggling, biting him. This is when he started dragging me violently towards the field, my head still in a chokehold, and I was screaming wildly and trying to hit and push him with all my might, and he stopped dragging me to instead try to force me down to the ground, still with me in a chokehold, leaning his weight on me, and I stumbled to my knees and was halfway on the ground but was trying to get back up at all costs. My backpack felt incredibly heavy, and getting up was incredibly difficult as he had his weight on me, and I must have succeeded in half-getting up just to be pushed down again a few times. I felt incredibly hopeless. I remember pushing him and hitting him but it felt like it was with so little force and effect that it was useless, but i just kept screaming no at the top of my lungs while pushing him. At one point I must have been out of the chokehold because I remember him somewhat facing me, swinging a fist to my face. It was hard to register where B was during this physical struggle as I was so focused on not being pushed down to the ground, but I knew she was near, and at one point I remember seeing her to my left as I pushed the man, and I think for a moment he did stumble backward but he did not fall to the ground but came back for me and was pushing me down to the ground again. But this is about when I sensed the situation changing, and the man letting me go and taking a step backwards and B screaming for me to run. I stumbled away when I was freed, and saw that the man was stepping away from B in some manner. B started running towards me and I started running again, and saw the man was not following us, though he was still standing at the spot. B was yelling at me that she was hurt, and that is when I registered the blood on her hand and legs, and she lifted her wrist, which had duct tape around it and was bloodied.

Thankfully a road was only a minute away and we waved to two passing cars for help, B pointing to her blood, but the cars did not stop for us. There was a car repair garage of some kind across this country road, and we ran there, and I was praying it’d be open and there’d be people there, and thankfully there were. We ran in shouting for them to call the police and ambulance. When the ambulance was finally here and the medics came over and took B to the back of the ambulance. There was one police man here, taking notes that one of the young men helping us who spoke the best English was translating, asking for the physical descriptions of the man. I wasn’t paying much attention to the police, he took some notes for probably fives minutes and asked for B’s passport and where we were staying tonight, but he wasn’t asking too many relevant questions related to any investigation, and I remember thinking he was just taking notes for the record and doing little else. But I wasn’t thinking too much about this at the time. Another man had joined the crowd and was a middle aged man in running shoes, and perhaps he had been on the path some minutes behind us and had now come upon this commotion, and when he heard my physical description of the man he said he thought he’d seen him on a bicycle, perhaps biking away after the attack, but I am not sure the police man took note.


We still had the attacker’s backpack strap (ripped off during the struggle) and duct tape (that he’d pulled from his pants), because B had picked them up before running away. We had little hopes that the police would use this evidence, but the next day, we discussed wanting to follow-up if only for our own mental peace. At around 8pm that night, we talked to our hosts about wanting to re-contact the police and needing their help with translation. Our hosts called the Vila Franca police; they said they knew nothing of the incident, but we could come to the station tonight if we wanted. We drove to the station at 8:30pm, with our hosts talking across the gate to a police man standing guard. The policeman asked us about the physical description of the man, still across the gate and with no sign of letting us in and making a statement. When he heard the description, he told our hosts that a young woman, a school girl, had been attacked at 6pm this night (9/17), just a couple hours prior, by a man fitting a similar description. He said it was therefore important we come in and give our account, but said the policemen were eating dinner and the dinner shouldn’t be interrupted at the end of a workday, so we should come back at 10pm. I was shocked and angered by this, and shaken by the news that another woman had been attacked.

At 10 pm we returned to the station and were let in the gates, and sat in the waiting area for about 50 minutes, while nothing at all was happening in the station and various policemen were just ambling about. We could see the chief or an officer through a glass office, and after nearly an hour he finally waved us in. He hardly asked us any relevant questions about the attack, and spent the next hour typing down our passport information, parents’ names, address etc for the record. He asked us whether we wanted to press charges, though we’d need to be in the country and able to be summoned to court for that, and we said we’d come in to give an account of what happened so the police could be aware and take action, not for legal proceedings. In the end, the chief spent an hour typing up the report, with only minimal details, many of which were wrong, including the date of attack as 9/17 and not 9/16 (we took a picture of the police report, he let us, nearly laughing).

We left the police station exhausted and demoralized, but steadfast that it was worth it if only to get something actually on the record, and get the fact that the events happened in the police’s head, at least. It was difficult to think about the man, if he indeed was the person who attacked the school girl, being still active and on the limb. But we were grateful for our hosts and their help in the situation. We never gave the police the backpack strap or duct tape because when we took them out, the chief nearly laughed again and made it clear they did not want them.

The next day we left Vila Franca, as we decided not to continue our walk.
I am so sorry.
 

peregrina2000

Moderator
Staff member
Just to say once again that the purpose of this thread is to support AB and her walking companion as they continue to work to shine the spotlight on the crime and on the police reaction. It is not a place to make off the cuff comparisons about comparative crime rates.

The forum is a collection of ANECDOTES, it is not a scientifically culled body of evidence. I walked the Portugues from Lisbon in 2008, after having been flashed numerous times on the Francés, after having heard of a number of sexual assaults near Logroño and accompanying police indifference, and after seeing a pilgrim run into an albergue on the meseta freaked out about a guy who had jumped out at her. Nothing happened to me in Portugal. But I don’t think that means I had any idea about the relative safety of the two countries.

There were a few years when we heard repeatedly about crime on the Vdlp leaving Sevilla. The guilty were caught and no one has posted anything worrisome about that first stage in years. I am not dismissing this horrible crime as a “to be expected” part of a cycle, but I think it is a mistake to generalize.
 
Camino(s) past & future
cycled from Pamplona Sep 2015;Frances, walked from St Jean May/June 2017. Plans to walk Porto 2020
Hola 😖😢,Ab & Friend
About 5 or 6 years ago, I along with a number of other pilgrims assured a worried mother that her 18/19 year-old son would be more than safe on the Camino. Then came the terrible events of April 2015 (around Astorga on the Frances).
Your experience may be as a result of the changes in economic circumstances stemming from the COVID19. I am not in any way excusing the actions of this individual, only trying to understand him
As Peregrina2000 has posted the actions (in more correctly apparent inaction) of the Portuguese police is out of character. One would have hoped that they would have taken your complaint far more seriously, especially when a weapon (knife) was used.
I also salute your bravery (both of you) in fighting off your attacker.
Hopefully pilgrim organisations within Portugal will have more influence over the police and this man will be found.
I can not tell you how the deal with this experience, but I do recommend that you consider professional health if you feel the need.
To conclude, please do not this event blight any future camino endeavours. Return to Portugal (maybe start in Porto) and walk into Santiago with your heads held high. A very special Buen Camino!!😀😃😀
 

CAJohn

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances Sept/Oct 2019
Dear AB and Yolan

i am so glad that both of you and AB‘s friend survived these attacks. I also hope that the poor schoolgirl also survived. All of you will carry this experience with you during your lives and I hope you can access help to process this horrible trauma.

