Mom is the strongest person in the world. She will protect from bad people, evil words and bad thoughts, and my mother’s hug seems to be able to cure any disease. But sometimes she needs help herself, and often there is simply no one to protect her mother.
But there is still hope – in the face of crisis centers and shelters, where, without the help of the state, caring people help women in trouble. On the eve of March 8, correspondent Sasha Simutina traveled to such a center to see how victims of domestic violence live, how they get back on their feet after years of humiliation, pain and fear.
The topic of domestic violence is painful for Russia – according to a study by the Consortium of Women’s Non-Profit Associations, more than half of the dead women in Russia die at the hands of a partner or relative.
For the study, experts manually analyzed the sentences for murderers of women in 2018 and found the following: in 2018, 8,300 women were killed, of which at least 5,000 were killed in situations of domestic violence. At the same time, Russia did not participate in international studies, but 61% is a commensurate level for our country, and against the global background these figures look real. At the same time, the official data of the Ministry of Internal Affairs looks more rosy – only 253 women died from domestic violence in 2018.
“When I left, I thought about my daughter.”
Anya (the name was changed at the request of the heroine. – Ed. Note) has been living in the “Mother’s House” longer than anyone else, for 3 years already. She is 32 years old, although she looks younger. Her five-year-old daughter is lying next to her on the bed, watching cartoons on YouTube with her friend. The youngest son insistently asks for attention, pulling Anna by the T-shirt – he was born after Anya ran away from her husband and ended up in a crisis center.
Her story is similar to that of thousands of other women victims of domestic violence. And that makes it worse.
– We met through our mutual friend, he is a classmate of my classmate. I liked it so much right away – he was very calm, reasonable. We got married, had a daughter, and everything was fine. True, he often did not spend the night at home, saying that he worked as a taxi driver. He came home without money, slept all day and left again. I closed my eyes to this – I loved him very much, – biting my lip, says the girl.
Anya is from Kyzyl, where she studied to be a zootechnician at the agrarian university, and in her free time she went to the village to visit her mother, who lived near the city. And everything was fine until my mother died. There was no one else to protect the girl, and her husband began to beat her.
– It all started in 2017. He also came in the morning, but he did not hide that he was using drugs. He was very angry, beat me for everything. I ask a question – and he rushes and hits me. He disappeared at night, walked with other girls. And somehow his sister came to us, we left our daughter with her and went for a walk. We were walking across the bridge, and suddenly he began to beat me. He just wanted to throw me off the bridge, not walk. People saw what was happening, started honking, dragged me away, but then he still beat me – knocked out all my upper teeth, they remained there on that bridge. Immediately I was swollen all over. But then I realized that we had to look for a way to leave, – says Anya.
The husband beat Anya every day, raised his hand to the little daughter. In October 2017, the girl finally decided to escape from the tyrant – she was helped by a friend who was going to move to Krasnoyarsk. She bought Anya a train ticket.
Already in Krasnoyarsk, the friends rented a “dormitory” and got a job in shifts at a grocery store. And then it turned out that Anya was pregnant.
– Nausea, vomiting, poor health began. I made a positive test. When at the 5th month my belly grew, they said at work: “We don’t keep pregnant women here.” Then I didn’t know what to do. And then – whether it was God who guided me, or whether my mother helped me – I got in touch with a friend who lived in the “Mother’s House”. And in mid-February 2018, I moved here. And now I have been living here for three years.
Anya had a son here – for him she received maternity capital and was even able to buy a room in a hostel. She could not live in the hostel itself – due to the fact that Anya is Tuvinka, unsuccessful neighbors treated her badly. Then she began to rent a room, and she herself – to rent a separate one. But the tenants turned out to be unscrupulous and left Anya in debt.
The girl returned to the “Mother’s House” again and still lives here. She has already learned to be a manicure master, she also plans to learn permanent make-up and make money with it. And then, when he gets stronger and the children go to kindergarten, still move. The daughter is about to go to kindergarten, and the son is still in line.
– When I left, I thought about my daughter. And I advise other women: “Think first of all about children! If there are no children, think about yourself. The main thing is to leave. “
The girl admits that she has been afraid of men since then, and does not know if she will ever be able to fall in love again. But I am sure that if love comes, she will definitely accept this man. Now the main thing for a girl is her children.
