Domestic violence is a difficult but very important topic. Many women only realize after many years how much time of their only life they gave to the rapist. Especially if it’s not about beatings, but other ways to show aggression. How to discern, how to protect yourself, what to do if you or a loved one has been subjected to domestic violence? Our expert, psychologist Elena Shpundra talks about these and other important things.
In Ukraine, a law on domestic violence was adopted last year. Moreover, in January 2019, a new amendment came into force to criminalize repeat cases or abuse of children.
However, according to La Strada statistics, out of 1,850,000 victims of domestic violence, only 83,000 go to the police every year. Less than 5%.
At the same time, according to the same data from La Strada, 38% of judges and 39% of prosecutors consider domestic violence a “personal matter”, and 55% of law enforcement officers regard information about domestic violence as untrue.
On the one hand, they can be understood – the victims often either refuse to submit an application themselves, or withdraw the submitted application.
On the other hand, in such cases, her word goes against his word, if there are no obvious signs of physical damage and it is difficult to prove threats or psychological abuse.
On the third hand, in the fall, Netflix released the Unbelievable series based on a true story. And, although it is not about domestic violence, but about rape committed by an unknown person, the mechanism of the work of the police with the victim is described perfectly – when she is not very convincing and gets confused in the description of the crime – you can simply not believe her.
And there is another side that is not customary to mention, if they talk about it, then somehow in passing – even if the victim is ready to leave the rapist and fight in court for her rights, then she needs to be financially secure. Because shelters for victims of domestic violence exist only in large cities and stay in them is limited in time.
If you are lucky and the home tyrant is imprisoned, then in a few years he will be released and, quite possibly, will want to take revenge. For example, Dmitry Grachev, who chopped off both hands of his ex-wife, was given only 14 years. They will fly by quickly, and then Margarita Gracheva with her children may have to change not only her place of residence, but also her names.
Therefore, the problems of domestic violence require a comprehensive and very structural approach, which, unfortunately, is unlikely to appear in the near future. But this does not mean that there is no need to talk about it or that nothing can be done.
How to recognize a domestic tyrant?
Many are concerned about the question of whether it is possible to somehow recognize a potential domestic tyrant or sadist while still on the shore. The problem is, no one hits you on the first date. Do not humiliate or insult also on the second or fifth. In every story I know, the violence started and happened in different ways.
For some, it happened shortly after marriage. There was alcohol, a quarrel, a blow, then – the husband’s repentance, forgiveness and the so-called “honeymoon”, when the rapist makes amends in every possible way and literally wraps the victim in care, attention, gifts. Then – again some kind of quarrel, a push or a blow, a “honeymoon”, and so on in a circle. Only the honeymoon is getting shorter, and the blows and insults are getting stronger.
Some people were fine before having kids. A wedding, a honeymoon, pregnancy, a decree, perhaps one more – a woman isolates herself from society, she herself does not notice how everything increases her dependence on her husband, his control grows, but she still accepts him as a concern.
Problems begin when she finally wants to return to work, to her active life – and here a sadist is shown in a man. Someone may not have blows, but there is such humiliation, pressure, coercion to have sex, some kind of sexual experiments for which a woman is not ready, intimidation, financial dependence – all these are different forms of violence, but all this is violence.
Of course, it is impossible to consider all this in a potential chosen one, but there are “beacons” that should definitely alert:
sudden mood swings: now he smiles and jokes, after a minute he withdraws into himself and becomes irritated for no reason;
control, in which many at first tend to see care. Remember: when a man gets into your phone, wants to know who called you, when and why, your daily schedule is minute by minute, he asks why you returned home at 18:05, and you should have been at 18:00 – this is control. Control is also trying to dictate to you what to wear, how to make up, who to communicate with, what to eat. You can control a child – and then at a certain age – or a cat, more precisely, yourself in providing for the cat. But when one adult begins to control another and they are not in a vertical boss-subordinate relationship, this is violence;
unreasonable jealousy. Again, at the beginning, many take it for passion and see it as their value for a partner. But if in the supermarket you smiled at the seller, and your man already sees this as a sign of a romance between you and starts to take out your brain with questions about who it is and why you are smiling, this is not a passion and not a sign of your supervalue, this is a male pathology. Any pathology is best left to a psychiatrist.
Why don’t victims leave their rapists?
Many also worry about the question: “Why don’t they leave?” Couch experts vying with each other rush to write advice “as it should be” on any story of abuse.
In addition to economic dependence, fear, psychological exhaustion, there is another moment that greatly splits the victims, and it is impossible to move in this splitting – they knew and remembered the rapist to others. They fell in love with his other – he was cheerful, kind, generous, caring, charming, wonderful, and then suddenly – a different person.
The woman does not believe that a man could change like that. If a man drinks, then she begins to blame alcohol. If she does not drink, the wife may justify such behavior by stress at work, business failures. When external excuses run out or they don’t exist, he will begin to blame himself – “It’s me who is behaving incorrectly, that’s why he is angry, it was I who gave me a reason to shout at me.”
Strengthens her in this opinion and the fact that she observes her husband with other people and again sees him charming, cheerful, kind. It turns out that only with her he is like that – it means, “she herself is to blame.” And the woman begins to try, does everything possible to return the man she fell in love with and married. But he does not understand that there is no one to return – he is in front of her as he is, just before he held back his impulses.
How can you help a victim of domestic violence?
And the main question is what to do, is it possible to somehow help the victim of violence, if, in principle, this problem is difficult to solve in our society? Unfortunately, many victims of domestic violence do not admit it not only to law enforcement agencies, but also to their relatives and friends.
Women are silent primarily because they are ashamed. Judging by the photos on Instagram, everyone has everything in chocolate, but only she has pokes and bruises. In fact, it’s a shame to be a rapist and not a victim.
And they are also afraid that if they say, he will kill them altogether or take away their children. The same Margarita Gracheva submitted one statement to the police almost a month before the crime. The police did not respond.
Even though law enforcement doesn’t give us much ground to trust, there is one method that has proven effective time and time again: public exposure. Make the rapist “famous”, write about him on social networks, show his photo, hang this photo on all the poles in the area, contact a public organization that helps victims of domestic violence, in the same La Strada.
Of course, there will be those who will not believe you, there will be those who will accuse you, there will be those who will take the side of your rapist – the same Professor Sokolov has a lot of sympathizers – but there will be those, and there will be many of them, who will understand, support, help to you.
The problem of domestic violence can only be solved by taking it out of the house, ceasing to look at it as a private matter of individual men and women, the court and the police, and recognizing it as a disease of society and showing a common desire to improve.