When dealing with police over something this important, the best English speaker present (unless excellent) isn’t good enough. It is important for clarity and makes it easier for both sides if appropriate translation is available. The Daily Mail got the story wrong from an EMS source who heard what he heard. It makes me wonder what the police thought they heard. The police should be able to call a translator, or failing that, your country’s embassy/consulate may be able to help with excellent translation. Failing all that, writing your complaint in English and translating in online and giving both copies to the police of your story can provide a good place to start. Yolan’s English translation from Dutch told all of us her story.

If police do not appear to take a story seriously, particularly if there is a possibility of dismissing violence again women, reporting it directly to the regional or national police or the regional prosecutor or national justice department might make a difference. Also some governments have specific departments like the French Department of Equality for Men and Women that might help. Also, local or national organizations that advocate for women’s rights may be very helpful.

In this case, you now have Rodrigo on your case. I think that this will be pursued and taken seriously.

I sincerely hope they catch this guy. He is organized, prepared, experienced and successful in committing his crimes. He is not going to stop until he is stopped.
 
Camino(s) past & future
CF SJPdP to SdC
(May 2015)
CF Sarria to SdC
(May 2016)
CF SJPDP-SdC
(Apr/May 2018)
VdlP (2022)
Op 12-4-2016 begon ik mijn Camino vanuit Lissabon naar Santiago. Het was mijn verjaardag en die had ik gevierd dat weekend met mijn man in Lissabon. Mijn 1e dag zou ik stoppen in Sacavem. Toen ik door een park liep kwam er vaak dezelfde hardloper voorbij. Later toen ik stilstond op een brug stond hij ineens naast me en vroeg of hij kon helpen. Hij sprak Engels. Ik liep het pad verder langs een garage. Het was 14.00 uur. Toen ik terug wilde gaan omdat ik dacht dat ik fout liep werd ik besprongen op mijn rug door een man met een bivakmuts. Niet dezelfde man...Ik kon niets meer doen. Hij riep geld, geld ... en toen hij mijn heuptasje zag, rukte hij het af. ondertussen schreeuwde en gilde ik, hij sloeg me zo hard en sleurde me heen en weer over de grond. Toen vroeg hij naar mn pincode. Ik wijgerde het te geven en toen zette hij een mes op mn keel. Ook probeerde hij me te wurgen met het koord van een plastic mapje dat ik om mn hals droeg. Ik gaf hem de code. Toen rukte hij mn kleren van me af en begon de verkrachting. Het was een beest. Eén keer liep hij zelfs weg en krabbelde ik overeind maar hij dook weer op me en alles begon opnieuw. Hij spuugde op mij en soms deed hij even de bivakmuts omhoog. Ik probeerde te kijken en dingen te onthouden. Maar ik mocht niet kijken, hij begon weer met stompen. Later liep hij weg alsof er niets was gebeurd. Helaas kwam er niemand voorbij op dat moment. Ik ben naar de garage gelopen, met alleen een klein handdoekje dat hij niet meegenomen had en schreeuwde om hulp. Ik zal het verhaal wat inkorten. De mensen van de garage belden de politie, na veel vragen kwam de brandweer die me naar het ziekenhuis van lissabon bracht. Ze waren vriendelijk. Er moest veel getest en onderzocht en ik heb me nog nooit zo eenzaam gevoeld. Er was wel DNA van de dader. In de nacht bracht de politie me naar het adres wat ik had geboekt. Vriendelijke mensen. .maar door de taal konden we niet praten. Mijn man had ik gebeld. Die kwam met de auto met onze zoon naar Lissabon. Ze hadden contact met de ambassade opgenomen. Iemand kwam s nachts nog wat kleding en ondergoed brengen want ik had niets. Volgende dag werd ik door 2 vrouwen van de politie opgehaald om op het bureau te proberen een foto te herkennen van de dader. Dat kon ik niet. Het was een Afrikaanse man, rond de 35, maar ik kon geen dader aanwijzen. Toen later mijn man en zoon kwamen zijn we naar Holland gereden. Ik was helemaal kapot. Thuis heb ik hulp gezocht, maar niets was passend. Ik heb mezelf genezen. Ik moest veel naar het ziekenhuis vanwege aandoeningen door de verkrachting. Ik ben een positief mens. Ik wilde verder leven. Stap voor stap. En ik heb weer gelopen op de camino. Maar ik ben niet meer dezelfde vrouw. Ik heb een PTTS opgelopen. Maar het leven is weer de moeite waard. Ik had recht op een kleine schadevergoeding. Er was veel schade en kosten. Dit is toegekend via de portugese overheid in Lissabon. Het is toegezegd maar ik wacht er nog steeds op.

Ik dank jullie voor het lezen van mijn verkorte verhaal.

An ENGLISH TRANSLATION can be found on Google Chrome or other translation program.

On 4/12/2016 I started my Camino from Lisbon to Santiago. It was my birthday and I celebrated it that weekend with my husband in Lisbon. My 1st day I would stop in Sacavem. When I was walking through a park, the same runner often passed by. Later when I stopped on a bridge he suddenly stood next to me and asked if he could help. He spoke english. I continued down the path past a garage. It was 2:00 pm. When I wanted to go back because I thought I was going wrong, I was jumped on my back by a man in a balaclava. Not the same man ... I couldn't do anything more. He called money, money ... and when he saw my fanny pack, he ripped it off. meanwhile I screamed and screamed, he hit me so hard and dragged me back and forth on the ground. Then he asked for my pin code. I refused to give it and then he put a knife to my throat. He also tried to strangle me with the string of a plastic folder that I wore around my neck. I gave him the code. Then he ripped off my clothes and the rape started. It was an animal. Once he even walked away and I scrambled to my feet but he popped up on me again and everything started again. He spat on me and sometimes he put up the balaclava. I tried to watch and remember things. But I was not allowed to watch, he started punching again. Later he walked away as if nothing had happened. Unfortunately no one came by at that time. I walked to the garage, with only a small towel he didn't bring and screamed for help. I'll shorten the story a bit. The people from the garage called the police, after many questions the fire brigade came and took me to the hospital of lisbon. They were friendly. A lot of testing and research had to be done and I have never felt so lonely. There was DNA from the culprit. During the night the police brought me to the address I booked. Friendly people. but because of the language we couldn't speak. I called my husband. He came by car with our son to Lisbon. They had contacted the embassy. Someone came at night to bring some clothes and underwear because I had nothing. The next day I was picked up by 2 women of the police to try to recognize a photo of the perpetrator on the desk. I couldn't. It was an African man, around 35, but I could not identify a culprit. When my husband and son came later, we drove to Holland. I was completely devastated. At home I sought help, but nothing was appropriate. I healed myself. I had to go to hospital a lot because of rape conditions. I am a positive person. I wanted to live on. Step-by-step. And I walked the camino again. But I am not the same woman anymore. I got a PTTS. But life is worth living again. I was entitled to small compensation. There was a lot of damage and costs. This has been granted through the Portuguese government in Lisbon. It's been promised but I'm still waiting for it.