– How do you celebrate March 8?
– We get together at the table, prepare delicious dishes, eat cakes. Fathers from church come to us and give gifts. This is a real holiday for us.
Mom Julia and “Uncle Day”
– I worked in an orphanage where children were sent to before being sent to an orphanage. I didn’t think I would work with moms. By the nature of her work, she helped families so that the children did not end up in an orphanage, but still stay with the family, and this is how the idea of a crisis center came about. We thought that the state would allocate space for us and we would build up, but it so happened that it was necessary to urgently save one mother with three children. We rented a three-ruble note, and within three months there were 17 people living there, ”recalls the head of the Mother’s House, Yulia Doronina.
The crisis center is fully supported by her and her husband Andrei (local children, having barely learned to speak, call him “Uncle Day” – Ed.), Who supports his wife in everything and is the director of the organization. After “three rubles”, “Mother’s House” moved to premises on Vilsky Street, where it turned out to organize a real shelter with a shared shower with several booths, rooms for 10 families, and a large kitchen.
Two families live in each room: they try not to lodge less, but also more, too, since this helps both the wards and their children to socialize. Each has its own responsibilities. And those who have already gotten to their feet a little and got stronger, but have not yet moved out, pay little money for living in the “Mother’s House”. According to Yulia, this teaches them responsibility, because often, when receiving their first salary, girls do not save money for the future, but spend on their personal whims. Moreover, providing such a shelter is not cheap. But the lion’s share of the costs falls on the shoulders of investors and donors.
– We do not receive subsidies from the state, we are supported by large businessmen and ordinary people. They bring food and things, partly pay the rent. I have plans to build a full-fledged house for my mother – we have already bought land for this, and I got a job at a gas station in order to get a loan for myself and pay it off from my salary. Material assistance is relevant for us, but even if we don’t collect money for the house with donations, we will close this loan and take a new one to make repairs there, ”Yulia shares her plans.
Last year, a scandal erupted around the “Mother’s House” – disgruntled residents wanted to get evicted, and the management company added fuel to the fire. The fact is that the owner of the building did not pay utility bills for some time, but in the end the situation was resolved. There were only a couple of disgruntled residents of the five-story building, collecting signatures against the orphanage, while the rest, on the contrary, supported Julia and her wards in every possible way.
“Mother’s House” is the only crisis center in Krasnoyarsk. Previously, the city also had a shelter for the crisis center “Verba”, but now its wards live here, in the “Mother’s House”. There is also a social shelter “Rodnik” in Krasnoyarsk, but not only victims of domestic violence live there.
I must leave right away
According to Yulia Doronina, during the pandemic there were more complaints, but not all reach the crisis center – it happens that 2-3 months pass between the call and the arrival at the “Mother’s House”.
– Coming here is a decisive step for mom. As a rule, they cling to their relationship to the last like a straw. Among the guests there are not only victims of violence – there are also those who followed their husband to Krasnoyarsk for great love, but the husband turned out to be irresponsible and abandoned. But she has no place to live and the child is small in her arms. Often, orphanage girls come to us, dreaming of great love, but unable to build relationships, since there was no example. There are many girls from disadvantaged families who, due to low self-esteem, can endure humiliation and beatings for a long time. Many guests saw domestic violence in childhood, dad beat mom, and for them this behavior is normal, they do not have a clearly negative attitude towards this. It’s easier to break the bond with an abuser husband for those who experience violence for the first time, says Yulia.
Women often endure to the last. Fines and administrative arrests, which are applied as sanctions to rapists, do not work, but only make the abusive husbands more angry. Some end up in a crisis center, terrified to the point of impossibility.
– We had situations when mothers came, panicked, said: “He is terrible, everyone is afraid of him, he has a gun.” But when we met with them, in reality everything turned out to be wrong, yet fear has big eyes. For all the time, three people decided to enter into open confrontation with us – they came, threatened the girls, me, they broke the windows. Therefore, we put bars and iron doors on the windows. Usually, if we do not have acute situations, our doors are open. If there is a real threat, we close everything, and it’s not easy to get in to us.
But even if the man in fact turns out to be not so scary, there is no need to return to him. Julia advises: you must leave at the first sign of abuse. Insults, humiliates – leave. If a man raises his hand, it means that he has already crossed the line and will do it regularly. And then he will beat the children.
