FJA 2020 Shortlist 

Category: Contribution to Civil Rights

Oleksandra Horchynska (Ukraine)

Come When Murdered. The NV Survey on Domestic Violence


«Come When Murdered». The NV Survey on Domestic Violence

Novoye Vremya Strany

September 25, 2019

The original publication is available via the following link:

English translation

NV (Novoe Vremya magazine (New Time), together with online educa1on studio EdEra, conducted an anonymous survey aimed at finding out what Ukrainians know about domestic violence, whether they can distinguish between its types and what they do if they witness such situations.

67% of women aged 15 years and older have experienced psychological, physical or sexual abuse by a partner or another person. 47% of women call themselves ignorant or do not know what to do in such situations. These data are cited by the OSCE in its study on the well-being and safety of women. It was held in 2018 in eight southeastern and eastern European countries, including Ukraine.

About one in four women accuses the vic1ms, not the offenders, of commiting violence. According to such women, it is most likely that the vic1ms themselves provoke violent acts against themselves.

HV, together with online education studio EdEra, launched an anonymous survey to find out what Ukrainians know about domestic violence today.

Two thousand 500 respondents passed the polls, of which 87.7% were women, 12.2% were men, and 0.1% identified their gender as Other. 15.2% of respondents are aged 21–25 years old, 17.6% are 26–30 years old, 17.4% are 31–35 years old, 12.7% are people aged 36–40 years. Other age categories make up less than 10%.

We asked our respondents whether they had witnessed domestic violence or committed it themselves, whether they knew of cases where the victims were children and the elderly, and whether the victims were aware of themselves as victims.


According to the WHO definition, violence is a deliberate use of physical force or power, actual or in the form of a threat, directed against oneself, against another person, group of people or the community, resulting in bodily harm, death, psychological trauma, developmental disabilities or various kinds damage, or a high probability of occurrence of the listed consequences.

Violence can include acts committed against a person or group of persons without prior consent. There are four types of violence: physical, sexual, psychological and economic.

We asked our respondents if they knew about this. 88.5% of NV respondents said they knew about all four types of violence. And only 8.2% thought that violence was when they were only raped or beaten.

“From my own experience, I can say that today most people already actually single out several types of violence. At the very least, physical and psychological abuse is accurately identified. It’s a little more difficult with the economic and sexual,” Oksana Stepanyuk, a psychologist, comments on NV.

In the case of sexual violence, for example, the well-known attitude about “conjugal duty” plays a significant role. Like, if you are married, you must satisfy the need of your partner or partner in sex at any time, even if you do not want it yourself.

19% of women surveyed in the OSCE’s ‘Well-being and Safety of a Woman survey’ responded: having sex with a woman without her consent is considered jus1fied if this happens in a marriage or between partners living together.

At the same time, to the question of NV: “Do you think that your partner / partner should satisfy your need for regular sex?” only 7.1% of respondents said they fully agree with this opinion. 39.6% - do not agree, 27.1% partially agree, 26.2% noted that it is difficult for them to answer this question.

A step forward in terms of a better understanding of this problem is the new law on comba1ng domestic violence, which entered into force on January 11, 2019, said Oksana Stepanyuk. If earlier it was considered consent to sex, if the person did not say “no”, now - only if a clear “yes” was voiced.

According to UN Women, one in four Ukrainian women aged 15–49 years has suffered from sexual or physical violence at least once in their life. Indeed, women are olen the victims, said Stepanyuk.

However, we should not omit the op1on in which men also suffer from violence. In addition, it’s psychologically more difficult for a man to admit that a woman is beating him, the psychologist adds:

-      If we are talking about sexual violence, then, of course, it is more difficult for a woman to do this in relation to her husband. However, in reality, other men often commit sexual violence against men - do not be silent about this.

Zoya Melnik, a former Odessa patrol police officer who specialized in domestic violence challenges in particular, agrees with her. Olen, one person may suffer from the violent actions of another - for example, a father from the actions of an adult son, or a teenage son or step son from the actions of his father or stepfather.

A very small percentage of these men decide to contact the police with this problem, says Melnik. She gives an example:

“Over the four years of my work there have been such cases - you can count on the fingers. For example, once we arrived at a call where the injured person was a man who was beaten by his partner. The woman was drunk, had an alcohol dependence. This man, even though he himself was a victim, did not want to write a statement about his offender, he even felt sorry for her because she had problems with alcohol”.


According to the online education studio EdEra, more than 1 million people in Ukraine annually suffer from various forms of domestic violence. 97% of NV respondents noted that, in their opinion, there really is a problem with domestic violence in Ukraine, 2.7% chose the “Difficult to answer” option, and only 0.3% - that there is no such problem.

For example, 38.6% of respondents in a question with a mul1variate index indicated that their parents or older rela1ves committed violence against them, 7.5% said that they were being abused by their folks. In the field where it was possible to give a short detailed answer, the respondents wrote that they faced bullying, bea1ng, psychological pressure, aggression from relatives, control of actions and expenses and the like.

“A person, so to say, behaves like an animal - the one who is weaker suffers, and the one who is stronger beats. Women can beat older people, children, but men can beat women, children, etc.” says Zoya Melnik.

On the issue of economic violence, 5.6% of respondents said that they committed violent acts of this nature, for example, controlling the expenses of a partner or partner, but then they realized that it was bad, another 6.6% did it, but did not consider it violence.

