Guidance from inaction: what to do if you are a victim of domestic violence
For the first time, the ECHR awarded compensation to a Russian woman who was a victim of domestic violence. Russia is still in the group of countries where women are least protected from violence. This group includes Haiti, the Federated States of Micronesia, Myanmar and Uzbekistan.
The European Court of Human Rights sided with a Russian woman who had been subjected to domestic violence and ordered her to pay compensation of €20,000 and legal expenses. Valeria Volodina, the victim, could only initiate a criminal case for violation of privacy due to the publication of intimate photographs, which was soon closed. The girl went to the police for two years, but was unable to get help from law enforcement agencies. As a result, she had to change her name and leave the country. The ECHR noted that the authorities do not realize the seriousness of the domestic violence problem in Russia.
According to statistics, every year some 12,000-14,000 women die as a result of domestic violence in Russia. It turns out that one woman dies from domestic violence in Russia every hour.
These sad figures are primarily associated with the decriminalization of violence. Now it is only necessary to pay a fine from the family budget for domestic violence. As a result, the law not only fails to protect women from their abusive husbands, but also deprives them and their children of money. Even Interior Minister Vladimir Kolokoltsev acknowledged the ineffectiveness of this type of punishment. “In more than 70% of cases in administrative cases of battery the courts decide to impose a fine, which does not fully meet the goals of punishment. Often this measure is not a serious deterrent, and when it comes to loved ones – imposes an additional financial burden on the family,” – quotes his words the press service of the Interior Ministry.
Russia remains the only country in Europe where there is no law criminalizing domestic violence. New Zealand even provides paid leave for victims of domestic violence, but in Russia, the phrase is traditionally embedded: “When they kill you, then come.”
And these are not just words. We are talking about a case when a woman from Oryol called the police with a request to call the squad, as she was being beaten by her former lover. The police arrived and decided not to interfere in the conflict, but instead threatened to take responsibility for false denunciation. Senior precinct officer Natalia Bashkatova was reluctant to respond to the woman’s complaints about threats from her roommate and said she would not go to the scene next time. “If you are killed, we will go and describe the corpse. Don’t worry.” Forty minutes later the woman was killed by her roommate. Now the prosecutor’s office asks to find the policewoman guilty under article “negligence” and impose a penalty of four years in prison.
The case of the Khachaturyan sisters is now widely publicized. The girls killed their father, because he had been raping them for several years and had been controlling their every move. Appeals to the police ended up only with conversations between the precinct officer and the head of the family. It turns out that in today’s reality, abused women have two options – to wait for the domestic tyrant to kill her himself, or to kill him herself.
According to a study by Mediazone, 80 percent of murders committed by women are related specifically to protection from domestic tyrants.
In the vast majority of cases, women are subjected to domestic violence. However, there are exceptions. Last year in Britain, a 22-year-old girl was sentenced to 7.5 years in prison for domestic violence against her 22-year-old boyfriend with hydrocephalus. She abused him for nine months, pouring boiling water on him while he slept, stabbing him, hacking into his phone, and forbidding him to communicate with his family.
According to a 2018 study by the World Bank Women, Business and the Law, Russia is in the group of countries where women are worst protected from violence. This group, along with Russia, includes Haiti, the Federated States of Micronesia, Myanmar, and Uzbekistan.
To change the situation with violence it is necessary not only to reform the police, but also to change the legal consciousness of citizens as a whole. Right now, precinct officers perceive complaints about a rapist husband as a kind of family conflict that the spouses will sort out on their own. When Margarita Gracheva, whose husband cut off her hands, complained to the police that her husband threatened her with a knife, the precinct officer just had a preventive conversation with him.
What to do if you have been subjected to domestic violence?
Go to the emergency room or other medical facility where you will remove the beating. To the doctor in detail tell about all painful sensations. You will be given a certificate describing all the injuries. The medical personnel are also obliged to notify the police on duty of your treatment.
If you cannot go to a medical facility (e.g., serious injuries), call an ambulance. Be sure to take pictures of all your injuries.