Thank you for reading my short story.

My Dear @Yolan . Thank you for sharing your heart breaking story. It's only through the bravery of women like yourself and others that these devastating crimes can be made known to the community at large and more importantly to the authorities. As others have pointed out, the attitudes of local Police can vary. Let's hope we can make enough noise that things change where they need to. As a male, I struggle to understand how anyone could do such a thing to another human being. You have my prayers.
 

peregrina2000

Moderator
Staff member
For anyone setting out in the near future, walking in the vicinity of AB’s attack seems very risky. One easy way to avoid this section would be to walk from the cathedral to Parque Naçoes, and there hop on a commuter train to Vila Franca. Getting off in Alverca or Alhandra (several stops before) would also be an option,because those towns are beyond the area where the attack happened.

There are of course many ways to do this, but one possible first day would be to walk the 7 km to Parque Naçoes, take the train to Alverca, then walk the 9 km to Vila Franca. People who like long distances could add on the next 20 to arrive in Azambuja. Gronze makes all of this very clear, and the commuter train schedule is easy to understand.

We are hopeful that the responsible parties will be apprehended and brought to justice, but until that time, exercise extreme caution or better yet, take the train.
 

zimmecp

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Summer 2017
I am so sorry to read of your experience....but thank you for sharing (as well as Yolan). Perhaps this will empower others to come forward and the outcry will be loud enough to affect a change.

Edited to add: I am not sure of your nationality - but from your english you seem to be from an english speaking country. Did you report this to your embassy? (Also, @Yolan - Did you report to your embassy?) I know having to tell and retell the story is awful. But - this could really help put the pressure on the locals.

Here is the example from the American Embassy website.

 
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Kiwi-family

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Past: (2012, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2018)-Frances, Baztan, San Salvador, Primitivo, Fisterra,VdlP, Madrid
Is anyone familiar with Avaaz? I am wondering if a petition on their platform might be useful.
I think anyone can set one up - but it should not be done without the permission of @AB_notifying and @Yolan if their particular stories are to be mentioned.

https://secure.avaaz.org/page/en/about/
 

Kch

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
French Camino competed (2019)
Portuguese Camino maybe (2020)
Thank you so much for having the strength and making the time to report to this forum . Other women will be safer because of your effort.
There is nothing else I can say right now but I will continue to check back with these boards in the hope of joining or starting an effort to raise awareness. I have already felt the negative influence this story has had on me - The Camino's are a very special gift to humankind formed over a millennia , this cannot be lost due to the appalling acts of a few individuals or lack of interest by the countries governing bodies .... If that is the case we need a big spotlight on this.
 

Yolan

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances ( 2015) camino portuques (2017)
Hi zimmecp,
I am from the Nederlands. Yes, i had contact with the ambassade in Holland and also in Portugal. I believe, i did everything for getting good help. Buth, i think now there is coming real help. I will help, also for other women.
Thank you so mutch for your support.
 

Leon RSA

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances - Aug 2019
Hello everyone,

This is a difficult story, but as it happened only three days ago, it is important for people to be aware and I would appreciate help (the report is filed with the police, but was seemingly not taken very seriously) with further resources or steps to take.

The short version is: on September 16, 2020, at 6:30pm, my friend and I, two female pilgrims, were attacked on the Camino on a field after Alpriarte, below the E1 highway, at knifepoint. I was in a chokehold and the attacker had the knife to my throat while dragging me into the field. He was carrying duct tape. As a result of intense physical struggle, on and off the ground as I fought the attacker, with my friend rushing towards him to help me, she was stabbed in the wrist by the attacker. The gushing blood startled the attacker, which allowed us to run away and seek help and get an ambulance and the police.

The police only took a vague report without asking many questions, and we were focused on getting to the hospital. The next day, we returned to the police station hoping to follow up with the help of our accommodation hosts, and learned another local girl had been attacked this subsequent day (9/17). The police made us wait until they finished dinner to be allowed to enter the station, after which we waited another hour. Then a report was filed after a long hour of us reporting our biographical data, but few questions about the attack were asked. The investigation is not active. That's why I am posting the event here to notify the pilgrim community of this occurrence, in hope to raise awareness and improve prevention and support efforts for such crimes.

We made the decision to stop walking this Camino in order to process the trauma. I completed two Caminos in Spain before and love the Camino deeply; I hope to continue drawing strength from it.

I am including the full account below for record keeping and in hope anyone has advice about what more can be done with this information.

----

On Wednesday September 16th, 2020, B (female friend, name redacted) and I (also female, both of us 27 years of age) set out to walk the Camino de Santiago from Lisbon. We had planned for a long walking day of 35km, ending in Vila Franca de Xira. We left Lisbon at 10:15am, retrieved our credentials from the Sé Cathedral, and began walking out of Lisbon, following the yellow arrows. Gradually, we moved north from the industrial and development zones along the Tagus River and reached more rural townships as the day progressed.

By 6pm, we were following the inland route in a valley west of Savacem, and passed through a very small village called Granja, then another called Alpriarte and were following the dirt trail along the fields. We were seen by various people along the small towns we passed, including a gathering of men in Granja, though this might be of no relevance to the assault.

We crossed R. Combatentes de Grande Guerra, a road with many cars waiting to cross a tunnel going under the E1 national highway. The Camino path continued in a field to the left, parallel to the highway, which was built at a height so that it was not possible for the cars to see the path.