“This is a very twofold situaBon. OEen situaBons occur in the family when, for example, a husband earns money, whose duBes include maintaining the family. But when he brings this money home, the wife takes the whole amount and decides how to dispose of it. In my opinion, if in this case the husband will be interested in the woman where she spent the money, this curiosity can be fully justified. AEer all, he earned this money, so he has the right to know what they are going to,” Oksana Stepanyuk suggests.

However, here it is necessary to clearly understand where the border passes, and not to cross it. Enhanced control, coercion to report for every penny spent, coercion to show online extracts from Privat24, where there is a detailed list of all transfers and expenses - this is economic violence that does not need to be justified.

We also asked respondents if they believed that domestic violence could be justified. 52.8% said that violence can never be jus1fied, 43.1% - only if it is self-defense or a response to other violent acts, only 3.9% said that domestic violence can be justified, but in certain cases . Only 0.3% believe that domestic violence is always justified.


Stereotypes, attitudes and norms of behavior, which for one reason or another are considered socially “acceptable” or, conversely, “unacceptable,” olen affect how people perceive conflicts within the family. One of the most common stereotypes: it’s a shame to be a victim of domestic violence, says Oksana Stepanyuk. Moreover, it can be embarrassing for several reasons:

“For example, it’s a shame that things came to this – the victims can really consider themselves guilty of what is happening. Or it’s a shame for your choice - that the person chose this particular partner or partner. Often, public condemnation influences the formation of feelings of shame, when others blame the injured person, they say, you yourself or you chose this, so why now you complain,” says Stepanyuk.

As for the respondents to NV, 12.9% think that being a vic1m of domestic violence is a shame, another 18.1% chose the option “Difficult to answer”. The majority, and this is 69%, do not think that being in this position is embarrassing.

However, these indicators will differ depending on which region or area in ques1on. For example, in rural areas, many women are still convinced that it is better to live with “whatever” but a husband, than generally without him. Even if this husband drinks, beats and deceives, says Stepanyuk. This often happens because rural women, in principle, have no wide choice - there are not many options within the village.

Other popular stereotypes about domestic violence - as if serious, regular conflicts can only happen in dysfunc1onal families. For example, those where one of the partners is abusing alcohol or drugs. Indeed, alcohol or drugs can be an additional factor that catalyzes outbreaks of domestic violence.

However, it olen happens and vice versa: in a completely happy and prosperous, at first glance, family, there may be constant quarrels and bea1ngs. Olen in such families in public, the offender plays the role of a perfect, caring family man, but when he crosses the threshold of his own house, removes this mask. Such people are called toxic - such types of people as narcissists, psychopaths, sociopaths belong to this category.

“The characteristic features of toxic people are observa1on, as well as their ability to play different roles. They put their own needs first, emotionally empty, not able to empathize. These people usually have the main task - to remove someone else's resource. They used to be called emotional vampires,” says the psychologist.

8.5% of the respondents to NV believe that if a person who has commi"ed violence asks for forgiveness, he should be forgiven, 37.2% - that it’s not worth forgiving. The majority - 54.3% - were at a loss to give a definite answer and chose the op1on “Difficult to answer”.

67.8% of respondents are sure: if a person has committed domestic violence once, he will commit it again and again. 27.7% - do not have a clear answer, only 4.5% answered that the offender, having committed such ac1ons once, would not repeat them again.


Oksana Stepanyuk recalls another popular stereotype in society - about the female and male roles. If a person has several girlfriends and a wife at once, he will most likely be perceived as a “macho” - a strong, dexterous man who is able to give his attention to several females at once.

If a woman has several lovers, her behavior is more likely to be dubbed frivolous, compared to a prostitute. That is why adultery is perceived differently.

2.8% of NV respondents believe that a woman has the right to hit a partner for treason, only 0.6% - that a man has the right to hit a woman for treason, 5.1% - that everyone has the right to hit a partner or partner for treason. 92.9% are sure that no one has the right to beat a partner or a partner for treason.

In answers to the ques1on: “Among those situa1ons, mark those that have happened in your life”, more percent have the following op1ons: 27.1% - olen cri1cizes me, 20.1% - unreasonably yells at me, 16.7% - unreasonably accuses me of an affair on the side; 11.5% - checks where I was / was and does not believe what I tell.

Usually, people criticize others for two reasons, explains Oksana Stepanyuk. First, they hate what they criticize the other, in themselves. For example, they criticize a person who is late, although they are constantly late, but cannot eradicate this habit in themselves.

The second reason - they criticize another person for the fact that he allows himself something that we ourselves cannot afford for one reason or another. This can be internal attitudes, and upbringing, fear of condemnation, and the like.

“Let’s say I will criticize another woman for ea1ng ice cream herself without it to her own child. In fact, the problem is that I have long dreamed of doing the same - to enjoy ice cream myself, without sharing it with anyone, ” the interlocutor gives an example.

NV respondents left dozens of anonymous stories on the topic of domestic violence in pairs in the questionnaire. Here is one of them:

“For a long 13 years I lived with a partner who despised me, devalued me, insulted me, and did not consider me a full-fledged partner. He perceived me exclusively as a “function” of the family’s life support - him and his three children. He expressed constant complaints: “You don’t have sex”, “You don’t want sex with me”, “Untidy!”, “You do not tell me where you are and what you are doing”, “Do you think you have achieved something? You are wrong!”, “You do not treat me like you should". All the time I was in manipulations on his part - give me your housing, your body, your brain, your ideas, your energy. And nothing to myself. All I could do is curse in return.

