Teenage boy and girl had been kept isolated from society for 7 years

Guardia Civil have arrested a Swiss couple living in Catral for domestic violence offences and illegal detention against their children, aged 17 and 15. They came to Spain over 7 years ago and did not leave the house to go to the doctor or to school.

A social worker from the Town Hall told police they received a report from a charity for at risk children (ANAR) about two children in Catral with an unknown address. It said the girl, who is the eldest, asked for help in an email, saying they had been kept in the house since March 2009 under completely restricted contact with the outside world.

It explained their mother did not let them go to school, except for their eldest brother, who is now an adult and left in 2009 for Switzerland to live with his biological father.

She said she had never received any medical treatment or been to a doctor, except for once to Almoradí with stomach pains last year. She also claimed they were not allowed to access the internet or telephone, and he mother had broken her phone because she threatened to call the police. Her mother used the phone to control them when they were let out for a few minutes a day to take the dogs to the toilet or get something quickly from a nearby supermarket.

The daughter assured her mother, who has Swiss nationality but was born in Spain 49 years ago, threatened, insulted and attacked them, even giving proper beatings especially to her, hitting her with hands against the wall or furniture and throwing dishes or any other object to hand at her.

She added that she had never asked for help until now because since they were little they received continuous death threats and were told the police would rape and kill them, which they had believed. She remembered the situation had begun in Switzerland when they were 3 or 4 and her mother’s current partner, who is 30, knew all about it and did nothing.

The family moved often, having lived in 6 houses in 7 years in Catral, Arenales del Sol, La Marina de Elche and Rojales. In La Marina she managed to send emails to some charities but only ANAR replied and they lost track of her when she moved to Catral. The siblings did not even speak Spanish as they were so isolated.

It took police several weeks to locate the family home and the mother denied any children lived there but the daughter heard them talking and got their attention, which was when they were rescued.

The woman was arrested for family abuse and illegal detention and her partner for covering up the crimes. The children were first sent to Alicante Centre for Minors, then the daughter (who suffered most of the abuse) was collected by her biological father and taken to Switzerland, and the 15 year old boy was returned to the family home with the approval of the courts.  

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