Then go to any police station. In the statement, specify all cases of violence against you, whether there were witnesses of these situations, specify their contacts, whether the violence is of systematic nature. In the end, write a request to initiate a criminal case and bring the perpetrator to justice. Police officers are obliged to accept this statement from you. Provide a copy of the certificate of bodily injury, as well as a photo, if available. Once the report is accepted, you will be given a ticket with a number (CUPP). You will be able to find out about the progress of the case in the future with this number.
If you fear for your life, call the police immediately by calling 02, 112. Police officers will interview you and the rapist, you can draw up a statement on the spot. The police are obliged to take it.
Very often women do not leave the spouse of tyrants because of the financial component. They can be understood: what to feed and clothe young children a woman on maternity leave? But in that case you should remember that, statistically, most children who grew up in an environment of domestic violence, themselves become either victims or abusers.
If you have made the decision to leave your tyrant husband, you must first prepare a “retreat plan”.
1. Find a place where you will feel safe. This can be the apartment of relatives, friends. It is better that your husband does not know about this place.
If you have nowhere to go, there are crisis centers in Moscow that are ready to help women in difficult situations.
“Crisis Center for Women and Children” – M. Timiryazevskaya +7 (499) 977-17-05
Nadezhda” Branch – M. Voykovskaya +7 (499) 729-51-81, +7 (499) 492-26-81 Opening hours: 24/7
Specialized Baby Home “Little Mama” M. Slavyansky Bulvar +7 (495) 442-24-84,+7 (495) 442-40-85 Office hours: 24/7
Crisis Center “Home for Mothers” M. Ploshchad Ilyicha +7 (495) 678-75-46, +7965-262-98-78
Kitezh Help Center +7 (916) 920-10-30
Crisis centers provide housing, psychological help, and legal support. Some centers offer courses (e.g., hairdresser, accountant) which enable women to acquire a new profession and become employed more quickly.
2. Destroy all the things that could tell the rapist where you are.
3. notify your neighbors, so that in case of screams, noise in your apartment, they immediately call the police.
4. Inform your relatives or trusted friends that you have been subjected to domestic violence.
5. Pack an “emergency suitcase” – a bag of basic necessities, medicine, documents and money, which should be enough for the first period of independent life.
6. Download a special application for your phone, for example SILSILA. There is a special button – send a message with the location of the victim of violence with one click to a pre-selected contact.
Many women believe that violence once will never happen again. But practice shows that this is not the case. Sometimes it is impossible to recognize an abuser. But it is worth paying attention if your man reads your correspondence, controls your every move, does not let you go out with friends, is often aggressive without reason, short-tempered, violent with pets, prohibits you to communicate with any of your relatives, friends, indicates how you dress.
Psychologically, it is very difficult to get out of a violent relationship. The woman will think to the end that it is still possible to fix something and everything will be like before. The main thing here is to recognize the problem and not be afraid to ask for help. There are psychological hotlines that can help in difficult situations:
All-Russian helpline for women victims of domestic violence: 8-800-7000-600
Emergency Psychological Assistance Center of the Russian Emergency Ministry: 8 (495) 989-50-50
Moscow Psychological Aid Center: 051 city phone; 8-495-051 cell phone
Sisters Center +7 (499) 901 02 01 (weekdays 10 to 20)
At this time in Russia, there is no law that provides for criminal liability specifically for domestic violence. However, the Criminal Code contains the following articles: 111 “Intentional infliction of grievous bodily harm”, 112 “Intentional infliction of moderate bodily harm”, 115 “Intentional infliction of minor bodily harm”, 116 “Beating” and 119 “Threatening to kill or cause grievous bodily harm”. The problem is that women rarely take a case to court. Some hope to keep their families together, while others lack the energy and resources to gather evidence and interact with the state justice machine.
Society also puts pressure on victims of violence. It is assumed that all the deprivations and hardships must be endured for the sake of the children (they must have a father). And besides, a woman without a man in Russian society is often perceived as inferior. “There is definitely something wrong with her.”
Preventing domestic violence is a complex and painstaking job. If someone hits you on the street, you are unlikely to encounter that person again, except in court or with the police. But with a domestic abuser, a woman has to talk, eat breakfast, sleep in the same bed every day. This puts an additional imprint on the psyche of the victim, does not allow her to mentally even go beyond the daily routine, where violence is a normal phenomenon.