Until I turned to a specialist, a psychologist, for help, I was sure that something was wrong with me. Being under constant tension, she was frustrated by children: a"acked them, scolded, beat, humiliated. I suffered a lot from this. When I worked with a psychologist, I realized that I was in a situa1on of domestic violence, both as a victim and as a tyrant. Therefore filed for divorce. A lawsuit is underway, during which my husband continues to tell lies about me. "


Olen the person who commits the violence himself has had a similar traumatic experience in the past, said Oksana Stepanyuk. For example, was a victim or witness of violence in childhood. And therefore, that experience unconsciously transfers the pattern of interac1on with people to others already in its behavior: parents did this, so I will do it.

43.4% of respondents said that in childhood they saw parents sometimes shouting at each other, another 40.2% - that parents olen shouted at each other. Many responded that they remember how parents beat each other, or how parents shouted at them, committed violent acts of a different nature.

“In fact, not all adults know what to do if they experience domestic violence. What to speak about children? Children very rarely go to the police with complaints of domestic violence by their parents”, explains Zoya Melnik.

Children suffering from domestic violence in the family olen hesitate to ask other adults for help, in par1cular in specialized institutions. They olen run away from home to save themselves - to the street or to friends. Society olen condemns children running away from home without even understanding the reasons, Melnik adds.

She says she repeatedly wrote about such stories on her Facebook. In the comments, people discussed the appearance of the girls who ran away from home, and their “not childish” lifestyle and behavior, instead of analyzing the real problem - cruelty, aggression, and a lack of understanding of the house.

“They rarely run away from good conditions,” adds the former police officer.

There is another side to the coin – state boarding schools and orphanages for children, the conditions in which are some1mes even worse than in the house from which such a child escaped. This psychological pressure and humiliation from boarding school teachers, poor food, old worn clothes, coercion to give personal things, such as a telephone, and the like.

While children are temporarily removed from families where they are bullied, parents usually spend a minimum of work - a fine that most do not pay, short conversa1ons, and if there are no additional aggravating circumstances and reasons for depriving parents of their rights, aler some time is simply returned to the family of children.

What happens? What in such situations is actually punishing children, not parents. Aler all, children, although they are vic1ms, are forced to suffer additionally, ”says Zoya Melnik.


Olen the victims of domestic violence are completely or partially incompetent people, people with mental disabilities, etc. - that is, those who cannot stand up for themselves and are much weaker than their offenders both physically and psychologically.

The NV survey shows: 19.6% of respondents are unaware that very often elderly people suffer from domestic violence. 41.9% know about such cases only from news or TV shows, 14.9% of respondents had such cases in their family, another 23.6% heard about this from the experience of acquaintances.

“Indeed, older people olen suffer from domestic violence. Moreover, yes, olen the reason for this is precisely the division of property. This happens, for example, when people live for ten people in a three- room apartment, everyone wants personal space, but there is no possibility to part, so as soon as it becomes possible to apply for some kind of housing from, say, an older relative, sometimes violent methods may turn on ”, - Oksana Stepanyuk comments on this issue.

For people with disabilities, the situa1on is more complicated. Not all people with disabilities can simply go to a social center or the police and admit that they suffer from domestic violence, says Stepanyuk.

Not everyone can even call somewhere and ask for help. It is especially difficult when it comes to mental features, when a person with a disability is simply not able to tell anything.

If such cases become known, the expert says, it is most likely due to a third party - neighbors, rela1ves who learned about the violence and decided to report it to the police.


Today, under article 115 of the Criminal Code, Deliberate murder in Ukraine is serving 526 women. About 8 out of 10 women who ended up in jail under this article, committed self-defense: they killed their husband or partner, who regularly offended themselves or their children, says Oksana Stepanyuk.

One of the most striking illustrations for this problem is the case of the Khachaturian sisters, which received wide publicity in the world media. In July 2018, in Moscow, three Khachaturian sisters, aged 17, 18 and 19 years old, killed their own father, Mikhail Khachaturian. Subsequently, it was said that the father regularly offended them, regularly committed violent acts against them.

The popular saying that “you don’t have to take dirty linen out of the house” has shaped another common stereotype - that violence is an exclusively internal family affair, in which no one has the right to interfere.

When asked whether a third party can intervene in the situa1on of domestic violence, 43.2% of respondents said yes, only if this third party is specialists, for example, psychotherapists, social workers, etc. 29.9% say that anyone can intervene. Only 4.3% - that only close friends or relatives can intervene.

“She saved her friend after her husband beat her in front of their young child. In particular, she called the police, took her to the hospital for examination, and then to remove the beatings. After that, I had to fight in the regional police department, because in the call center the policeman was scornful when we brought in documents from the medical examiner. They said that if he kills, then come.”

In the end, after all efforts, they apologized, they accepted the statement, they called her husband for an explanaBon. This whole story ended with that tyrant man paying for the trip to his battered wife, so she took the claim from the police department. Honestly, I was desperate because he had not miraculously killed her then. At that moment, I thought, I frankly admit, let them sort it out later on,” we find such an anonymous story among the answers in the questionnaire from NV.