B had planned to take a call from her friend, and asked me if I minded that she walked ahead while she talked. She said she wouldn’t be ahead too far, and would keep me in visible distance. There was another area of dense bamboo (corn stalk?) bushes with a little wooden bridge. B was only a short distance ahead of me, but I momentarily lost sight of her as she walked across that bridge. Right before I was about to cross the bamboo bush/ bridge area myself, I saw a man to my left, coming out of the bushes. He was wearing a blue facemask, long dark pants, and a black t-shirt with colorful neon (blue, green, pink) graphics. He had brown skin and short black hair, but his ethnicity was ambiguous. He looked to be about 30. I walked quickly around the bend. Thankfully, B was sitting on a stone platform there right behind the tall green stalks, still on the phone with her friend. I told her “there is a man behind us. This all took the course of just a few seconds, and I knew the man would be coming up right behind us. We moved just a few meters away from the bridge/bush area and stood aside so he could pass us on the trail.

The next moment was perhaps the most terrible of the attack, when I saw that the man was a mere few steps behind me, making eye contact with me and taking fast big steps straight towards me with an intention of harm. In the next few seconds, the man put me in a chokehold, with his left arm around my neck, and B and I both screamed. In his right arm he had a knife, with a small black handle and a pointy, double-edged blade, which he brought to my neck. He did not ask for money or mention us giving him belongings; he told B to get down on the ground. B was standing a few meters away, telling him to put down the knife; it was clear that she was pleading or negotiating, but not getting down on the ground, and he repeated the command, increasingly agitated. I said: “I’ll give you money,” in hope that this was what he was after, but the man ignored that statement, and commanded again for B to get down on the ground. He might already have been dragging me off the path and into the bushes then, but I cannot remember. I just know that, in my head, his command to B made me think of me or the two of us being raped and killed in the bushes, and that this was not a mugging where the man would take our possessions and leave. I started struggling intensely, screaming at the top of my lungs and trying to get out of the chokehold, and the man made a movement with his knife towards my chest and ordered me to stop screaming with alarm in his voice. He was speaking this in some English with an unknown accent. I continued struggling, biting him. This is when he started dragging me violently towards the field, my head still in a chokehold, and I was screaming wildly and trying to hit and push him with all my might, and he stopped dragging me to instead try to force me down to the ground, still with me in a chokehold, leaning his weight on me, and I stumbled to my knees and was halfway on the ground but was trying to get back up at all costs. My backpack felt incredibly heavy, and getting up was incredibly difficult as he had his weight on me, and I must have succeeded in half-getting up just to be pushed down again a few times. I felt incredibly hopeless. I remember pushing him and hitting him but it felt like it was with so little force and effect that it was useless, but i just kept screaming no at the top of my lungs while pushing him. At one point I must have been out of the chokehold because I remember him somewhat facing me, swinging a fist to my face. It was hard to register where B was during this physical struggle as I was so focused on not being pushed down to the ground, but I knew she was near, and at one point I remember seeing her to my left as I pushed the man, and I think for a moment he did stumble backward but he did not fall to the ground but came back for me and was pushing me down to the ground again. But this is about when I sensed the situation changing, and the man letting me go and taking a step backwards and B screaming for me to run. I stumbled away when I was freed, and saw that the man was stepping away from B in some manner. B started running towards me and I started running again, and saw the man was not following us, though he was still standing at the spot. B was yelling at me that she was hurt, and that is when I registered the blood on her hand and legs, and she lifted her wrist, which had duct tape around it and was bloodied.

Thankfully a road was only a minute away and we waved to two passing cars for help, B pointing to her blood, but the cars did not stop for us. There was a car repair garage of some kind across this country road, and we ran there, and I was praying it’d be open and there’d be people there, and thankfully there were. We ran in shouting for them to call the police and ambulance. When the ambulance was finally here and the medics came over and took B to the back of the ambulance. There was one police man here, taking notes that one of the young men helping us who spoke the best English was translating, asking for the physical descriptions of the man. I wasn’t paying much attention to the police, he took some notes for probably fives minutes and asked for B’s passport and where we were staying tonight, but he wasn’t asking too many relevant questions related to any investigation, and I remember thinking he was just taking notes for the record and doing little else. But I wasn’t thinking too much about this at the time. Another man had joined the crowd and was a middle aged man in running shoes, and perhaps he had been on the path some minutes behind us and had now come upon this commotion, and when he heard my physical description of the man he said he thought he’d seen him on a bicycle, perhaps biking away after the attack, but I am not sure the police man took note.


We still had the attacker’s backpack strap (ripped off during the struggle) and duct tape (that he’d pulled from his pants), because B had picked them up before running away. We had little hopes that the police would use this evidence, but the next day, we discussed wanting to follow-up if only for our own mental peace. At around 8pm that night, we talked to our hosts about wanting to re-contact the police and needing their help with translation. Our hosts called the Vila Franca police; they said they knew nothing of the incident, but we could come to the station tonight if we wanted. We drove to the station at 8:30pm, with our hosts talking across the gate to a police man standing guard. The policeman asked us about the physical description of the man, still across the gate and with no sign of letting us in and making a statement. When he heard the description, he told our hosts that a young woman, a school girl, had been attacked at 6pm this night (9/17), just a couple hours prior, by a man fitting a similar description. He said it was therefore important we come in and give our account, but said the policemen were eating dinner and the dinner shouldn’t be interrupted at the end of a workday, so we should come back at 10pm. I was shocked and angered by this, and shaken by the news that another woman had been attacked.

At 10 pm we returned to the station and were let in the gates, and sat in the waiting area for about 50 minutes, while nothing at all was happening in the station and various policemen were just ambling about. We could see the chief or an officer through a glass office, and after nearly an hour he finally waved us in. He hardly asked us any relevant questions about the attack, and spent the next hour typing down our passport information, parents’ names, address etc for the record. He asked us whether we wanted to press charges, though we’d need to be in the country and able to be summoned to court for that, and we said we’d come in to give an account of what happened so the police could be aware and take action, not for legal proceedings. In the end, the chief spent an hour typing up the report, with only minimal details, many of which were wrong, including the date of attack as 9/17 and not 9/16 (we took a picture of the police report, he let us, nearly laughing).

We left the police station exhausted and demoralized, but steadfast that it was worth it if only to get something actually on the record, and get the fact that the events happened in the police’s head, at least. It was difficult to think about the man, if he indeed was the person who attacked the school girl, being still active and on the limb. But we were grateful for our hosts and their help in the situation. We never gave the police the backpack strap or duct tape because when we took them out, the chief nearly laughed again and made it clear they did not want them.

The next day we left Vila Franca, as we decided not to continue our walk.