Russia needs, at the very least, to adopt foreign experience – to introduce protective orders that would prohibit a domestic tyrant from approaching a woman. We need more crisis centers, there are not enough of them in the regions, and additional government funding is needed for this.
In Israel there are special rehabilitation centers for men. In Russia, too, such facilities could be created to allow men to cope with aggression, where they would be sent by court order.
It is also necessary to clearly define the concept of domestic violence, as it includes not only physical violence, but also psychological, economic and sexual violence.
It is necessary to change the legal consciousness of citizens, to widely discuss the topic of domestic violence in the press, to show that it is not shameful and important to talk about it. After all, according to a recent study by the agency “Mikhailov and Partners. Analytics” agency, 63% of Russians believe that women provoke men to violence by their very appearance and behavior, and this is a very sad statistic.
How to protect yourself from violence?
The main peculiarity of domestic violence is the fact that when you try to break up the relationship, the danger to the victim sharply increases. Therefore, in a situation where there is no more strength to tolerate, it is necessary to think through everything in advance and secure yourself:
- collect the keys to the apartment, documents, if possible money, as well as the most necessary things: clothes, medicines (own and children’s, if any) and hide them in an accessible but safe place – with relatives, with acquaintances;
- arrange with reliable neighbors to call the police if they hear distinctive screams from the apartment;
- Do not threaten to leave in vain, remember the “law of the jungle”: first act, then raise your voice. If you only threaten, gradually your shares will fall to zero: no one will believe you anymore – and first of all you yourself will lose faith in your ability to carry out your intention;
- Agree in advance with relatives, friends or acquaintances (preferably unknown to the aggressor) to provide him with shelter in case of need; hide and destroy all addresses that would help him in his search. Even better – contact a specialized crisis center to help victims of violence. Do not run away from the apartment “as is”, an unprepared escape will force you to return soon – usually under extremely disadvantageous conditions;
- Try to take all measures so that children do not become witnesses (and even more so, victims) of violence;
- if violence against you or your children is committed, try to tell as many people as possible about it: neighbors, friends, relatives, co-workers – later they can become your witnesses in court;
- Speaking of the court: in the case of physical harm (beating, sexual abuse, etc.) must be examined in a medical institution (go to for example, in the trauma or gynecological department). There you will be examined, provided with medical care and issued a certificate of battery. This certificate will later be the main document in a criminal case. And you MUST write a statement to the police.
For many people, the procedure for contacting the police is often a difficult problem to solve. Applying to the police, people may encounter difficulties in drawing up an application, the order of its filing and appealing against illegal actions of police officers. Very often when you go to the police you may hear: the complaint is filed to the wrong place, you should go to another police station or Department of Internal Affairs; the complaint or report does not see the corpus delicti; the police are not engaged in solving family problems – in a couple of days the spouses will reconcile, and the police will be guilty of bringing one of the spouses to justice; we have thousands of similar applications, and no one will deal with your complaint; the fight against domestic violence is not a priority for law enforcement agencies, more relevant pr This “wait” can go on for quite a long time, after which the applicant’s patience comes to an end and he does not leave.
There are many reasons for the refusal to accept an application by police officers. However, no matter how plausible these reasons may look and no matter what they say, you must remember that such actions are illegal. Any statement about a crime that is being prepared or committed by police officers MUST be accepted! The statement about the prepared or committed crime can be made both verbally and in writing. The oral statement is recorded in the protocol, which is signed by the complainant and the official who received the statement. A written statement must begin with the name of the addressee – it is enough to specify the district, the number of the police station and its address. The name and rank of the chief need not be indicated. The statement should include the data about the applicant. In the text of the statement itself, you must describe the circumstances of what happened, the place where it happened, if possible, the time of the incident, while avoiding personal assessments, only facts. It is necessary to specify what kind of harm was caused to the victim. For example, if the blow was made, where exactly, if any object was used, indicate this object, what and where were the traces left (bruises, scratches, etc.), did the person appeal for medical help (indicate where and when).
