My most recent Embassy case concluded successfully with an email I received this morning.
I got a call several nights ago from the Security Desk at the Embassy in Panama City. The duty officer said he had just talked to a US citizen, in David, who had called frightened for her life because her male housemate had locked her in the house after beating her and threatening to kill her. He had then gone to Panama City.
The duty officer was wanting to know a number in David she could call for help and if it was 911 as in the states.
Staff at the Embassy change every two years and it is not uncommon to have new staff that don’t have all the knowledge they need to assist people. I gave him the numbers for the police and went back to sleep.
The following morning, I received a frantic phone call from the lady who had escaped when her roommate had returned earlier that morning. He allowed her to go pay some bills and instead, she went into hiding and called me. A friend of hers had given her my number.
I called my contacts at the Embassy and updated them on the situation. Shortly they sent me an email with the number for INAMU, which is a women”s abuse organization.
I picked up the lady and she wanted to go to COPA and buy tickets back to the states because she said she didn’t want to be another statistic. I took her to COPA and then we went to find the INAMU office. I had to call for directions.
We were taken to a private room where a social worker took the information related to the abuse case. The social worker was accompanied by a lawyer, who understood some English. I acted as interpreter.
I explained to the social worker that it was my understanding from talking to the US Embassy that they assisted women in these situations and they would provide protection and shelter.
They said they would take her to a safe house and then the next day take her to the airport for her flight. They informed her that she would not be permitted to use her cell phone while she was going to/from the safe house and while in the safe house because of the phones having GPS capabilities.
They offered to take her to her house to get personal belongings, but she was afraid that he would become violent. Most individuals like him become cowards when confronted by police, but that was her desire.
I can understand her fear because he had to!d her that he had killed two other women in Panama City and knew how to do it without being caught.
This morning, I received an email from her saying she had made it back to the US and was with family. There are a few loose ends remaining, but at least she is safe and based on the bruises I saw, it might not have ended that way.
It is good to know that such an organization exists and they assist Panamanians as well as foreigners. Thanks go out for Tania at the Embassy for knowing about this organization and making the initial call. Thanks also for those working in the organization supporting abused women.
The organization is INAMU and their number is 774-7093.