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Domestic violence serious problem in Belarus
How to deal with domestic violence and what to do if you become a victim? Learn more from victims, lawyers and psychologists.
"The main thing is to tell someone"
"I was afraid to tell others what was going on in my home. I thought all lived like that," started her story Aliaksandra. She looks under 30, tall, with regular features, only her eyes give her away when she speaks of her experiences. The woman was able to prove in court the guilt of her husband over a single episode: a knee injury. Under the Criminal Code it is a light injury. But that was only one of the episodes. The reason for the divorce, calls to the police and court, according to Aliaksandra, were the many months of sexual and physical abuse by her ex-husband.
After another incident, when neighbors called the police, I grabbed four children and left.
Her ex-husband did not care whether the children were sleeping. Aliaksandra said that he liked when she asked on her knees to stop the violence.
"I got saved, because I told my mother and friends about it. I was afraid that I would be judged for something. In my case, the partner took away my communication devices, so that I could not contact anyone. I had a feeling that it could not get worse than that. That's why you need to visit a psychologist. Be sure to write a statement to the police, so that the incidents have been documented. In fact my husband said: I did not beat her, her body is prone to bruising, I just grabbed her by the arms. She did it herself".
She advises to those who are faced with domestic violence the following:
1) Write a note with all the numbers of family and friends
2) Tell someone you know about cases of violence, they will help
3) Do not listen to judgements
4) Do not be afraid to change your life
"Immediately start looking for a good lawyer"
Lizaveta lived with her husband for seven years. According to her, already after the first two years, he became aggressive towards her, and later towards their daughter.
"At first I was afraid to call the police, because I did not want to traumatize my daughter. But then I realized that the terrible scandals would make her suffer even more. After a while I saw him feeling he was getting away with it. He was constantly looking for the negative, there were problems with work and self-realization. He became aggressive and started to blame everyone, including me. He was swearing in the face of our three year old child. He simply could not get hold of his emotions," said Lizaveta.
The turning point came when he started physically abusing their daughter. As a result, the court banned the father from seeing his daughter for three months. But according to Lizaveta, she still does not want to see him.
To those who face domestic violence, she advises the following:
1) Seek legal advice
2) Do not be afraid to be judged
3) Turn to the children's services, so that the husband does not have time to do that and tell a different story
4) In each case of violence call the police
"Men also complain about domestic violence"
Psychologist with 15 years of experience, Ina Salenikovich answers calls on the hotline for the victims of domestic violence. To those who have faced a problem, she advises to primarily consider the plan of retreat and the code word for the loved ones.
"You need to think about how and where to go in an emergency. Prepare bag with things, put in your phone the numbers of police and person you trust, agree on a code word if you cannot speak normally. When beaten or threatened - you need to call the police . People are very shy about it, so you need to break the silence, tell the family, contact the hotline," said Ina.
The origins of domestic violence lie in the family of the aggressor: someone acted this way, and it was considered the norm. It is not affected by either social status or education. Both partners are usually to blame for the conflict, explains the psychologist:
"Usually, both are to blame. But that does not allow for physical violence or humiliation. If you don't like something in the relationship - look for a psychologist or part with this person. After all, poeple in Belarus do not usually consult specialists."
Ina's hotline was also used by men, who complained about physical abuse by their wives. But an aggressor never has never turned to experts for help.
Every third murder in family committed by woman
The worst outcome of a family scandal is a murder or grievous bodily harm. According to the MIA statistics, 96 people have been killed this year as a result of family conflict. In the past year the number was 103. A third of these killings were committed by women, usually they are led to this.
"First comes aggression from her husband or domestic partner. The woman is trying to protect herself. Realizing that she is going to be beaten, she grabs a knife - and then goes serious bodily injury or death," gives the example of conflict prevention Head of the Interior Ministry Aleh Karazey.
At the same time, only 5% of women are responsible for other offenses motivated by family conflicts.
Lawyer Larysa Tarasevich-Burak, head of the legal service of Zavadski district of Minsk, advises to keep track of things after a woman goes to the police with a complaint. If the man cannot pay the fine and the burden would fall on her shoulders, she should ask for administrative arrest of the aggressor.
"They call the police, and couple of hours later they cancel the complaint. If you set to work, it needs to be brought to conclusion. Then you need to undergo medical examination and depending on the severity of the damage, punish the guilty person. The process should also be tracked, when the judge decides on punishment. Besides fines, there are also arrests," said Larysa Tarasevich-Burak.
In addition to administrative responsibility, there is also a criminal one for domestic violence: premeditated minor injuries can get the person in jail. This happens, when the damage resulted in a sick leave. Such cases, according to the lawyer, are widespread.
The Administrative Code even covers responsibility for psychological violence. But there are very few cases.
For 10 months of this year, 1,984 persons were affected by domestic violence. Of these, 1,509 are women, 475 - men.
All the names of domestic violence victim were changed at their request.
Telephone number for victims of domestic violence - a nationwide hotline 8801 100-88-01.
Telephone number for shelter for victims of domestic violence - 8029 610-83-55.
National children's line - 8801 100-16-11.
We would like to thank "Gender Perspectives" and "Radislava" for assistance in preparing the article.