After acceptance of the application, the applicant shall be given a strictly accountable document, called a notification coupon, which is used to monitor the completeness of the registration of the application (or report of a crime). Talon-notification consists of two parts – a tear-off sheet and a stub with the same registration number. The tear-off sheet, which contains information about the date and time of receipt of the application, the official who received it and the applicant, is handed over to the applicant. The coupon stub, which records information about the applicant, a summary and the date of receipt of the application, as well as the number and date of its registration in the Book of complaints and reports of crimes (CPRC), remains with the employee. The applicant signs on the stub of the notification coupon and puts the time and date. This seemingly trivial document, which many people simply do not pay attention to, will be the first document confirming the relationship between the complainant and the police.
The applicant’s direct presence when filing an application with a body of internal affairs is not necessary. The applicant also has the right to apply to ROVD, UVD with a written statement, sent by mail. Do not forget that it is better to send such a letter by registered mail with return notification about receipt of the statement by the police. In this case, the date of acceptance of the letter specified on the notice and the notice itself will be a proof of appeal to the police. Often it is the way of addressing by mail is the most effective, because the office of each police department is obliged to accept and register ANY application or message received at its address. And in this case, it is simply impossible to refuse to accept the application or message. According to the results of consideration of the application as a general rule within 3 days (in exceptional cases 10 days, and if there is a need for documentary checks or audits – up to 30 days) one of three decisions is made and brought to the applicant’s attention:
- A criminal case is initiated;
- a decision not to institute criminal proceedings is made;
- the application may be referred by the person who received it for consideration by a court or prosecutor’s office.
- An appeal may be made against any of these decisions or actions to the prosecutor’s office or court. In any case, the act of violence is a gross violation of human rights that must not go unpunished.
Impunity is the most powerful factor provoking and encouraging violence! Remember that in 95 percent of cases, if physical or sexual violence has already occurred, it will not stop at one incident. And events will occur in ascending order: with each subsequent time the degree of cruelty and frequency of repetition increases.
The proverb “Saving the drowning men is a matter for the drowning men” does not make any sense. In a critical situation, the most important thing is not to be confused. If you have been subjected to domestic violence, you need to soberly assess the situation, calm down and ask for help. A special role in the system of state institutions, which can provide assistance to women who have suffered from violence, is played by medical institutions, police, public organizations working with this problem, crisis centers, shelters for victims of domestic violence. One of the leading organizations in this field is the non-governmental organization “Stop Violence” Russian Association of Crisis Centers for Women (www.nasiliestop.ru, tel./f.: 8 (495) 438-61-15, hotline 8 (495) 473-63-41).
What Domestic Violence Assistance Programs Offer
A crisis center offers a safe haven from abuse and can also provide a woman with information about her rights and options. Many programs provide specialized assistance to children traumatized by the presence of incidents of abuse. Women can meet with other abused women and help overcome feelings of isolation and self-blame. Most programs promote a position of strength in which the woman is viewed not as sick and abnormal because she was beaten, but as a survivor of trauma who needs support to regain her self-esteem and her ability to make decisions about the best way to protect herself and her child. In addition, many programs offer affordable counseling services for those women in the community who may not need to live in an emergency situation, but may feel the need to recover from past or current abuse, or have just ended an abusive relationship and are continuing to build their lives.
Programs for children provide a safe place for children, try to help them sort out feelings about their father and mother, and help them learn how to plan for their safety. These programs also teach children how to protect themselves and how to recover from the trauma of witnessing the abuse of their loved one, their mother.
Many of these programs offer structured groups dealing with issues like understanding the dynamics of abuse, responding to anger, understanding legal rights, understanding the impact of domestic violence on children, creating and conducting safety plans, and giving each other emotional support during life-saving decisions.
Almost all programs have a hotline. It is fairly common for victims in the community to call it anonymously or call back many times before actually coming to the agency for help. This hotline is available not only to victims of domestic violence, but also to sympathetic friends and family members, as well as to professionals who need more accurate information about the services available in the community.
Another component of some domestic violence assistance programs is legal advocacy and, in some cases, legal representation. Advocates can educate survivors about their rights and options.