A woman, a dog and a walnut tree, the harder you beat them, the better they be.
“I was unconscious for three days once after he banged my head against the toilet.”
I was born in Estonia, but my mother is Russian, and when my father died in a road accident we moved to St Petersburg. I was a qualified electronics engineer, and I’d just started working when we met on the internet. I was 20, and he was 26 and a lawyer. He courted me intensively and after three months I was pregnant. He started checking up on who I was seeing and where I was going, and criticising the way I ran the home even before the baby was born. I knew it wasn’t normal … but I so wanted a happy family, and I was pregnant and afraid of being abandoned.
When our baby was one month and one day old, he came home in a bad mood and struck me in the face. The blood was pouring from my nose all over the baby I was holding in my arms. So I moved to my mother’s, but he said it had happened because he had problems at work, and I agreed to go back.
When I got pregnant again, I wasn’t sure what to do, but after I’d seen the ultra-sound scan I didn’t want to have an abortion. The violence continued. He said if only I could be a better wife, he’d be nice to me.
He said if only I could be a better wife, he’d be nice to me.
I was unconscious for three days once after he banged my head against the toilet. He carried the baby to my breast to be fed. When I looked in the mirror afterwards I saw the marks of his fingers on my throat.
He told everyone else that I’d slipped and banged my head and that our son had kicked me in the face, and that was why I had a bruise on my cheek. My mother believed him. Everyone believed him. I didn’t say anything.
He said I could leave him, but he’d keep the children and send them to his relatives in Siberia. I wouldn’t stand a chance of getting them back if I went to court there. I’d already spoken to his relatives, but they said I had to accept the situation.
Then our oldest child began to see and understand what was going on. And that was why I told my sister, and she told me about the Crisis Center for Women.
He was fined 5,000 rubles (162 USD), but that was just for the last beating, which gave me a black eye. Now I have a problem with my sight in that eye. The custody dispute hasn’t been settled, that’s the worst thing. I don’t know what I’ll do if he takes the children to Siberia!
Maternal deaths: 34 deaths per l00,000 births (2008)
Number of children/woman: 1.42
Abortion legislation: Right to abortion
Law against rape within marriage: No
Violence against women in close relationships: Violence in the home is the cause of two thirds of all murders in Russia. It is estimated that 34,000 women are subjected to violence in the home each year. 60-70 per cent of these victims do not report the abuse, mainly because previous attempts to report it have failed.