The Carpman Triangle [by the name of the American psychotherapist Stephen Carpman], or the dramatic triangle is a psychosocial behavior model according to which there are three characters: the victim, the persecutor, and the savior. The Carpman Triangle is the most common model of relationships between people. Each role has its own characteristics.

For example, a person in a state of sacrifice constantly experiences suffering, is afraid of life, always expects something bad, feels shame and guilt for his own actions. His condition is vulnerable. And if the Victim displaces aggression, but demonstrates vulnerability, the Aggressor, on the contrary, displaces his own vulnerability. He is angry, in a state of tension, constantly trying to control everything. The Savior is a third person, "trying to help." May feel anger towards the offender and pity towards the victim.

Participants in the Carpman triangle can constantly change roles.

And if at first it may seem that the role of the Savior is a noble posi1on, where the mission is to save the Victim, in fact, it is not so, warns Oksana Stepanyuk. Olen, the Savior acts as a “vest for a lament”: the Victim comes to the Savior at a crisis time, asks for help, complains and complains about the situation. But when the tense moment passes, the Victim still returns to his abuser.

If the Savior chooses this role for himself, as a result, he can, on the contrary, be made guilty - be ridiculed or cri1cized for having interfered into someone else's problem, where “he doesn’t understand anything”. One of the respondents lel this story in anonymous form - in response to an open question in the questionnaire from the NV:

“In my youth, my mother intervened between the spouses (the husband beat his wife at home). On the second day, the couple reconciled, and their mother was accused of quarreling and fighting. Therefore, I think that it is better not to get into quarrels and fights between spouses. ”

“I noticed such a thing: if it is a quarrel or a fight on the street, in which adults appear, then people who have witnessed quite often turn to the police. But if parents insult or beat a child, this is rarely reported, ”- says Zoya Melnik. - I think the fact is that in our mentality the child is perceived as the “property” of the parents. Like, if his mother beats him, then he has the right to educate him in this way .”

Such ideas about the upbringing of children are now reflected in modern "folklore": they say: “Just you wait till you give birth to your own child - then you will tell how to properly raise, but for now, be silent”.

Sometimes this leads to sad consequences, says Zoya Melnik. Say, if a person on the street pulls a crying child by the hand, most likely, passers-by will be sure that this is the father dealing with a capricious kid. In fact, it may not be a father at all, but a person who is a stranger to a child.


We asked our readers if they believe that a lot of violence is being shown in the Ukrainian media. 65.6% agreed with this opinion, 18.2% noted that it was difficult for them to answer this question, another 16.2% - that they did not notice this problem.

As for the Internet, 47.9% admit: they did not no1ce that the appearance of social networks somehow contributed to the spread of violent content. 29.5% - the op1on "Difficult to answer." 17.8% replied that there was a lot of violent or cruel content in their feed, even though they were trying to hide it. Another 4.8% said that they are not at all on social networks.

Domestic violence cannot be combated if we work only with the consequences. Prevention is also an important step that will at least reduce the number of such cases in the future and increase public awareness of the problem itself.

89.6% of respondents who have been interviewed by NV think that parents should tell their children about domestic violence. When asked whether educational courses on this topic are necessary in schools, 93.6% of respondents answered “yes”.

This course was launched by the online education studio EdEra: it is free and tells about the prerequisites, signs of domestic violence and how to act in such cases.

One of the most popular problems of modern youth – bullying - is also a form of psychological violence, so this issue is very relevant for Ukrainian schoolchildren.

Depending on what is happening and what is the complexity of the problem, there are several options for further action. Perhaps the victim will need medical assistance - if there is no way to call an ambulance or get to a medical center, some social centers for children, families and youth can also provide such assistance.

A victim may also require the help of a qualified psychologist - such free services are also provided in social centers. There you can also find qualified lawyers who will provide the necessary legal advice.

It often happens that the victim who eventually escaped from the abuser does not have own housing, or staying in such housing is not safe, as this address is known to the abuser. In this case, victims can apply for temporary asylum in social centers or non-governmental organizations. For example, such services are provided by Convictus-Ukraine.

However, the first step should be to call the police - 102, which will record the case and advise what to do next. Under the new law, the police can issue an order to temporarily prohibit the offender from approaching the victim. Regulations may be urgent prohibitive and restrictive. The first oblige the offender to immediately leave the house, to be near the injured person for up to 10 days.

A restrictive order prohibits the offender from not only being in the house where the injured person lives, but also from approaching him at a certain, clearly established distance. The duration of such a requirement is from 1 month to six months, and may be extended for another six months if necessary.

A new option that appeared in Ukraine along with the law on countering domestic violence is typical correc1onal programs for offenders [order of the Ministry of Social Policy of October 1, 2018 No. 1434]. A court can send an offender to such a program. Its duration is from three months to a year. The bo"om line is that the offender should regularly visit a psychologist in one of the social centers. These services are provided free of charge.

Oksana Stepanyuk, who works in such a center in the Desnyanskiy district of the capital, says: in fact, the offender himself can turn to such a center for help. Even before the case goes to trial. But almost no one knows about this - that’s why they don’t go.

“In my opinion, the emergence of the project Police Against DomesBc Violence, or “Polina”, is also a positive innovation. These are police officers who work exclusively on domestic violence. They passed very high-quality, specialized training. I also participated in such trainings - for this, colleagues from Sweden, Denmark and other countries came to Ukraine, ”says Zoya Melnik.

If you encounter domestic violence, you can contact the National Hotline for Prevention of Domestic Violence – 116 123.