To @AB_notifying, your friend B and to @Yolan. Thank you for having the strength and guts to share your gruesome experience with others. I can only imagine how difficult it must be for you to relive the nightmares. As a father of two daughters I shivered when I read your account of events and I feel ashamed that a fellow male did this to a female. I pray that you may be strengthened more to deal with the emotional scars. I salute you for being brave and willing to warn others. I plan to do the Portuguse Caminho from Lisbon in 2022 and your story may help me too in future.
 

Sosthenes

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Portuguese 2020
I grew up in Portugal and now live in the US. Portuguese are generally very friendly, helpful and law abiding people. These communities are pretty tightly knit so if the perpetrator is local people would know who he is.
 
Last edited by a moderator:

Robert Gomez

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Gibraltar -La Coruña (vía de la plata) 2010, Camino Portugués - 2012, Camino del Sureste- 2014
@AB_notifying, what an absolutely horrible experience - not only the attack, but also the police indifference. Unconscionable. I am so sorry this happened to you both and hope you are in a place that feels safe, where you can begin to process what has happened.

You did the right thing in reporting and now letting others know about this. Someone here might have an idea about how to get some officials to take this seriously. Certainly bad publicity might move a few people to get off thier duffs.
Dear AB and Yolan, I was sorry to hear about your experience on the Camino portugués. It must have been a very traumatic one for you both and I am delighted that through your strength and determination the evil perpetrator did not achieve his aim. Sadly the police in some countries leave a lot to be desired. You should feel proud that you have done all the right things both in reporting the crime and in warning others. You might consider sending your report to your embassy in Lisbon as many walkers check with them before undertaking the various Caminos. My wife and I did the coastal route some years ago and I checked with the British Embassy to find out if there were any problems on the route. Do not be discouraged by your experience. Perhaps if you decide to embark on another Camino you can do so with some friends in a group where you will feel safer. My thoughts and prayers are with you and the other young girl who by her account was also attacked and raped a few years ago.
 

Cary

Member
Camino(s) past & future
del Norte/Primitivo May 2019
Hello everyone,

This is a difficult story, but as it happened only three days ago, it is important for people to be aware and I would appreciate help (the report is filed with the police, but was seemingly not taken very seriously) with further resources or steps to take.

The short version is: on September 16, 2020, at 6:30pm, my friend and I, two female pilgrims, were attacked on the Camino on a field after Alpriarte, below the E1 highway, at knifepoint. I was in a chokehold and the attacker had the knife to my throat while dragging me into the field. He was carrying duct tape. As a result of intense physical struggle, on and off the ground as I fought the attacker, with my friend rushing towards him to help me, she was stabbed in the wrist by the attacker. The gushing blood startled the attacker, which allowed us to run away and seek help and get an ambulance and the police.

The police only took a vague report without asking many questions, and we were focused on getting to the hospital. The next day, we returned to the police station hoping to follow up with the help of our accommodation hosts, and learned another local girl had been attacked this subsequent day (9/17). The police made us wait until they finished dinner to be allowed to enter the station, after which we waited another hour. Then a report was filed after a long hour of us reporting our biographical data, but few questions about the attack were asked. The investigation is not active. That's why I am posting the event here to notify the pilgrim community of this occurrence, in hope to raise awareness and improve prevention and support efforts for such crimes.

We made the decision to stop walking this Camino in order to process the trauma. I completed two Caminos in Spain before and love the Camino deeply; I hope to continue drawing strength from it.

I am including the full account below for record keeping and in hope anyone has advice about what more can be done with this information.

----

On Wednesday September 16th, 2020, B (female friend, name redacted) and I (also female, both of us 27 years of age) set out to walk the Camino de Santiago from Lisbon. We had planned for a long walking day of 35km, ending in Vila Franca de Xira. We left Lisbon at 10:15am, retrieved our credentials from the Sé Cathedral, and began walking out of Lisbon, following the yellow arrows. Gradually, we moved north from the industrial and development zones along the Tagus River and reached more rural townships as the day progressed.

By 6pm, we were following the inland route in a valley west of Savacem, and passed through a very small village called Granja, then another called Alpriarte and were following the dirt trail along the fields. We were seen by various people along the small towns we passed, including a gathering of men in Granja, though this might be of no relevance to the assault.

We crossed R. Combatentes de Grande Guerra, a road with many cars waiting to cross a tunnel going under the E1 national highway. The Camino path continued in a field to the left, parallel to the highway, which was built at a height so that it was not possible for the cars to see the path.

B had planned to take a call from her friend, and asked me if I minded that she walked ahead while she talked. She said she wouldn’t be ahead too far, and would keep me in visible distance. There was another area of dense bamboo (corn stalk?) bushes with a little wooden bridge. B was only a short distance ahead of me, but I momentarily lost sight of her as she walked across that bridge. Right before I was about to cross the bamboo bush/ bridge area myself, I saw a man to my left, coming out of the bushes. He was wearing a blue facemask, long dark pants, and a black t-shirt with colorful neon (blue, green, pink) graphics. He had brown skin and short black hair, but his ethnicity was ambiguous. He looked to be about 30. I walked quickly around the bend. Thankfully, B was sitting on a stone platform there right behind the tall green stalks, still on the phone with her friend. I told her “there is a man behind us. This all took the course of just a few seconds, and I knew the man would be coming up right behind us. We moved just a few meters away from the bridge/bush area and stood aside so he could pass us on the trail.

