There is no insurance against violence. Every person, regardless of gender, nationality, or status, can face physical, sexual, psychological, economic, and social violence. It is not the victim's fault. Unfortunately, it is the criminal's communication style. And sometimes, we may not notice the first signs and fall into a trap. Most violence cases do not go beyond "closed doors," deepening the problem and the consequences for the victims.
One of the victims of domestic violence shared her story anonymously. From love to complete despair, not understanding what to do next, and how to escape from the oppression of violence—this is what the heroine of this story faced.
"I was 19 when we got married—16 when we met. I thought it was true love. Time passed. Small problems arose. For the sake of love, I tried to smooth out everything I could and suffered inconveniences. He wanted children, and I wanted to wait a little longer, but I gave in. I got pregnant.
During pregnancy, he began to treat me coldly. And then, I gave birth at 21 years old. And I was left alone with my son one on one. He sent me with the child to the sofa so the night screams would not disturb his sleep. There were several months of hell when I looked at the sunrise in the morning and wondered when the damn sun would set and night would come. And then, when the sun was setting, I waited for the morning in the same way. I ate once a day at best, took a regular shower once a week at best, and at worst, I had 30 seconds to rinse until my son screamed. But I still thought it was the same love, with little difficulty.
When my son was nine months old, we both got Covid. I had severe pneumonia, and my son had diarrhea. I cried and asked him to stay home for at least one day. I said I was afraid to lose consciousness and drop my son. Even getting up was difficult for me, and my son had to be constantly fed and given medicine. My husband didn't stay. He said he didn't have time for that.
And when my son was 11 months old, I wanted to visit my parents for two hours. Just sit a little. Sitting inside four walls for whole days was impossible without regular communication. I waited for him all day from work to go together. And he said he didn't want to. I asked that then I would go alone and return soon. And… He beat me for that. The forensic expert counted at least seven blows. A broken nose, a crack in the frontal sinus, a concussion, a bleeding in the eye. The ophthalmologist said a little more, and I could lose my sight in that eye.
He took my son away and locked me in the room. He gave his son to his parents. For more than three hours, I was closed, without my son. His father came to see me and shouted at me. Why did I provoke him? I had it coming. He drowned my phone so that I couldn't call anyone. He destroyed all the photos of my son that I had. And I… and I demanded that my son be given to me. The man threatened that if I left him, he would steal my son and wouldn't let me live normally.
They returned my son to me in about 3-4 hours. They did not cope with him. And they closed the room again. There was a window in the room. No one thought I would escape because it was very high. About 2 meters to the ground. Nov. 21. It was about 0 degrees outside. It was raining. I grabbed my son. I was afraid to dress him because the husband would come back. I was worried that my son would cry when I started dressing him. I was barefoot, in home clothes, and my son was the same. I grabbed him and jumped out of that window.
I managed to escape unnoticed. She ran out onto the road. The first car stopped for me. People took me to my parents. And then the ambulance, the police… more than six months of legal proceedings. For six months, every time, I heard that it was me who had fallen somewhere. On the face, more than seven times. The judge and the prosecutor listened to it. I wanted to fall through the ground. He was found guilty. And the punishment… The punishment is a fine of 860 hryvnias. This is how much it costs to beat someone. 860 hryvnias. Divorce was through court. He filed a complaint against me with the social service. I had months of problems with children's services. Months of fear. Months of fatigue. He was assigned times of communication with the child. After all, he beat me, not the child, and this does not count as aggressive behavior. When he hits the child, call the police, and we'll look into it. I turned to a psychologist during the court proceedings. I was just desperate. It seemed to me that there was no end to this nightmare. I am very grateful to the psychologist who helped me.
"It is important to see through the 'cloud' of experiences that there are people nearby who are on your side and ready to help"
Alina Kasilova, curator of the psychological assistance department of the NGO Divchata
I feel tremendous gratitude to the girl who told me about her story!
Unfortunately, in our work, we often hear about situations where a partner uses children to establish power over another partner. And it is also a form of violence. It's not okay, even if it's the child's father or mother. The child should not be an intermediary between parents and become an instrument of influence.
In such moments, we can feel powerless, be afraid, and look for reasons why this happened to us. And it is essential to see through this "cloud" of experiences that there are people nearby who are on your side and ready to help and be precisely the support that is missing inside yourself.
What to do if you encounter violence:
- Do not stay alone in such a situation: ask for support from friends or women's organizations that work with topics of violence. You can ask for help from the NGO Divchata by writing to us at [email protected]. Our team is ready to fight together with you!
- Seek out the help of a psychologist with whom you can trust your experience and voice it.
- Get legal advice to understand that the abuser is violating your rights and freedoms.
- For your protection, it is recommended to engage the support of specialists and contact the police by calling 102.
"All this is a crime against human life and health""
Iryna Lysnychka, lawyer
The woman whose story you told is, unfortunately, a victim of domestic violence with the purpose of bodily harm.
The pre-trial investigation body qualified the offender's actions under Article 125 of the Criminal Code of Ukraine, i.e., the commission of light bodily harm (criminal misdemeanor).
The primary standard used by experts when determining the severity of injuries is the "Rules for Forensic-Medical Determination of the Severity of Bodily Injuries," approved by order of the Ministry of Justice of Ukraine No. 6 of 17.01.1995 (for example, a broken nose, concussion, scratches, hematomas can be considered minor injuries).
In this case, the court applied the lowest measure of punishment, which is provided for by the sanction of Article 125 of the Criminal Code—50 non-taxable minimum incomes of citizens, i.e., UAH 850 fine (at the same time, Part 1 of Article 125 of the Criminal Code of Ukraine provides for a fine of up to 50 non-taxable minimum incomes of citizens, i.e., UAH 510 for bodily harm).
At the same time, the commission of a criminal offense against a spouse or ex-spouse or another person with whom the perpetrator is (was) in a family or close relationship is an aggravating circumstance provided for by the Criminal Code.
In practice, controversial issues often arise during the qualification of the assignment of bodily injuries, which most often occurs due to an incorrectly conducted or falsified forensic medical examination. Experts may incorrectly describe physical injuries and draw incorrect conclusions about the severity of injuries.
It happened in this case as well. If the physical injuries are incorrectly described in the examination, and there are signs of falsification, it is necessary to conduct an additional or repeated examination.
Undoubtedly, in this story, the woman is a victim of domestic violence (psychological and physical violence).
However, systematicity is one of the mandatory features for qualifying actions under Article 126-1 of the Criminal Code (domestic violence). This article requires documented violence cases for the onset of criminal liability.
Analyzing the circumstances of this case, I recommend that you seek legal support. A lawyer will be able to analyze the results of the examination, find signs of falsification in them, which will be the basis for conducting a second examination, and also, if possible, be sure to save electronic evidence in the form of SMS messages and records conversations (including telephone conversations) to confirm the fact of committing psychological violence.
I want to add that the legislator defined an overly mild and unacceptable measure of punishment, which does not contribute to the primary purpose of punishment, the correction, and prevention of new criminal offenses, and the pursuit of bodily harm is, after all, a crime against human life and health.
If you have encountered violence and need help, send your request to: [email protected]
Experts of the NGO Divchata will provide you with psychological support and initial legal advice, and help you draw up a further action plan.
There is no excuse for any form of violence. There is help! We are here!
The NGO Divchata prepared the article as part of the project "Providing emergency aid and protection services to the population affected by the conflict in Ukraine," which is implemented by Help – Hilfe zur Selbsthilfe in Ukraine with the financial support of the Federal Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Germany and NAK-karitativ. It does not in any way represent the official point of view of the donors.
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