Is domestic violence only when other people beat me or something else? Where to go for help?

The original publication is available via the following link:

English translation


Domestic violence - what is it?

Domestic violence is also called family violence. These are violent acts that one person commits in relation to another (or group of persons) at home.

For example, children may suffer, and their own parents may be rapists. Often, domestic or disabled people also suffer from domestic violence. The abusers, in this case, are usually their own relatives, pursuing selfish goals. For example, they require real estate or other property.


What is violence? Is it only about beating?

Not only about it. Violence can be physical, sexual, psychological and economic.

If you have been injured, beaten, traumatized, such as being hit, punched, snatched, tied, etc., this is physical abuse. This can happen at home, especially between partners, and publicly when one partner hurts another, for example, to “dishonour” him or her.

If your partner or another relative in every way control your expenses and income money, checks what exactly you spent money on every month, decides how to manage your personal funds, takes your salary - this is economic violence. It is also sometimes called financial violence.

If there is blackmail, moral pressure, deception, manipulation, verbal abuse, public confrontation, a humiliation in your relationship - all this is called psychological or emotional pressure.

Any violent sexual acts, such as the compulsion to have sex without the prior consent of the person, are called sexual violence. This is not only about "classic" penetrating vaginal sex: violent acts can be considered as coercion or attempt to impose anal, oral sex, demonstration of the genitals, touching them etc.


Can sexual violence happen between a married couple? Is sex a “marital duty” for a couple?

Of course, it can. “Marital debt” is a false attitude. Even if you are officially a husband and wife, you owe nothing to anyone. Sex should occur solely by mutual agreement.

If one of you does not want or cannot have sex for various reasons, he or she should have the right to refuse.


Is a rapist usually a man?

No. Indeed, there are more men among the abusers, but it also happens that women also commit violent acts. For example, a common situation: a mother who beats her children or exerts psychological pressure on them, humiliating them from childhood.


And how many people in Ukraine suffer from domestic violence?

Each year, about 1 million people in Ukraine suffer from domestic violence in their families, reports the studio of online education EdEra. Only 10% of them seeks help from the police, in social centres etc.


Why so few?

In our society, there are many stereotypes about how we “should” live, how “ideal” family should be, stereotypes about what is happy relationship looks like.

Here are some of them: “He hits - it means that he loves”, “it’s better to have a bad man in the family than not to have him at all”, “You need to suffer because of children” [popular misconception that it is better for children to grow up in the “full family” with two parents, even if one of them is abuser ], “the man is the head of the family” [so women should obey him],“ a man is a breadwinner, therefore he is obliged to give his wife all his salary” [when a wife has no work so she is addicted from her husband financially], “children must be beaten as a part of the home “training purposes,” etc.

Very often, these stereotypes are passed from mouth to mouth from older relatives to younger family members. So it turns out that people for several generations can not change the model of their behaviour. Many of them have been in a toxic relationship with relatives all their lives, but do not stop communicating with them, do not leave destructive romantic relationships simply because they consider violence to be the “normal thing”.

Therefore, the victims do not seek help just because they have these opportunities?

Often - that’s why it is. But stereotypes are not the only reason. For example, it often happens that a woman who suffers from violence from her husband or partner simply has nowhere to go. She does not have her own house, she has no relatives or they live very far, she financially dependents on her rapist.


It seems to me that I am a victim. What can I do?

Firstly, you can contact the police by calling 102. Secondly, call the hotline and consult with specialists on your matter.

There are several hotlines:

  • National Hotline for the Prevention of Domestic Violence, Trafficking in Persons and Sex Discrimination: 0800500335 or 116 123, a short number from a mobile phone.
  • National Children's Hotline: 0800500225 or 116 111 for calls from a mobile


And what punishment awaits offender for domestic violence?

On January 11, 2018, Law No. 5294 on Combating Domestic Violence entered into force in Ukraine. The main thing that is provided for by this law is the criminal liability for domestic violence.

So, for committing domestic violence court may sentence abuser for punishment. It can be from 150 to 240 hours of public works or arrest for a period of up to 6 months. It also provides for restriction of freedom for up to five years or imprisonment for up to two years.

In addition, there will be bans on calls and correspondence with the victim, as well as a ban on approaching a certain distance.

Criminal liability also awaits those people who force others to marry with them.


Does it really work?

The first court verdict on the new Ukrainian law on combating domestic violence was passed on April 10, 2019. The man, a resident of the city of Voznesensk, Mykolayiv region, committed violent acts against his 80-year-old mother for several years. He was sentenced to arrest for a month.


Maybe I should forgive the person who hurt me?

Usually, people who have committed violence against relatives at least once do it again. And again.

For example, if your partner beat his previous wife or husband, most likely, you will be beaten too. Not because you are really “guilty” or “deserved it”. Perhaps your partner needs the help of a psychologist or a correctional program in a social centre.

Stories of People Who Have Experienced Domestic Violence or Committed It

Novoye Vremya Strany

September 20, 2019

The original publication is available via the following link:
i-domashnee-nasilie-ili-sami-sovershali-ego-50037862.html (Ukrainian language)

English translation

93% of respondents think that Ukraine really has such a problem as domestic violence. Such preliminary data is demonstrated by an anonymous online survey, which NV launched together with online education studio EdEra. On the moment of this publication, more than 1900 people filled the survey.