Psychologists work with women in the “Mother’s House”, but no one keeps them forcibly. And there are stories of them going back to their husbands. Some of these stories ended in tragedy.
– Once my mother turned to us for help, but when her husband called her back, she decided to return. Moreover, her eldest daughter did not want to return to any, so she stayed with us, and the woman took the younger children and left. After a while, we learned that she was dead. We were summoned to the court to testify. The children were then taken away by relatives, – recalls Yulia Doronina.
Society often asks women who are victims of domestic violence: why didn’t she leave? Leaving is not always an option. Some are harassed by their husbands for years, and victims of domestic violence are mentally broken and easily manipulated.
One of the wards of the “House of Mother” my husband found everywhere. She was hiding from him for 10 years, and he was looking for her for 10 years. When she got to the shelter, he knocked out the windows. But there was such a strong codependency that, despite the terrible attitude, the woman returned to him. He was great with children, and he kicked and beat his wife until the ligaments ruptured. The last time he broke her ribs – then she still found the strength to leave forever. She’s doing well now.
How women begin to live after experiencing violence
– Now one of our volunteers is a mom with three children. She came to us, afraid of her own shadow. The neighbors took her out of the house secretly. Already being here, she constantly drew the curtains and closed the doors so that her husband would not see her and would not enter. She shouted: “He has a pistol, he will shoot everyone here, he has connections in the criminal world.” Then he found it through a SIM card, came here, and our girls forgot to close the door. I go out – there is a man. He started to run into me, but quickly realized that he had run into the wrong one.
After much persuasion, they were allowed to communicate with the children under our supervision. And he began to talk to her so affectionately that she allowed him to walk alone with the children. He went over the threshold and said: “You are not going to come back – you will not see the children.” We admonished her for two days that she did not need to return, but that she had to write a statement. She left anyway and he beat her to bruises and knocked out teeth. And he even took the beatings off himself, although when we took her away, we saw that he was safe and sound, and there was no living place on her.
As a result, he stole the child and kept it for 8 months, taught another woman to call her mother. But in court, we made sure that the guardianship sided with the mother, and the child was returned. Everything went well for her, she bought housing on a mortgage and got a job in court. This girl has a law degree. And now she is very good at supporting our mothers, – adds Yulia.
There are many positive examples, and some stories cannot be called anything other than a miracle.
Once in the “House of Mother” there was a girl from Ukraine who fled here from the war. Her daughter had acquired cerebral palsy. The girl herself could not do anything – neither walk, nor get off the chair. Living with other children, the girl was able to socialize almost completely, learned to walk, became active – and now her differences from other children are almost imperceptible.
Another story – dad beat mom so that the boy fell silent. He was given “acquired autism.”
– The doctors said: “If a miracle does not happen, he will not speak.” A miracle happened and he spoke. His first word was “Uncle Dey” – Uncle Andrey, this is my husband. As a result, this girl was able to organize her own business and now provides us with a warehouse where we store our things.
How to help the “Mother’s House”?
The Mother House has a group on VKontakte, where all the requisites for help are indicated. A crisis center always needs things – for all ages, sizes and genders. The main thing is that things are in good condition, clean and whole.
We need help in maintaining social networks, and since in addition to the crisis center, Yulia and her husband are engaged in targeted assistance to families in difficult situations, we need volunteers who will be ready to deliver food and things by car.
Moreover, the “Mother’s House” is always glad to have guests who can simply come and talk with the wards and their children. Therefore, on March 8, graduates of the orphanage and its current residents will gather at a common table. This holiday is always special for them.
In the playroom, a toddler of about two years old clings to the shoulders of an older boy who patiently carries his younger roommate and smiles at him warmly. And if mothers want to go into an independent life, then the children are good here – there are many toys, and most importantly, friends are nearby.
Yulia looks at the children with warmth – her children grew up with her long ago and left to study.
– I have always dreamed that I would have many adopted children. Sometimes I look, when some mother doesn’t want to take care of the child, I think I’ll take him under my care. I started all this for the sake of the children, so sometimes I think: now these will graduate, these will graduate, and I will finish everything, hand it over to someone, and I myself will study the children, it will be possible to relax. But so far there is no end and edge to this, – says Yulia.