Last Updated 02 Aug 2020

Domestic Violence in Russia

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Why is domestic abuse so widespread in Russia – and are its causes culturally specific? Slide 1 Domestic violence is one of the main causes of women's suffering and even death. Unfortunately, for a variety of reasons, this topic has often been passed over in silence all over the world. However, in the past 10 years, things have changed: women have begun to make their voices heard, and have finally started seeking help. But is this true for women in Russia?

Slide 2 First we need to define what constitutes domestic violence. The Department of Health defines domestic violence as “a continuum of behavior ranging from verbal abuse, physical, sexual assault, to rape, and even homicide. " This definition includes such violence as violence in dating, animal abuse, child abuse, violence in same-sex families, violence between intimate partners, as well as violence between neighbors and friends. This paper focuses on domestic violence between intimate partners, both married and unmarried.

Slide 3According to the Ukrainian TV channel "Inter,” “every third woman in the world at least once in her life has been physically abused. ” In the Ukraine, as well as in Russia, this figure is much higher; every second woman at least once becomes the victim of domestic violence. For example, according to the Acting Head of the Department of Public Order of Russia, General-Lieutenant Michael Artamoshkina, every fourth family in Russia experiences some type of domestic violence and two-thirds of homicides are due to family and domestic reasons.

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To give a sense of the scale and severity of the disaster, which in Russia is simply called "family problems,” about 14 thousand women die at the hands of their husbands or other relatives and 40 percent of all serious violent crimes annually are committed within families. Just to compare the scale, it should be noted that within 10 years of war between the Soviet Union and Afghanistan, 14 thousand people were killed. The incidents of domestic violence in Russian families are increasing year after year.

In addition to this, we should take in consideration all the children that are witnessing domestic violence in their families who experience severe trauma, which they may then transfer to their future families. As a result, every year 50 thousand children leave their homes and 2 thousand children commit suicide. Slide 4 This reminds me of the popular English phrase, "My home - my castle,” which is translated to Russian as “??? ??? – ??? ????????,” meaning the security, reliability, and peace of mind hat are being obtained not just through the walls of the house but mostly through family, mainly the spouse. At the same time there is a Russian saying: “???? – ?????? ?????,” which means, “Beating is a sign of loving,” which possibly serves as another reinforcer or an excuse for domestic violence in Russia. Slide 5 Video Slide 6 Domestic violence doesn’t necessarily cause physical damage.

There are several types of domestic violence between two intimate partners: * emotional abuse, such as humiliation, which damages self-esteem, verbal abuse, rudeness, instilling the idea that a woman plays the role of a bad wife and mother; * economic violence where the partner doesn’t allow the woman to work, forcing her to ask for money, and, therefore, lowering her self-esteem; * sexual abuse, which is forcing the partner to have a physical relationship; * physical violence, which is the most common and includes beating, slapping, using weapons, etc. * threats such as threats to take the children or commit suicide; * bullying, which can be presented in the forms of intimidation through gestures, actions, destroying household items; * manipulation of children such as instilling a sense of guilt in front of children, using children to manipulate; and finally * isolation which is a continuous monitoring of what a woman does, whom she can be friends with, with whom she associates and communicates and prohibition of communication with people that are close to her.

What are the causes of such violence by men, and why don’t women fight for their right for a peaceful and happy life? The first problem is the lack of an adequate system to deal with this problem in Russia. Since the legislation has not embraced a definition of domestic violence as a crime, men feel a sense of impunity. The second reason is that this behavior is inherent in every person as a cause of reproducible patterns. The ones, who witnessed their father beat their mother during their childhood, have a higher probability of becoming a family tyrant.

Some other problems that are common causes of violence in Russia are male alcoholism, low material security, and unemployment among men. But violence occurs not only in the families of alcoholics, but also in the families of professors, and managers. A couple of years ago in Russia, this problem was not discussed at all; the topic was practically banned. On the basis of information provided by the above-mentioned channel, "most of women find it to be a taboo topic. And do not talk about their problems for fear of a repetition and confidence in the impunity of the offender.   Slide 7In Russia, as well as in Ukraine, domestic violence is considered to be “hooliganism,” and for the most severe abuser the punishment is confinement for a period of up to 360 hours, which equals to the period of two weeks, after which the offender gets released back into the family. It is not surprising that women do not even turn to the police to report allegations of domestic violence since imprisonment for a period of two weeks would only worsen an already complicated relationship. There is one more feature, the victim is usually very ashamed to admit that she has been beaten, so she remains silent for years.

In addition, many husbands beat their partners in such a way that no one can see scars and bruises. Therefore most of the physical trauma is being caused to the heads of the victims, which ends with more fetal outcomes. The reasons why the victims do not leave their spouses are the same all over the world, starting from banal economic barriers, especially when they have children. There are not enough crisis centers and shelters for victims of domestic violence in Russia. There are about 18 state and 40 public shelters for women, there are over 500 of them in Great Britain.

In addition, social services do not have the authority to help women with children. Sociologists say that domestic violence is a consequence of the treatment of women as the second grade citizens. Surprisingly, the victim often agrees with the offender. For example, if she was slapped for not cooking well enough, then she must really not know how to cook. The longer victims stay with the offender, the lower their self-esteem becomes. They start “putting” themselves into their husband’s or lover’s, developing Stockholm Syndrome.

Therefore, one of the tasks of the psychologist in crisis centers is to explain to the victim that she is not guilty, no matter how poorly she cleaned the apartment or how short her skirt was. The victims must first understand that there can be no reasons to be physically abused, and that it is against the law. But the law allows a lot of other things, like sexual coercion, since in Russia there is no concept of "marital rape,” as well as isolation and control, not allowing to dress a certain way, and preventing access to education.

