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Forced abandonment occurs when a child, young person, woman or man is left behind abroad against his or her will, while the rest of the family returns to the Netherlands. This is organised at the initiative of the spouse, parent(s) or family and causes an involuntary break with the social environment in the Netherlands. A return is often made more difficult by the removal of travel or residence documents. Abroad, the victim is often in a dependent and/or isolated position.

Anyone can be left behind, but it mostly involves young people aged between 11 and 20 and women between 20 and 35 years old, sometimes with their children. Among young people, motives are often linked to dissatisfaction with westernisation or the prevention of misbehaviour (e.g. LGBTI). For women, marital problems or harm to the family honour often play a role. It occurs in many countries. Although this problem is present throughout the year, the holiday period is particularly high risk. In the Netherlands, young people are left behind abroad each year under the pretext of a holiday or family visit.

Are you affected by (fear of) forced abandonment?
This is what you can do!

Before departure

It is difficult to know for sure in advance that you will be left behind, often the signs aren’t clear. Yet you may suspect that something isn’t right. For example, when a trip is planned unexpectedly and the family doesn’t reveal much about what their plans are. Don’t hesitate and take action now. Once abroad, returning will be more difficult.

Contact Safe Home

Safe Home is for everyone who is directly or indirectly affected by domestic violence and child abuse and has experts in the field of honour-related violence.

You can call for advice and support. This can either be for yourself or for someone else. You’ll speak to an employee who will listen carefully to what you have to say. This employee answers questions and gives advice. The employee will check with you whether professional help is needed and what help is best. You can remain anonymous if you want or need to.

Sometimes, it quickly becomes clear what the problems are and what help is needed. In that case, Safe Home will organise this help. Sometimes, the problem is not clear and therefore that needs to be established first. Safe Home does this with the people concerned, as much as possible. In the case of forced abandonment, Safe Home takes a careful, step-by-step approach, in which the safety of those involved is always our main priority. Are you not sure? Call us, anonymously if you want, for advice. Nothing changes if you don’t!

Think about who you can share your concerns with

It can be very difficult to confide in someone because you want as few people as possible to know about it, or because you aren’t sure whether you will, in fact, be left behind. Remember that you can ask for anonymous advice from Safe Home, at any time. You can decide for yourself whether or not to act on that advice. If you’re under 18, you can also talk to someone at your school or call the Children’s Helpline (0800 0432).

You can of course also talk to someone closer to you. Perhaps you can reach out to someone you trust, for example a teacher or carer at school, a neighbour or a friend. Often, there are more people willing to help you than you think. You can talk to this person and ask if he or she will come along with you to your General Practitioner, for example.

For advice, reporting and/or referral to a shelter and/or other help, you can also call the Netherlands Bureau for Protection against Forced Marriages and Abandonment (LKHA): +31 (0)70 345 43 19. You can call the LKHA or contact them via anonymous chat, even when you’re abroad.

Do you need to travel? Prepare yourself well and ask for help:

Before departure

1. Collect all important information before you leave the Netherlands: a recent passport photo, a copy of your passport, address details abroad, social security number (the BSN is shown on your passport/back of ID card) and flight details. 

Send it to a (secret) e-mail address of yours or store it in the Cloud. This is important, because now you can still access it when your phone is taken away.

2. Find someone you trust. Alternatively, ask (anonymous) advice from Safe Home (0800-2000). 

3. Store the phone numbers of relief agencies and the person you trust in your mobile. Use fake names to store this information under.
* Ministry of Foreign Affairs: +31 247 247 247 (also Whatsapp) 
* LKHA: +31 70 345 4319

4. Download the TravelApp from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs with contact details of Dutch embassies. 

Make arrangements with a confidential advisor in the Netherlands:

1. Send all important data (point 1) to the person you trust as well.

2. Make arrangements: when and how will you be contacting him or her? For example by telephone, text message, WhatsApp or e-mail. 

3. Agree on a secret code word in case you’re in distress and unable to speak freely.

4. Agree on what the other person should do if you do not make contact or return. Agree that he or she seeks help. (See organisations below)

5. Are you delayed or are you staying longer? Don’t forget to tell your contact person! 

Are you abroad?

Ask the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs for advice or immediate assistance.

Chat with Fier or call the Netherlands Bureau for Protection against Forced Marriages and Abandonment (LKHA): telephone number +31 70 345 43 19. The LKHA helps victims of forced marriage and abandonment who are abroad to return to the Netherlands, and works together with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Dutch embassies. 

Have you been abandoned or forced to get married abroad? Call for help:

+31 247 247 247

Need help right away? Call the police!

Emergency? Call 112.

What happens when I call?

  • We listen to your story
  • You get advice
  • We will look for help together
More information
CALL (FREE) 0800-2000

You can contact us 7 days a week, 24 hours a day (for free).

This is what you can do if you are worried about someone else

Contact Safe Home

If you are worried about someone else, be very careful who you talk to about it. Three important main rules apply in the event of forms of honour-related violence, such as forced abandonment:

  1. Don’t try on your own, but call in experts when in doubt. Safe Home has in-house expertise to identify signs and can advise on follow-up steps.
  2. Assess whether there is an imminent danger.
  3. Keep the information in a very small circle. Disclosure increases the risk of honour-related violence. Whatever you do, do not involve family. Do not give or ask for information and do not use the family for interpreting services.

Talk to the person involved

Talking to the person you are worried about is a big step. You often don’t know what is going on exactly. And you don’t want to hurt the other person’s feelings. In addition, the victim may feel ashamed and wants to keep it secret. It is also possible that your concerns were unjustified. Still, it is better to find out. If the case does involve violence, you can discuss together how you can do something about it.

If you would like advice on how to start a conversation and what to pay attention to, you can also contact Safe Home.

As a professional, you must adhere to the Honour-Related Violence reporting code, which on some points deviates from the Domestic Violence and Child Abuse Reporting Code.

Need help right away? Call the police!

Emergency? Call 112.

More information: