For 2016 to the National Hotline for the Prevention of Domestic Violence, Trafficking in Persons and Gender Discrimination "La Strada" received 38.5 thousand hits. More than 90% of them are complaints of domestic violence and requests for help from women who do not know where to turn to them and how to protect themselves.
Alyona Krivuliak, director of the National Hotlines Department at the La Strada-Ukraine Center, told how the hotline helps domestic violence victims find strength in themselves and get out of the vicious circle of aggression in the family.
Since our “hot line” began to work around the clock, the number of calls has increased several times.
On weekdays, a woman at work, it’s not very convenient for her to call the hotline and talk about her problems. And the problems themselves during the day fade into the background a little, and the resolve is already smaller.But in the evening, when she returns home, the situation is heating up again.
Most of all they call us in the evening and at night. Weekends and holidays are generally the peak of calls. Men can afford to drink too much - and we get a surge of domestic violence.
Women may live in such a mode for years, in the belief that nothing can be changed. But at some point they get tired of enduring all this, and call the “hot line” in search of a way out.
Most of those who appeal to us have already matured to do something to get out of their vicious circle. But many of those who call just to talk, to get sympathy. They are not ready to change anything, and the options that we offer also do not perceive: “I know that nothing will change, my husband will not leave him alone, the police will not help. I can not get away from him - nowhere and no one to whom. Just listen, understand how hard me now. "
Our Verkhovna Rada will not ratify the Istanbul Convention on the Prevention of Violence against Women. This would be a huge change in legislation, and women who are victims of domestic violence would be protected.
Now it is even difficult to get the district police officer to accept a statement that a woman was beaten at home.At best, the aggressor will be taken away for several hours, and when he returns home, even more pissed, everything will continue.
How can we help women in these conditions?
We advise by telephone. Our psychologists will listen, reassure, help to pull themselves together. Will make an algorithm of actions that will derive from the situation with family violence.
A woman calls and says: “I am going to write a statement to the police, help me to make everything correctly”, or “I can’t take it anymore, I want to file for divorce. Tell me how to do it. ” Our lawyer puts everything in order, helps to make a statement, explains what documents are needed, where to go with them, and so on. We also do all this by phone.
If a telephone consultation is not enough, and you need to additionally examine some papers, for example, you need to establish with whom the children will live after the divorce, we ask you to send all the documents to an email address or by mail. The legal department looks at all this, and sends back our step-by-step recommendations on what to do next.
Face-to-face consultations are only an exception, when the matter is very complicated.For example, a woman married a foreigner, gave birth to a child from him, but her husband turned out to be a family tyrant. She wants to leave, but her child is a citizen of another country, and it’s impossible to just pick him up. Such cases we take on our legal support, and help for free.
In the telephone mode, we operate throughout the territory of Ukraine. But telephone consultation, even a few, can not always significantly help. We have collected a base of organizations that can help women in the field: state, non-state, international, and so on. If a woman needs concrete help, which you can’t help by phone, we give contacts to the organizations closest to her, coordinate when a specialist can be approached, and help her there, and, absolutely free.
Police representative assistance
We would like the local police to react equally professionally to the murder and to cases of domestic violence. But, unfortunately, this is not always the case.
On certain days, we have representatives of the National Police of Ukraine on our “hot line”. We collect all complaints against employees of internal organs, and we ask subscribers to call back in those days when you can talk with the police.
The person calls back, informs details: which policeman did not agree to accept the application or did not respond to it properly, the number of this statement, and so on. A police representative calls the police station, deals with the district police officer. And “on a call from Kiev,” he does everything that a post requires of him: he accepts a statement, conducts work with the offender, makes accountable, etc. Unfortunately, the only way we work with inaction is this.
Domestic violence is not just a beating. It can be psychological, and sexual, and economic. Many of those who endure all this year after year do not even understand that it is violence.
Husband does not beat - and all right. And the fact that he controls every step, makes the brain for the slightest reason, reproaches every penny - so this is just the nature of this. And there can be no sexual abuse in a marriage, because in marriage it is “marital debt.”
It happens that a woman suffers from psychological violence, and she is no longer satisfied with it. And it happens that both sexual, and physical, and economic - everything is mixed. If the husband beats, then he is both morally harassing, and does not ask his wife for consent to sex either. And it has been going on for many years.Therefore, behind each call: “Help me!” Has its own history, and each call requires a special approach, there are simply no general algorithms.
Much depends on the internal resource of a woman, how ready she is to fight. Women who call us are almost always in a state of devastation. "I have nowhere to go, I cannot turn to anyone."
Tell her about her relatives, what is happening to her, in most cases the problem would have been removed long ago. But we prefer to remain silent and mask the bruises.
It is a shame, a taboo, to admit that you are in trouble, that you are being beaten and humiliated in your family, to ask for help.
A good psychologist helps to cope with a sense of shame, to find your inner resource. And the woman finally decides: so, I have a best friend, if she agrees, I can live there for a while until I find a job, or lend some money to rent an apartment.
Addressing relatives is, indeed, an even more therapeutic option than psychological help. Relatives know better the woman herself and the circumstances in which she lives. They will find faster than support, and together they will find a way out.
If, despite everything, the help of relatives and friends is not regarded as an option, we work with the woman. Either we consult, or we send to organizations that will help her at her place of residence.
The attitude of our law enforcement agencies towards domestic violence leaves much to be desired. Even if on your call the police arrived and took the rowdy, he will return home very soon. Unfortunately, to stop beatings, it is almost always the woman who has to leave.
If you find a temporary shelter with friends and relatives - not an option, there are social shelters. Temporary free housing for victims of domestic violence, where women can get the help of psychologists, doctors, lawyers, and sometimes even find a job.
The problem is that there are very few such shelters, they are far from being in all cities and for some reason it can be difficult to get into them. However, there are shelters for victims of domestic violence, and they provide assistance.
Women can live in government shelters for up to three months, and children from three years old can live with them. Shelters at Mother and Child Centers provide shelter to pregnant women and mothers with children up to a year.
A big problem arises when a woman of different age children, say, a year and five years. At the shelter, it can only be taken from a senior, and the younger one needs to be attached somewhere. In the Center for mother and child - only with the younger. Where is the eldest? Give someone? A dad who drinks and is aggressive?
This dissonance knocks the ground out from under the feet. A woman stops believing that they can be helped somewhere.
State shelters are asking for a whole package of documents. First of all - a passport with registration. If you are registered in another area, you may well refuse. In addition to a passport, they may ask for a copy of the statement to the police, the conclusion of a forensic medical examination, referral from social services, etc.
Private shelters do not care what area you are from. The woman suffered, there are places in the shelter - ok, they take her. We need only a certificate that there are no diseases that are dangerous for other residents of the shelter.
The requirement to present registration complicates everything greatly. After all, there are many cases when a husband refuses to register his wife in his home. She lives with him, but is registered with her parents in another city. Or when the husband drove the woman out of the house, and the passport and all the documents remained there, this is generally a problem.
And now, imagine: a woman from the countryside, she needs to find money for the road, spend the whole day to get to the regional center. She will come, and she will be told: sorry, you do not have enough documents.
That is why we always try to help build connections with loved ones, to which a woman can go during the peak period. You can live with friends or relatives, and come to the shelter only for consultations with specialists. Actually, these consultations can be obtained in other public organizations that do not have a shelter at the base, but psychologists, social workers, and lawyers work as well.
We communicate with the majority of our subscribers for some time, until at least 50% of confidence that a person has emerged from a situation of domestic violence appears. This can be really long, especially if the violence itself lasted for many years.
We had a woman who endured bullying, beatings and sexual violence in the family for 15 years. We drove her a year and a half until she decided to act. She took the children and left without a penny. At first she lived with friends, got two jobs, then rented an apartment, everything went well.
These women admire.But, in order to decide on changes, each has to pass its own peak, its own point of no return. And I would not want this peak to happen only after 15 years. Or did not happen at all.
Some women call for years, complain, and do not change anything in life. In my practice, there was a woman who called us for five years. We sincerely tried to help: we conducted dozens of consultations, contacted the shelter ourselves, which we usually do not do, they said: this woman will come to you, give her help. She did not go anywhere, but then she called us again: have pity on me, it is so hard for me now.
But we know that if you just listen and regret, the situation will not be solved. Our psychologists are always trying to find her inner resource in a woman. Because, whatever the cool state. or community organizations, much of the result depends on the woman herself.
If a woman is at least 10% ready to fight, our psychologists will raise this readiness to the desired degree.
Women who need to "pull out", 15 percent of all called. It is really a great deal of work - to dive over and over into the same situation and look for the one hundred and fifteenth way out of it.
We worry about each subscriber, but we can’t let the consultants burn out. And if we see on the “hot line” that after dozens of consultations there are no movements on the part of the woman, then we are forced to suspend communication.
We say: we have developed an algorithm with you, but until you have done anything, we cannot help you anymore. Let's say all this again, and call us again, please, when you make at least the first of these points.
This seemingly hard step stimulates many. Women decide: if there is a consultant who believes in me, if I want to continue to receive help, and finally cope, then I’ll probably feel sorry for myself and whining that nothing will change and something must be done.