The next moment was perhaps the most terrible of the attack, when I saw that the man was a mere few steps behind me, making eye contact with me and taking fast big steps straight towards me with an intention of harm. In the next few seconds, the man put me in a chokehold, with his left arm around my neck, and B and I both screamed. In his right arm he had a knife, with a small black handle and a pointy, double-edged blade, which he brought to my neck. He did not ask for money or mention us giving him belongings; he told B to get down on the ground. B was standing a few meters away, telling him to put down the knife; it was clear that she was pleading or negotiating, but not getting down on the ground, and he repeated the command, increasingly agitated. I said: “I’ll give you money,” in hope that this was what he was after, but the man ignored that statement, and commanded again for B to get down on the ground. He might already have been dragging me off the path and into the bushes then, but I cannot remember. I just know that, in my head, his command to B made me think of me or the two of us being raped and killed in the bushes, and that this was not a mugging where the man would take our possessions and leave. I started struggling intensely, screaming at the top of my lungs and trying to get out of the chokehold, and the man made a movement with his knife towards my chest and ordered me to stop screaming with alarm in his voice. He was speaking this in some English with an unknown accent. I continued struggling, biting him. This is when he started dragging me violently towards the field, my head still in a chokehold, and I was screaming wildly and trying to hit and push him with all my might, and he stopped dragging me to instead try to force me down to the ground, still with me in a chokehold, leaning his weight on me, and I stumbled to my knees and was halfway on the ground but was trying to get back up at all costs. My backpack felt incredibly heavy, and getting up was incredibly difficult as he had his weight on me, and I must have succeeded in half-getting up just to be pushed down again a few times. I felt incredibly hopeless. I remember pushing him and hitting him but it felt like it was with so little force and effect that it was useless, but i just kept screaming no at the top of my lungs while pushing him. At one point I must have been out of the chokehold because I remember him somewhat facing me, swinging a fist to my face. It was hard to register where B was during this physical struggle as I was so focused on not being pushed down to the ground, but I knew she was near, and at one point I remember seeing her to my left as I pushed the man, and I think for a moment he did stumble backward but he did not fall to the ground but came back for me and was pushing me down to the ground again. But this is about when I sensed the situation changing, and the man letting me go and taking a step backwards and B screaming for me to run. I stumbled away when I was freed, and saw that the man was stepping away from B in some manner. B started running towards me and I started running again, and saw the man was not following us, though he was still standing at the spot. B was yelling at me that she was hurt, and that is when I registered the blood on her hand and legs, and she lifted her wrist, which had duct tape around it and was bloodied.

Thankfully a road was only a minute away and we waved to two passing cars for help, B pointing to her blood, but the cars did not stop for us. There was a car repair garage of some kind across this country road, and we ran there, and I was praying it’d be open and there’d be people there, and thankfully there were. We ran in shouting for them to call the police and ambulance. When the ambulance was finally here and the medics came over and took B to the back of the ambulance. There was one police man here, taking notes that one of the young men helping us who spoke the best English was translating, asking for the physical descriptions of the man. I wasn’t paying much attention to the police, he took some notes for probably fives minutes and asked for B’s passport and where we were staying tonight, but he wasn’t asking too many relevant questions related to any investigation, and I remember thinking he was just taking notes for the record and doing little else. But I wasn’t thinking too much about this at the time. Another man had joined the crowd and was a middle aged man in running shoes, and perhaps he had been on the path some minutes behind us and had now come upon this commotion, and when he heard my physical description of the man he said he thought he’d seen him on a bicycle, perhaps biking away after the attack, but I am not sure the police man took note.


We still had the attacker’s backpack strap (ripped off during the struggle) and duct tape (that he’d pulled from his pants), because B had picked them up before running away. We had little hopes that the police would use this evidence, but the next day, we discussed wanting to follow-up if only for our own mental peace. At around 8pm that night, we talked to our hosts about wanting to re-contact the police and needing their help with translation. Our hosts called the Vila Franca police; they said they knew nothing of the incident, but we could come to the station tonight if we wanted. We drove to the station at 8:30pm, with our hosts talking across the gate to a police man standing guard. The policeman asked us about the physical description of the man, still across the gate and with no sign of letting us in and making a statement. When he heard the description, he told our hosts that a young woman, a school girl, had been attacked at 6pm this night (9/17), just a couple hours prior, by a man fitting a similar description. He said it was therefore important we come in and give our account, but said the policemen were eating dinner and the dinner shouldn’t be interrupted at the end of a workday, so we should come back at 10pm. I was shocked and angered by this, and shaken by the news that another woman had been attacked.

At 10 pm we returned to the station and were let in the gates, and sat in the waiting area for about 50 minutes, while nothing at all was happening in the station and various policemen were just ambling about. We could see the chief or an officer through a glass office, and after nearly an hour he finally waved us in. He hardly asked us any relevant questions about the attack, and spent the next hour typing down our passport information, parents’ names, address etc for the record. He asked us whether we wanted to press charges, though we’d need to be in the country and able to be summoned to court for that, and we said we’d come in to give an account of what happened so the police could be aware and take action, not for legal proceedings. In the end, the chief spent an hour typing up the report, with only minimal details, many of which were wrong, including the date of attack as 9/17 and not 9/16 (we took a picture of the police report, he let us, nearly laughing).

We left the police station exhausted and demoralized, but steadfast that it was worth it if only to get something actually on the record, and get the fact that the events happened in the police’s head, at least. It was difficult to think about the man, if he indeed was the person who attacked the school girl, being still active and on the limb. But we were grateful for our hosts and their help in the situation. We never gave the police the backpack strap or duct tape because when we took them out, the chief nearly laughed again and made it clear they did not want them.

The next day we left Vila Franca, as we decided not to continue our walk.
I have heard that Portugal is not a safe as Spain. I spent 5 days there after my Camino del Norte ended and could certainly feel a more macho sexist attitude there toward women. Your experience has convinced me to have a fellow pilgrim with me while walking at all times, especially if I walk that route in the future. May I say Well Done for protecting each other and fighting off your attacker. You are both inspiration for all women to stand tall and be strong.
 

Canuck Pilgrim

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
September 2017 Camino Frances
September 2019 Camino Frances
Hello everyone,

This is a difficult story, but as it happened only three days ago, it is important for people to be aware and I would appreciate help (the report is filed with the police, but was seemingly not taken very seriously) with further resources or steps to take.

The short version is: on September 16, 2020, at 6:30pm, my friend and I, two female pilgrims, were attacked on the Camino on a field after Alpriarte, below the E1 highway, at knifepoint. I was in a chokehold and the attacker had the knife to my throat while dragging me into the field. He was carrying duct tape. As a result of intense physical struggle, on and off the ground as I fought the attacker, with my friend rushing towards him to help me, she was stabbed in the wrist by the attacker. The gushing blood startled the attacker, which allowed us to run away and seek help and get an ambulance and the police.

The police only took a vague report without asking many questions, and we were focused on getting to the hospital. The next day, we returned to the police station hoping to follow up with the help of our accommodation hosts, and learned another local girl had been attacked this subsequent day (9/17). The police made us wait until they finished dinner to be allowed to enter the station, after which we waited another hour. Then a report was filed after a long hour of us reporting our biographical data, but few questions about the attack were asked. The investigation is not active. That's why I am posting the event here to notify the pilgrim community of this occurrence, in hope to raise awareness and improve prevention and support efforts for such crimes.

We made the decision to stop walking this Camino in order to process the trauma. I completed two Caminos in Spain before and love the Camino deeply; I hope to continue drawing strength from it.

I am including the full account below for record keeping and in hope anyone has advice about what more can be done with this information.

