Staying Safe and Getting Help in Berlin

photos: Frailfail

Part of my answer to ‘what draws you to Berlin?’ is it being this exciting metropolis where all cultures mix and interact. Life here changes from one minute to the other, making each day a unique experience that keeps me on edge, as I try to be part of everything the city offers.

This lifestyle, however, doesn’t only have a positive side to it. This constant business and change can be overwhelming and stressful, turning the fairy tale into a nightmare. In big cities like Berlin, where the levels of excitement, challenges, temptations are always on max, it should be our primary concern that we keep ourselves safe, maintaining our peace no matter what; ‘When we love ourselves we can love others’, and other Eat Pray Love cliches, in this case stand surprisingly true. There is absolutely no shame in getting help, us is all we got,  so our well being should come before any fear of mom, friend, employer being judgmental. Sometimes it’s little things we need to do to decompress, like jogging, meditating, knitting, whatever works. Other times though, balance is a bit harder to find: Instead of ignoring the signs or avoiding it, we owe ourselves to reach out to a professional helping hand, and Berlin gives us quite a few options to help us get back on track.


Berlin is regarded ‘the capital of positive people’, and sadly that doesn’t refer to their outlook on life. Stats show there are 18.000 HIV positive people in the city, with 500 new infections each year, out of which, 170 cases present advanced immune deficiency, while 1.800 don’t know they are carriers at all: in other words, they don’t get tested and receive treatment in time. If you have found yourself in an unsafe situation that ever since has given you doubts, don’t put off getting tested as soon as possible- thanks to the advanced medical research, one is able to live an almost normal and healthy life, given that they get treatment in time.  Berlin has a big infrastructure of help offered, the tests are anonymous, and usually the required amount of money for a test is around 10 euro. The centers one can contact (other than an individual doctor, but there the test is not anonymous), both to be tested and for further support are Berliner Aids HilfePluspunkt, Mann-o-meter,  ManCheck and Zentrum für sexuelle Gesundheit.

Mental Health and Crisis Counseling

Mental illnesses are not to be given any less attention than physical ones; they actually could turn life much harder than that rash we’d normally run to have checked. Private counseling of course is an option, but many find it too expensive. Counseling centers provide a great deal in directing one towards the right direction in terms of what one needs. Social psychiatric services are another point of contact, run by local health authorities and provided for free, they can help determine what kind of help is being required in each case, and they can suggest which way one should proceed. Psychotherapy, largely stigmatized in our society, can actually help in relieving the symptoms of mental illness and thus massively improve one’s quality of life. Problems to be tackled through psychotherapy can be anxiety, depression, or addiction. You can find a psychotherapist through your health insurer, a counseling center or through medical associations. For instances of crisis or emergency, or even for psychological support if suicide crosses your mind, contact Telefonseelsorge BerlinBerliner Stadtmission Online Seelsorge, or Berlin Krisendienst. For support to victims of crime, one can contact The Weißer Ring.

Addiction Problems

Addiction has many faces, and can find its way into our lives at times we experience loneliness, or when things haven’t been going well; it’s itself an attempt to help ourselves by taking our mind away from what tortures us, even though all it does is add to our problems. In cases like these, consulting an expert is necessary; even if we don’t have trust that things can change, we might be surprised. If you face a drinking problem and are in need of help, or you know someone who needs it,  you can turn to Alcohol Hilfe, or the German AA. If you are addicted to drugs, or know someone who is, help is provided through the National Hotline or Drogennotdienst. Fixpunkt has undertaken an admirable project, as it caters for users in providing them with a safe space, offering food and a shower for a small fee, and giving out clean drug utensils for free. Also, their RV in Kotti functions as a counseling spot. For prescription drugs addiction, the organization that provides help is Die Gierkezeile. The Anonyme Spieler supports those suffering from gambling addiction, and  the  Project ‘lost in space’ deals with computer games addiction.

Domestic Abuse

This is usually a very hard problem to address, since the violence comes within the family and has a different psychological impact to those involved, with victims sometimes denying to report the abuse. These organizations make sure the victims find a safe space away from the abusers, get psychological support and counseling. For child abuse, there are several organizations one can turn to, such as Kindernotdienst , for children aged under 14 years old, and Jungendotdienst, for adolescents of 14 to 18 years old. Mädchennotdienst provides counseling and support to young women that have been victims of sexual violence.Organizations that work with women who have been victims of sexual, domestic abuse, or violence of any kind, are BIG , which provides support for women and their kids, the BORA refuge, offering support and protection, as well as LARA , supporting victims of rape.

Violence against LGBTQI

Homophobic violence unfortunately doesn’t belong, as it should, in the past. Even though Berlin is an overall friendly and tolerant community, new violent instances are happening everyday. Luckily, the Berlin LGBT community has built an infrastructure that offers help and support. To report an incident of violence, or for any kind of counseling or support, you can refer to the following organizations: LSVD supports victims of homophobia,  the Gay Counseling Centre works with victims of  violence against gay men, as well as Maneo, Pluspunkt, and Mann-o-meterAnti-lesbian Violence project Broken Rainbow and lesbenberatung deal with violence against lesbians, while Sonntags Club offers support to homophobic violence, as well as a cafe. For LGBTI refugees, contact Berlin Center for LGBTI Refugees.

Feel free to add any organizations we might have missed, and help Berlin stay safe and healthy!

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We want to say thank you to Instagrammer Frailfail for letting us use her awesome photos for this feature!

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