10.2% of respondents admitted that they had once themselves physically abused their loved ones but later realized that they acted badly. 1.8% said they committed such acts, but did not consider it as violence.

In general, an online survey devoted to various types of domestic violence in Ukraine, such as physical, psychological, sexual and economic.

The last question is optional and provides a detailed answer. We asked our readers to share their own anonymous stories about experienced domestic violence. Now about three hundred respondents have gathered such stories. Respondents talk about how they experienced physical violence from their parents, sexual abuse from older relatives in childhood and share stories about how and why they themselves resorted to committing violence.

NV reporter Oleksandra Horchynska selected 15 stories about various aspects of violence and publishes it here.


As a child, I came across domestic violence. In particular, I was a victim of psychological pressure from my father. In public, he played the role of an ideal husband and father. But at the same time, he could publicly humiliate, point out the "drawbacks" of appearance, for example, overweight at mom, or her behaviour. At home, he poured all the accumulated aggression and anger: told that there is no orderliness in our apartment, the things are not on their places, everything is not going the right way, and we, the children, are lazy, do nothing, the lopsided ones - we can’t do anything. He called me, his daughter, "schmuck." He showed disrespect for the needs of the family, devalued our interests, personal qualities. It seemed to him that family was a duty for him because every man who respects himself “should” have a wife and children. This was expected of him by his parents, it was as it should be.

He also aggressively showed emotions, anger when I or my brother did not meet his expectations. He did not want to spend time with his children - I constantly felt that I was a burden on him. He showed neither kindness nor tenderness. When we were smaller, I could be punished, hit with a leather belt. He never praised our achievements, despised them, compared others to us. With great reluctance, he supported our education. Usually, but not always, he cried if we did not understand something.

In general, my association with childhood and adolescence is screaming, humiliation, discontent from the father, the desire to hide and become invisible. And the mother who wanted to protect us, who cried so that no one saw, and drank medications for her heart.

The situation has emotionally changed in my 30 years. My brother and I moved to another apartment. I started doing psychotherapy. The first I told my father that I love him. Taught to hug, kiss him. I heard from him that he loves me. And my brother too. His attitude also changed, it became much warmer. If earlier he was jealous when it was necessary to spend money on a family, now he offers help with repairs in the apartment. Or pay a taxi if I get home late. The achievements of us children are treated with respect and admiration.


A 1,5 months ago, my aunt lost her son. When they called her from the hospital and informed her that his heart stopped, my aunt began to cry. And her husband hit her on the head with h the words: "Shut up, you idiot! The neighbours will hear." Well, now every time an aunt begins to cry from grief, her husband yells at her. For him, silence in his apartment is more important than the feelings of his own wife. And besides, he constantly controlled her, forbade her to go to work because of jealousy, cursed if she went to her friends or sisters, constantly shouted and rudely treated her.

He also molested me when I was still a teenager, but I did not dare to tell about this anyone.


I beat and humiliated my own children. First two. The realization of how terrible things I did came gradually. For several years, my sister lived with us with her little son. I watched them daily and how it turns out that you can build relationships with a child without offences and superficial manifestations; on mutual respect. I watched how to resolve conflict situations without negativity, how to respond to children's moods. This is a lengthy process. I did not know how to respect my children. 20 years have passed. Children say that they have forgiven me a long time ago, but this does not reassure me. Every mention brings pain. I think if someone could stop me decisively then, perhaps I would come to my senses a little earlier. Now I can’t watch without tears how on the street or in a public place, the mother screams at her child or hits it. I interfere every time. Not sure if this will help. But I can’t do anything.


I have a wonderful family. Wonderful parents who always lived peacefully and calmly. When I was 18, I met a guy. He was 27 and this was my first serious relationship.

At first, everything was just fine, but over time, I began to realize that I could not buy my clothes without first sending a photo to him and not waiting for approval. The clothes that I bought alone, I could wear as if I could, but each time I had to listen a lot. My desire to go to graduate school caused him hysteria because he believed that I should clean home and cook instead of education. Naturally, no one asked me. His mother helped me to fight for my opportunity to study. Also, we always invited his friends at home, but for my friends, it was forbidden to enter our house. I understood that it wasn’t normal to live like that, but I thought that the family of my parents is an ideal, which means that not everyone is so lucky. Plus - he doesn’t beat me, so it’s not so bad.

I did not have money, although he had his own business. The man changed as soon as the door to our house was closed. Once he got drunk a lot and chairs and dishes flew into me. For half a night I sat on the stairs to the second floor, talking with my mother, who lived 300 km from me, so that at least someone could call the police if they killed me there. In the morning, he didn’t even apologize, said something like:

“Huh, I’ve been drunk a bit!”

Almost a year later, I learned that violence can be not only physical. Thanks to the information from the Center for Integration and Development, I realized why I felt so bad with an absolutely perfect picture from the outside. Now I have a guy with whom we have been together for three years. I have many friends, they give me the opportunity to develop, I wear what I want. And only now I realized that my parents just have normal healthy relationships.


I am 24, my husband is 25, our child is 2.6 years old. Even before the wedding, five years ago, my husband and I fought. Sometimes not seriously, and sometimes with breaking windows in the house. Two years ago, my husband, being drunk, began to provoke me into a scandal - he spat in my face. I answered in the same way and we started a serious fight. For two weeks I was lying with a concussion, my face was not visible. Then I went to the psychologist. Now my husband and I are still together. Ask why? I will not be able to answer.

