She's Got It 10:53 25 Nov 2021

(Un)safe November: what to do when domestic violence is nearby

The traditional 16 days of combating violence will start in Ukraine on November 25. This is an initiative designed to inform about a large-scale problem and the crimes that close people often commit against each other. Everyone suffers from domestic violence, but most of the victims are women and children.

In this text, we've collected tips that can save someone's life. They're for those who suffer from violence themselves and those who have witnessed it. Don't forget, non-indifference saves lives.

What is the problem?

Closed doors and everything happening behind them

We don't know the number of victims of domestic violence. Statistics are kept only by the National Police of Ukraine, but not all complaints are labeled as domestic violence. Some cases are considered hooliganism, while others are considered sexual violence and rape (in particular, marital rape).

But it is known that at least one million Ukrainian men and women suffer from various forms of domestic violence every year. There are the following types of violence:

  • physical (beatings and any use of physical force);
  • sexual (rape of adults and children, coercion to sex, debauchery, sexual violence, sexual harassment);
  • psychological (moral pressure on a person, attempts to devalue and intimidate them);
  • economic (when a partner or other family member takes money or documents from a person and puts pressure on them in this way).

що робити, коли домашнє насильство опиняється поруч

Human trafficking should be mentioned separately. Even though it belongs to the category of so-called obvious crimes that aren't tolerated in European countries, many traffickers remain unpunished, and the problem is closer than it seems.

For example, journalists reported on a Volyn deputy and pensioner who recruited a woman and took Ukrainian women to a Polish brothel with her for three years, promising them an official job.

The man was sentenced only in March 2021. Almost all this time he was at large and eventually managed to avoid actual punishment.

що робити, коли домашнє насильство опиняється поруч

What is the solution?

Speak louder, remind of the issue more often, don't remain indifferent

From November 25 to December 10, there will be a lot of talk in Ukraine about the problem of violence and how it can be counteracted. Human rights activists will hold a series of events and make many appeals, government officials will release new statistics on this topic, and each of us will have to remember a few important signs of violence and at least a few solutions that can help.

If you suffer from domestic violence, you should report it to law enforcement. In 2020, 921 offenders have already been convicted in Ukraine, which is four times more than in 2019.

You can ask the police to issue a restraining order for 10 days, which contains the following obligations for the offender:

  • leaving the place of residence (stay) with the victim (even if the offender is registered there);
  • not approaching the place of residence (stay) of the victim;
  • not contacting them.

The same order can be issued by a judge, but for one to six months.

If you want to speak out, but have no one to talk to, you can use the It Seems platform, where victims of domestic violence tell their stories anonymously.

If you want to leave your partner with your child, but you're in trouble, you can turn to human rights organizations that work for women's rights. Among them is the Social Apartment project, Health Right, where you can find shelter and work with psychologists and social workers.

In total, there are 142 hotlines for victims of domestic violence in Ukraine. 339 mobile teams of social and psychological assistance and 23 shelters for victims.

If you've witnessed violence against an adult, you're unlikely to be able to help them if they don't want to do it themselves. However, if violence is committed here and now, you should call the police and, if possible, ask the victim how you can help.

If you suspect that someone around you is being abused, tell that person about victim hotlines, shelters, and human rights organizations. The latter usually provide their advice in such cases for free.

Listen to the person and try to convey to them that the perpetrator is always guilty of the crime, that you don't condemn them and are ready to help. Tell them that you're willing to testify in their favor if they decide to go to court.

що робити, коли домашнє насильство опиняється поруч

If you've witnessed child abuse, you can call the police. Important: the law recognizes a child as a victim both when any form of domestic violence has been directed at them and when the child has witnessed violence. For the family where the child suffers from violence to be noticed by the relevant services, it's enough for one of the witnesses to make a statement or for the child to call the Children's Hotline at 116111. Such a call is free from all providers.

Tell the child about it, explain what violence is and how they can protect themselves. Offer to go to the police with them. If you know other relatives of the child well, whom you and the child trust, contact them and tell them about the situation.

How does it work?

Cases proving violence can be fought

A 16-year-old girl abducted by a 60-year-old man was rescued in the United States in November. One driver turned to the police, who noticed how the girl, sitting in the back seat of someone's car, was showing a gesture signaling the need for help. The man was promptly detained; the police found pornographic pictures of the girl on his phone and now he will be tried for kidnapping a child and storing child pornography.

What gesture did the girl show? It is universal all over the world, so it is worth remembering. To show it, you need to:

  • raise your hand with your palm to another person;
  • insert your thumb into your palm;
  • fold your fingers over your thumb.

що робити, коли домашнє насильство опиняється поруч

In October last year in Khmelnytskyi, law enforcement officers helped a woman with three children aged 2, 8, and 11 escape from a man who had beaten her and was suffering from alcohol addiction. The woman was afraid to contact the police because she had nowhere to go. Instead, one of her young daughters called the police, called their address, and said that her father was beating her mother.

As a result, the woman with the children, with the help of social workers, was able to settle down with the children separately from the man against whom the case was opened.

More useful solutions

How to protect yourself and loved ones from violence

  • In case of danger, don't be afraid to contact hotlines and human rights activists.
  • You can take a free course on fighting domestic violence if you feel you need extra knowledge to help yourself or someone.
  • Install the WhiteribbonUA application on your phone, which has a design similar to menstrual calendars. If you hold your finger on the top icon of the application, there will be a hidden menu that will help to quickly call the police if necessary.
  • Install the SafeUp application. This is an application that will show you other registered women nearby who will be ready to help you in case of danger, call the police, pick you up or take you to a safe location.

Take care of yourself and remember that taking care of others is easier than it seems.

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