----

On Wednesday September 16th, 2020, B (female friend, name redacted) and I (also female, both of us 27 years of age) set out to walk the Camino de Santiago from Lisbon. We had planned for a long walking day of 35km, ending in Vila Franca de Xira. We left Lisbon at 10:15am, retrieved our credentials from the Sé Cathedral, and began walking out of Lisbon, following the yellow arrows. Gradually, we moved north from the industrial and development zones along the Tagus River and reached more rural townships as the day progressed.

By 6pm, we were following the inland route in a valley west of Savacem, and passed through a very small village called Granja, then another called Alpriarte and were following the dirt trail along the fields. We were seen by various people along the small towns we passed, including a gathering of men in Granja, though this might be of no relevance to the assault.

We crossed R. Combatentes de Grande Guerra, a road with many cars waiting to cross a tunnel going under the E1 national highway. The Camino path continued in a field to the left, parallel to the highway, which was built at a height so that it was not possible for the cars to see the path.

B had planned to take a call from her friend, and asked me if I minded that she walked ahead while she talked. She said she wouldn’t be ahead too far, and would keep me in visible distance. There was another area of dense bamboo (corn stalk?) bushes with a little wooden bridge. B was only a short distance ahead of me, but I momentarily lost sight of her as she walked across that bridge. Right before I was about to cross the bamboo bush/ bridge area myself, I saw a man to my left, coming out of the bushes. He was wearing a blue facemask, long dark pants, and a black t-shirt with colorful neon (blue, green, pink) graphics. He had brown skin and short black hair, but his ethnicity was ambiguous. He looked to be about 30. I walked quickly around the bend. Thankfully, B was sitting on a stone platform there right behind the tall green stalks, still on the phone with her friend. I told her “there is a man behind us. This all took the course of just a few seconds, and I knew the man would be coming up right behind us. We moved just a few meters away from the bridge/bush area and stood aside so he could pass us on the trail.

The next moment was perhaps the most terrible of the attack, when I saw that the man was a mere few steps behind me, making eye contact with me and taking fast big steps straight towards me with an intention of harm. In the next few seconds, the man put me in a chokehold, with his left arm around my neck, and B and I both screamed. In his right arm he had a knife, with a small black handle and a pointy, double-edged blade, which he brought to my neck. He did not ask for money or mention us giving him belongings; he told B to get down on the ground. B was standing a few meters away, telling him to put down the knife; it was clear that she was pleading or negotiating, but not getting down on the ground, and he repeated the command, increasingly agitated. I said: “I’ll give you money,” in hope that this was what he was after, but the man ignored that statement, and commanded again for B to get down on the ground. He might already have been dragging me off the path and into the bushes then, but I cannot remember. I just know that, in my head, his command to B made me think of me or the two of us being raped and killed in the bushes, and that this was not a mugging where the man would take our possessions and leave. I started struggling intensely, screaming at the top of my lungs and trying to get out of the chokehold, and the man made a movement with his knife towards my chest and ordered me to stop screaming with alarm in his voice. He was speaking this in some English with an unknown accent. I continued struggling, biting him. This is when he started dragging me violently towards the field, my head still in a chokehold, and I was screaming wildly and trying to hit and push him with all my might, and he stopped dragging me to instead try to force me down to the ground, still with me in a chokehold, leaning his weight on me, and I stumbled to my knees and was halfway on the ground but was trying to get back up at all costs. My backpack felt incredibly heavy, and getting up was incredibly difficult as he had his weight on me, and I must have succeeded in half-getting up just to be pushed down again a few times. I felt incredibly hopeless. I remember pushing him and hitting him but it felt like it was with so little force and effect that it was useless, but i just kept screaming no at the top of my lungs while pushing him. At one point I must have been out of the chokehold because I remember him somewhat facing me, swinging a fist to my face. It was hard to register where B was during this physical struggle as I was so focused on not being pushed down to the ground, but I knew she was near, and at one point I remember seeing her to my left as I pushed the man, and I think for a moment he did stumble backward but he did not fall to the ground but came back for me and was pushing me down to the ground again. But this is about when I sensed the situation changing, and the man letting me go and taking a step backwards and B screaming for me to run. I stumbled away when I was freed, and saw that the man was stepping away from B in some manner. B started running towards me and I started running again, and saw the man was not following us, though he was still standing at the spot. B was yelling at me that she was hurt, and that is when I registered the blood on her hand and legs, and she lifted her wrist, which had duct tape around it and was bloodied.

Thankfully a road was only a minute away and we waved to two passing cars for help, B pointing to her blood, but the cars did not stop for us. There was a car repair garage of some kind across this country road, and we ran there, and I was praying it’d be open and there’d be people there, and thankfully there were. We ran in shouting for them to call the police and ambulance. When the ambulance was finally here and the medics came over and took B to the back of the ambulance. There was one police man here, taking notes that one of the young men helping us who spoke the best English was translating, asking for the physical descriptions of the man. I wasn’t paying much attention to the police, he took some notes for probably fives minutes and asked for B’s passport and where we were staying tonight, but he wasn’t asking too many relevant questions related to any investigation, and I remember thinking he was just taking notes for the record and doing little else. But I wasn’t thinking too much about this at the time. Another man had joined the crowd and was a middle aged man in running shoes, and perhaps he had been on the path some minutes behind us and had now come upon this commotion, and when he heard my physical description of the man he said he thought he’d seen him on a bicycle, perhaps biking away after the attack, but I am not sure the police man took note.


We still had the attacker’s backpack strap (ripped off during the struggle) and duct tape (that he’d pulled from his pants), because B had picked them up before running away. We had little hopes that the police would use this evidence, but the next day, we discussed wanting to follow-up if only for our own mental peace. At around 8pm that night, we talked to our hosts about wanting to re-contact the police and needing their help with translation. Our hosts called the Vila Franca police; they said they knew nothing of the incident, but we could come to the station tonight if we wanted. We drove to the station at 8:30pm, with our hosts talking across the gate to a police man standing guard. The policeman asked us about the physical description of the man, still across the gate and with no sign of letting us in and making a statement. When he heard the description, he told our hosts that a young woman, a school girl, had been attacked at 6pm this night (9/17), just a couple hours prior, by a man fitting a similar description. He said it was therefore important we come in and give our account, but said the policemen were eating dinner and the dinner shouldn’t be interrupted at the end of a workday, so we should come back at 10pm. I was shocked and angered by this, and shaken by the news that another woman had been attacked.