After that, he never raised his hands on me, but I still can’t forgive him totally. But the paradox is that I consider part of myself to blame, if I had not spat in the answer, this would not have happened. I am constantly looking for excuses for him.


Physical, psychological, and financial violence from my parents was applied to me. I believe that this is why I had low self-esteem, problems with socialization. This led to suicide attempts and treatment in a psycho-neurological clinic. Mother still justifies domestic violence and says that every family lives that way. Originally I am from the Donetsk region, now this part of Ukraine is not controlled by the Ukrainian government.


I had a situation when a partner in affect pushed our three-year-old child through a door jamb. The child fell, scared, began to cry badly. I ran to the child, but my partner stopped me, grabbed the child and began to run around the apartment with him, shouting that we had brought him. The child cried a lot, I was very scared - I did not understand, the child was crying because of pain or because of fear.

I had to pull myself together, very affectionately contact my partner so that he would allow me to examine the baby. Fortunately, there were bruises. I reassured the child, and then the partner, without asking my consent, took the child for a walk - it was summer, there was no need to dress very much.

When he left, I realized that my hands were trembling. I called my friend and asked what to do. She gave the anti-violence hotline phone number. I did not know what was happening with my child and was afraid to call my partner so as not to cause an outbreak of aggression on his part. I called the service, and the woman at the other end of the line began to ask why he was angry. How long time ago have we had sex, have I asked him to buy something expensive before that, have I offended him, or is he doing well at work. At first, I automatically answered questions, but then I began to recover and ask what I should do. I was advised to calm down, think about my behaviour and meet him as affectionately as possible.

I did not receive help from social service. I was able to break out of that circle of violence only because my friends helped me. Because at first my husband shouted at me and limited me in money. He began to scream at the child, and then this situation already happened. And only then I realized the horror I was living in.


When I was little, my mother often beat me with her hands, with a belt. There were even cases when she seemed to want to strangle me. And I always heard from her: "I will kill you. Why would I give birth to you, it would be better to kill you at birth. You grow up nobody." My father broke up with her when I was 3, and my brother was a year and a half. It was very difficult for her. She worked at several jobs. At the weekend she has been visited the market and tried to sell our cloth from which we had already grown. And now I understand that then it was difficult for her both psychologically and physically. But, of course, this does not justify her. Because of her action, I began to run away from home, from the age of 15. Often I came to my father and asked to live with him. I could no longer live with my mother.

And so went on, until I completely became independent, until I began to earn and live separately. I never shared my emotions with my mother about the events that happen in my life. And even now, when I already have two children of my own, mom is not the first person for me whom I can trust.


My former partner committed physical, psychological, and sexual violence against me. At first, he seemed kind and patient. Then he became very jealous. Constantly suspected of something.

Later, for the first time, he lifted me up in the arm when I later returned from friends. Before that, he took me to them by his own but refused to go with me. He choked and beat me because "I made him wait all night, and he was worried." Confusion and fear drove me into a stupor, and external circumstances were such that I could not get away from him.

After that, he swore and cried that this would not happen again. But this happened several more times. Twice I was in huge bruises and scratches. Even on the face. I had to hide and disguise them. He closed the doors and windows, took my keys and phone so that I could not run away. And then he beat. Beat hard. Even kicking.

The last time he beat me so hard that there were black bruises all over my body. And several times he hit the head, which then was terribly sick. I screamed as loudly as I could, called the police, or at least someone. But no one reacted.

He tried to strangle and blocked my nose and mouth. I almost lost my own when he apparently realized what he could do, and let go. No longer screaming. Because there was no one to expect help from. The neighbours did not react, although it was a sunny day, there were many people walking on the street. Then he let me go. A few hours later he brought towels dipped in cold water. Applied them to my head and hands, which I could not move.

We broke up, I miraculously found the strength to turn to my friends for help, and they forcibly evicted him from the house. Two months have passed. For the past three weeks, I have been having nightmares every night in which the former mocks me and raises his hand again. I can’t sleep normally, but I know that I will never allow myself to be treated like that again.

As a child, I witnessed that my father regularly beat his mother. And I always tried to intervene. She was sure that this would never happen to me, but for some reason she allowed it. Something broke in me then. I didn’t tell anyone, because I’m ashamed.


I’m not sure that this is violence, but the ex-girlfriend humiliated me in front of my friends when I was absent, demanded sex and deceived me about my relationship with others. I don’t know what of her stories really happened and what didn’t exactly. Fortunately, all this in the past now. When it was unbearable - I was able to overpower myself and leave her. But in the future, this negatively affects the current relationship, I regularly return to this in my thoughts.


For 20 years I lived in a family with an alcoholic father, and my mother, who wanted to fix it, but she failed. All my childhood passed on the background of constant scandals of parents and contemplation every night on a drunken father. My sister and I constantly cried and suffered, asked mom to leave her father, move to live separately. My mother then said that she would not pull to live separately, because we never had enough money, she was afraid of condemnation from relatives, wanted to save the family most of all.

Confusion, low self-esteem, problems with socialization, distrust of people - all this as a result, still does not allow me to leave a full life. Now I am 28 years old, it is difficult for me to communicate with people. I do not work, because I am afraid of socialization.


I was subjected to sexual and physical abuse when I was from 6 to 12 years old. At 12, I talked about this, but none of the family contacted the police. A paedophile is still a member of our family.