Hopefully, at least on paper, the situation will change with the passage of the “Prevention of Domestic Violence Law,” so the government won’t wait until people die before they do something about this worldwide problem. However, the development of this law has begun in 1994, but it was long ignored. At the same time, in the early ‘90s legislatives in many other countries advanced amendments, which were approved and worked very well in preventing fetal outcomes of domestic violence.

For example, in Israel as well as American courts, a restraining order is given to victims prohibiting the offender to approach the victim or her resistance. The basis for such a restraining order is not just “actual acts of violence" but also threats, insults, and scandals. We should consider some real-life examples of domestic violence, and the extent to which it can reach. One of the most sensational cases of domestic violence, which shocked the whole world, was the matter of Bibi Aisha. Slide 8 This girl’s parents made her to marry militant Taliban at the age of 14, who was severely abusive.

Having lived four years through endless humiliations, in 2009 Bibi decided to escape, but her father returned her to her in-laws and as punishment, her husband took her to the mountains, cut off her ears and nose and left her there to die. The girl was only 18 years old. Fortunately, she was lucky, and was saved by American doctors, who a year later were able to make a new nose for her. The history of Bibi Aisha affected the whole world, but unfortunately it is far from unique. One day in 2010 a Russian girl named Tatyana Polskaya was returning from work.

Approaching the entrance of her building, she saw a young man standing by the entrance with a bottle in his hand. He was not alone; Tatyana said that she noticed someone observing not far from the entrance. When she turned to the young man, he splashed in her face something of the bottle. She ran to a snowdrift and began to wash her face with the snow. As it turned out later, the bottle was full of sulfuric acid. The investigation of her case has hit a dead end; there are no suspects or defendants. Tanya has already had eight operations, but her vision hasn’t been restored.

The same year Oksana Serdyuk, who has recently broken up with her former lover, was going home with a new partner. They accidentally met her former partner at the park and talked. He asked permission to escort them to the porch and when they got there, he hit Oksana with a knife directly in her stomach. Her boyfriend rushed to defend his girlfriend, but was stabbed in the lung. Then the former partner calmly walked over to Oksana, raised her head by pulling her hair and began to slash her neck. A passing car, which flashed its headlights, saved them and the attacker fled.

As it turned out later in the hospital Oksana was saved by a miracle, since the stabbing took place at 2 mm from her carotid artery. According to Oksana, her ex-boyfriend was insanely jealous, and when she tried to leave, he threatened her by telling that he would commit a suicide. She could not even think that this man could bring harm to others. He was sentenced to 12 years. Perhaps, this is one in thousands of cases when an offender of domestic violence actually received a substantial sentence. Why is there such a difference between the statistics and actual numbers of domestic violence in Russia?

The main problem in the procedure of registering domestic violence is in law enforcement, since this kind of violence doesn’t have a separate category in the constitution of the Russian Federation. As long as the legislation does not adopt a definition of domestic violence, the situation will not change. Also the low number of women actually going to the police should be noted, since many women believe that the police won’t be able to help them, and therefore they rarely file a petition. It is important that the Criminal Code and Administrative Code include the concept of domestic violence.

Domestic abuse must incur liability not only in severe cases, such as personal injury and murder, but also in the "mild" forms of violence, like threats and emotional damage. Also, it is important to transfer domestic violence from the sphere of private charges to the sphere of public accusations, so that it is impossible to take back an application, since while the process is going on – a lot of men convince their women to take back the application, promising them that things will change, and once the application is taken back – the case is dropped, and the cycle of abuse continues.

If the case were kept open, the offender would get at least some sort of punishment. And it is definitely necessary to add protection orders; but when this was discussed in the legislature, unfortunately this immediately raised the question of a possible violation of men’s rights. Slide 9 However, it is true that victims of violence are not only women but also men. Unfortunately, there is no exact statistics of the real number of victims. Men as well as women have their own reasons not to report domestic violence. Women are often leaders in their families, but, as psychologists report, are rarely tyrants.

According to psychotherapist Alexander Polev, "If a wife and mother become tyrants - it's not normal. ” “As a rule, these women are from dysfunctional families, which copy their parents. Tyrants can be oppressed mothers and children - they repeat the situation in exactly same way. " Victims of woman rarely seek psychological help, despite the frequency of the beatings. Experts say that in Russia, of the total number of reported cases of domestic violence - 5% are feature male victims. And this is just the tip of the iceberg of victims of female aggression.

For men it is really difficult to accept that they have been beaten by a female: it is considered to be shameful and men often prefer to deal with their trauma alone. But even taking into account the psychological barriers to the recognition by men that they have been domestically violated, domestic violence hotlines a few times still receive calls from men suffering violence in their homes. Psychologists are convinced that for men, fallen under the heel of a strong woman, there is only one solution - a divorce. Separation with their wife-tyrant doesn’t always bring satisfaction and resolution to all their problems.

Without psychological help and adaptation, a man who has been with a women-tyrant tends to fall for women of the same type. Slide 10 Domestic violence is a worldwide problem, but unfortunately, in Russia, in comparison with other big countries, the government hasn’t yet found a way to deal with this problem effectively. The problem is often ignored, and its scale is underestimated. But personal, not just governmental action is needed: no one deserves to be abused, and victims of domestic violence -must seek immediate help, break their silence, protect themselves as well as their children, and serve as an example to others.

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