At 10 pm we returned to the station and were let in the gates, and sat in the waiting area for about 50 minutes, while nothing at all was happening in the station and various policemen were just ambling about. We could see the chief or an officer through a glass office, and after nearly an hour he finally waved us in. He hardly asked us any relevant questions about the attack, and spent the next hour typing down our passport information, parents’ names, address etc for the record. He asked us whether we wanted to press charges, though we’d need to be in the country and able to be summoned to court for that, and we said we’d come in to give an account of what happened so the police could be aware and take action, not for legal proceedings. In the end, the chief spent an hour typing up the report, with only minimal details, many of which were wrong, including the date of attack as 9/17 and not 9/16 (we took a picture of the police report, he let us, nearly laughing).

We left the police station exhausted and demoralized, but steadfast that it was worth it if only to get something actually on the record, and get the fact that the events happened in the police’s head, at least. It was difficult to think about the man, if he indeed was the person who attacked the school girl, being still active and on the limb. But we were grateful for our hosts and their help in the situation. We never gave the police the backpack strap or duct tape because when we took them out, the chief nearly laughed again and made it clear they did not want them.

The next day we left Vila Franca, as we decided not to continue our walk.
How awful I cannot imagine how scared and distressed you both must have been. Thank God you are both safe now. So un Camino like . a brazen attack like this, hopefully this is a once in a 100 years event.
 

Cary

Member
Camino(s) past & future
del Norte/Primitivo May 2019
How awful I cannot imagine how scared and distressed you both must have been. Thank God you are both safe now. So un Camino like . a brazen attack like this, hopefully this is a once in a 100 years event.
No...see above reply...it happened 4 yr ago in the same place.
 

Lisa-W

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
CP April 2016
I am so sorry to hear the tales of AB, her friend, the school girl and especially Yolan. My heart felt sympathy goes out to all of them. I hope that they are all accessing the appropriate medical and mental health facilities in their respective countries and are recovering from their ordeals.

In 2017 I and my female friend walked the Portuguese camino from Lisbon. We found the Portuguese people to be extremely friendly and very helpful and accommodating. I would be happy to go back there tomorrow.

But there is an important lesson here. Women should never be alone on all the Camino‘s, even for a short while, as in the case of AB and her friend. Perhaps hospitaleros should be instructed to warn peregrina‘s not to walk alone and arrange for single women to walk in groups.

I was planning to walk the VDLP alone in April next year, but these stories and Covid -19 have made me delay my plans.
Lisa-w
 

C clearly

Moderator
Staff member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (2012, 2014, 2015, 2016), VDLP (2017), Mozarabe (2018), Vasco/Bayona (2019)
But there is an important lesson here. Women should never be alone on all the Camino‘s, even for a short while
Please! That is not a lesson I will endorse. Precautions are appropriate, as they are at home, and in the face of many different types of risk. I fully intend to walk Caminos, often alone.
 

Turga

Camino tortuga
Camino(s) past & future
CF (Aug/Sep 2017)
CF (Aug/Sep 2018)
But there is an important lesson here. Women should never be alone on all the Camino‘s, even for a short while, as in the case of AB and her friend. Perhaps hospitaleros should be instructed to warn peregrina‘s not to walk alone and arrange for single women to walk in groups.

I am sure that you mean well, but it seems to me you are turning things upside down. It should never be those who are subjected to offensive actions who should ‘adapt’ but those doing offensive actions who should be made aware (in a clearly understandable way) that such is not tolerated. Of course this is a general statement and it doesn't mean that you should not take care of yourself and act with common sense - the world is not perfect.
 

Jnlee99

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Past: SJPdP -> Santo Domingo de la Calzada
Future: Santo Domingo de la Calzada -> Santiago
This is not enough to just say sorry and move on. We need to work together to put pressure on the police to do something about this and find the perpetrator. Can we call or partition our respective embassy to put pressure on local law enforcement? I am angry for the victims and understand why they want to leave the area as soon as possible. This looks like a serial rapist who needs to be caught and punished!!!!!

Need to publicize so that all the pilgrims are aware of this danger, and frankly boycott this area until this crime is solved!
 

Jnlee99

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Past: SJPdP -> Santo Domingo de la Calzada
Future: Santo Domingo de la Calzada -> Santiago
But there is an important lesson here. Women should never be alone on all the Camino‘s, even for a short while, as in the case of AB and her friend. Perhaps hospitaleros should be instructed to warn peregrina‘s not to walk alone and arrange for single women to walk in groups.

Wow, this almost sounds like blaming the victims. The goal should be to make it safe for everyone all the time. No one should have to brave the risk of getting raped to walk the path. If there is a risk, everyone should be made aware so that they can avoid the area until it was made safe again. Too many comments feel like kumbaya rally and 'do not generalize' type of message. It happened. Apparently, this happened multiple times in the same location! I loved my walk - even though I was robbed of my phone - but this is not that. This was a life-changing trauma that we should collectively do something about!
 

Loly

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Portugues,
This is not enough to just say sorry and move on. We need to work together to put pressure on the police to do something about this and find the perpetrator. Can we call or partition our respective embassy to put pressure on local law enforcement? I am angry for the victims and understand why they want to leave the area as soon as possible. This looks like a serial rapist who needs to be caught and punished!!!!!

Need to publicize so that all the pilgrims are aware of this danger, and frankly boycott this area until this crime is solved!
Agree! I don’t want to go to Portugal and the Portugués Way after what I read. This should be published on all groups at Facebook. 😥
 

tillyjones

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances June 2015
VDLP May 2017
del Norte Sept 2018
I am so sorry to hear the tales of AB, her friend, the school girl and especially Yolan. My heart felt sympathy goes out to all of them. I hope that they are all accessing the appropriate medical and mental health facilities in their respective countries and are recovering from their ordeals.

In 2017 I and my female friend walked the Portuguese camino from Lisbon. We found the Portuguese people to be extremely friendly and very helpful and accommodating. I would be happy to go back there tomorrow.

But there is an important lesson here. Women should never be alone on all the Camino‘s, even for a short while, as in the case of AB and her friend. Perhaps hospitaleros should be instructed to warn peregrina‘s not to walk alone and arrange for single women to walk in groups.

I was planning to walk the VDLP alone in April next year, but these stories and Covid -19 have made me delay my plans.
Lisa-

Respectfully, every woman should be free to walk alone. Saying they shouldn't is akin to saying what they should or shouldn't wear.

Now, of course, its generally safer for a whole lot of reasons for PEOPLE not to hike alone but their gender is irrelevant.
 

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