My partner was late for a meeting with me for three hours. I felt angry about this. I was not aware of the reasons for his being late. When he came home, he said that it was normal for him. And threw some sarcastic phrases addressed to me. It hurt me, I started to call him different offensive words, also said that if I had a knife, I would hit him and attacked him.


When I was 6, my mom has started a relationship with a new husband. A few months later, he beat me for the first time. I got angry that I asked all the time to switch the television on football to cartoons and told him: “I'm not afraid” in response to him: “Now you will.” After the next: “I'm not afraid,” he blew himself up from the sofa, caught up with me in the room and hit his head against the wall. After that, he beat me and my mother more than once.

He left when I was 16. For ten years I was afraid to live in my own apartment. Returning from school, he always expected a new quarrel at home. I was always afraid. That first act of violence fell out of my memory until the age of 19. But this fear has changed me a lot.

I can’t say, “I’m not afraid” if I feel threatened. My body just paralyzes, and any words get stuck in my throat. Because of this, I had problems at school - I could never answer the bullying that was arranged for me. Now, at age 20, I am just beginning to overcome this fear of saying: "I'm not afraid," when necessary.


This is not a personal story of mine, but as a child I witnessed it. I did not yet understand that this is domestic violence in the family in relation to an elderly person.

The story is about my grandmother’s friend, also a good friend of mine. Her daughter took that woman from the village to live together in the city. A woman sold her house to help her daughter and son-in-law buy a cooperative apartment. She was very active, always went outside in the afternoon and evening, loved to sit with other elderly people on a bench. She looked after her grandchildren and other children told them fairy tales.

But after a while, I noticed that I did not see this woman on the street. My grandmother also confirmed that she had not seen her friend for a long time either.

When we approached the porch where the woman lived, saw her standing at the window and crying, noticed that she was very thin. She did not go out for a very long time, and after a while, she was found on the asphalt under the house. That woman jumped out of the window and killed herself. I saw her body. There were a lot of police and people from her house. Then the neighbours said that her relatives had starved the woman. I will never forget this story. I was eight then.

On violence and power in Ukrainian culture

The original publication is available via the following link: krainskoy-kulture-50042312.html

English translation

Every fourth Ukrainian woman aged 15–49 years has suffered from sexual or physical violence at least once in her life. Gender-based violence - any dangerous acts committed against the will of a person and based on socially defined gender differences between women and men. In Ukraine, women suffer from gender-based violence much more often than men, according to UN Women.

Why did this happen? The patriarchal family is one where all power and the right to rule the family are also concentrated in the hands of an older man. This type of relationship is typical for different peoples and cultures. Including Ukraine.

The concentration of power, economic and material resources in the hands of men led and leads to the fact that society justifies violence, physical abuse of women. This is linked with power and dominance.

Ukrainian proverbs and sayings often describe the relationship between a man and a woman, such as where a wife, and children, too, need to be beaten for educational purposes. Female adultery was tougher than male adultery: this questioned the issue of paternity if children were born. Often adultery happened because many marriages were forced - parents had to have their daughter married as soon as possible. A divorce was not a common thing.

Often the cause of quarrels and conflicts in the family was alcoholism. Cases when a woman beat a man were an exception. Women were often compared with the devil, and sometimes they even believed that the woman was worse than the devil.

The issue of the relationship between the daughter-in-law and the mother-in-law is quite popular in folklore. One of the plots: the mother-in-law sends her son on a long journey, most often to the army, and gives her daughter-in-law a super-lot of complicated work. Performing this work, the daughter-in-law is exhausted and turns into a tree. Literally, this curse sounds: “So that you become wooden!”

Another plot of folk songs is a mockery of a young girl whom strangers kidnap to marry her. The girl is tied to a pine tree with her own hair and set on fire. Despite the horrific plot, in Ukraine today this song is still considered a wedding.

In Soviet times, power was concentrated mainly in the hands of men and was associated with power, and power was manifested in cruel, violent actions, restrictions and control. That was, for example, Joseph Stalin, before him - Adolf Hitler. A modern example of a “dictator-macho” is Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko. Macho can also be called

Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin, but they play these roles in different ways. A female example of a “strong hand” is Angela Merkel. Despite the rigidity of the image, such leaders all attract attention.

“Where there is power - no mind is needed” is one of the popular Soviet stereotypes. With this phrase, society seemed to be divided into two categories: some are strong, while others are smart. Another stereotype: “Men do not cry.”

Most of the love songs on the post-Soviet stage are about the sufferings associated with love. Like, you must fight for love, love must be "won", "suffered", "achieved." To love is necessarily painful. So it is with television content. Plots of soap opers: a woman is a victim of violence and bullying, but suffers "in the name of love."

TV also broadcasts such a model of relations: the wife constantly scolds her husband for something, for example, because he did not bring her his salary, refused to go to his unloved mother-in-law, looked at other girls on the street. “Relax” for a husband looks like lying on a sofa with a beer and a TV remote control and lying down while his wife brings him dinner.

These stories are often found in comedy shows, stand-up shows and comedy series in Ukraine.

All this historical and cultural layer directly affects the formation of the image of the modern Ukrainian family. Stereotypes imply that love is suffering, marriage cannot exist without conflict, and the role of a woman is to serve a man who can hit her when she, in his opinion, fails. As a result, violence is often justified by society as something “normal”.