Wedding day is probably one of the brightest moments in person's life. Total harmony and understanding - what else does one need for happiness? Unfortunately, tender relations get often replaced with ill-fated routine - "beating means love" or "fearing means respect".

Beating, reproaches, limitations are by far not the last barrier on the way to family happiness. As practice shows, not only women, but men as well, suffer from similar attitude. As ForUm learned from the Ministry for social policy of Ukraine, for the nine months of this year the department for family and children has received 84989 reports on domestic violence - 89.7% from women and 9.7% from men.

ForUm has decided to find out the origin of the problem and ways to eliminate it. Having had an interview with psychologist Svitlana Bazherina, former director of the psychological center of practical and social work, we found out that...

- Can the problem of domestic violence be considered as a social disease of modern times?

- Domestic violence has been a social disease for many years. We cannot say it has suddenly appeared because of some political changes, for example. I would say similar social diseases are closely connected to problems in the society. Drinking or constantly working parents do not have time to educate their children, thus anybody, including some stranger in the street can become a behavior sample, and not the good one.

Moreover, the problem of domestic violence is especially burning, as there is no immediate pill against it. There are no measures or actions, which would miraculously change everything for the better. Behavior model is formed basing on the behavior in the family. Thus, children seeing quarrels and beating in the family come to understanding that aggression and force make you a leader. Consequently, when they grow up they will apply the same methods in their own families.

-What are the most common types of domestic violence in modern families?

- There are all kinds of violence: physical, psychological (moral), sexual and economic. The matter is that we may undergo moral violence not knowing it. Violence includes not only beating, but humiliation, isolation, intimidation... 

Nowadays there is widespread type of economic violence, when wife financially depends on husband and children on parents. Such cases are not rare even in rich families. During a consultation, one young man told me: She goes on vacation five times per year. What else does she need?" Well, she needs him to pay more attention and demonstrate his love, not to buy off with expensive things and then reproach her for this. Not working women also often suffer from similar type of economic violence. They often hear: "It does not matter how much money I give you, it is never enough." Sometimes husbands do not give money even for stockings, saying: "We already bought you stockings. Why do you always break them?" Such attitude humiliates a woman, and helplessness and dependence hurt her.

- Does such unfortunate atmosphere in the family affect the children?  Can it influence the relations between children and parents?

- I can give you one example. We often hear that older people complain their children have abandoned them, do not visit them often. "We devoted our lives to them, and they are so ungrateful," they say. As a psychologists I can tell you such statements are doubtful. As a rule, such parents used to punish children a lot with either physical or psychological violence. Children do not forgive this, and as a result prefer to avoid personal contacts in the future. Children may continue supporting their parents financially, but they will not come for holidays. And this is the fault of parents. 

Coming back to the origin of violence, I want to give you another example. A banal situation: daddy hurts mommy and children come to the defense of the mother, telling her the father is bad. After some time the mother calms the children down, wiping tears.  And what does she tell them? She tells them daddy is good, just today he had a bad day, but in general he loves them. Thus, children draw conclusions that similar behavior is ok and they copy this model in the future.

No violence can solve a problem. Problems must be talked out, especially with children. Any conflict should be solved by means of words, not arms. Adults must follow this rule and must teach their children to follow it either.

- So, a husband-tyrant, is it an echo from the past or consequences of wife's wrong behavior?
- Why only husband-tyrants? There can be a wife-tyrant...

Anyway, this problem comes from people's way of understand how to live, solve problems and make their place in the world. Inability to make decisions, inability to talk out problems usually lead to negative consequences...

- You said men also could become victims of domestic violence. Have you had male patients?

- There have been cases, but again we talking not about beating, but moral pressure, when a wife offends husband with disobedience, protests, constant reproaches. I can tell you that anybody can become the victim of psychological violence, including children and older people.

- They say both parties should be blamed for a quarrel...

- I agree. But there is a difference between one-time burst, when one person has been driven to despair by provocations, and continuous quarrels, when there is premeditation of psychological pressure on the family.

Rudeness, beating, insults and humiliation are absolutely unjustified in doing. For some people such behavior is a norm, always has been, you just did not see it before because you did not know the person well. However, people for who such behavior is norm just want to assert themselves at the expense of others, mostly weaker members, like women or children, or subordinates. Very often violent people manipulate others with promises, lies and excuses. But even in their excuses there is a trace of pressure, like "If you had not gone there I would have never got angry".

- Can aggressors be rectified? 

- Hard to say. It's difficult for a women to work out a defense strategy alone. Probably, she needs a good psychologist to survive the aggression. Moreover, for people who believe violence is a norm it is difficult to prove otherwise. Aggression cannot be cured with a pill. Even if a person wants to change, this is not a one-day job. Remember we are talking about people who do want to change, but in my practice I've never met a violent person who wanted to change himself. They all prefer to change others.

Nevertheless, if the couple wants to save their relations, they need to sit down and talk, and not only about mutual grudges. It is important to talk about what both of them do wrong. We often hear "he is a bastard" or "she is a bitch", but it is rare when some looks deep inside himself. It is difficult to overcome this barrier, but they should try anyway.

- Why do some women avoid speaking about the problem and continue tolerating violence?

- It depends on a person. If a woman was brought up in a family, where the mother suffered beating, most probably she would tolerate beating in her own family. She is used to it, thus it is a norm for her.

As a rule, women suffering from domestic violence are somehow dependent on their husbands - they do not have a job, not place to go, no money to maintain children. Thus, such women agree to stay with their husbands and continue suffering. Low self-esteem can also be a reason.

A woman who does not want to live like this will keep fighting or will divorce. As a psychologist, I can tell that violence should not be tolerated. Women must remember that their lives and health, as well as lives and health of their children, are more important.

- Is there legal protection for victims of domestic violence in Ukraine?

- If a victim reports the crime to the police, the case will be solved in court. But not all women report their violent husbands or bosses. 

I had a patient, who always complained about her violent husband, but refused to report him to the police. It lasted until he stabbed her with scissors. He went to prison after this case. Thanks God there is punishment for violence and hooliganism in our country. 

If a victim of domestic violence cannot make decision alone, she or he must ask a psychologist for help. A psychologist can help to work out a defense strategy, to ease the stress and to understand and explain special features of the offender.

- What can you recommend married couples?

- If you have certain problems in your family, sit down and talk about it. Learn to speak and to listen.
Moreover, I want to appeal to young people who just plan to create a family. Love and understand are abstract notions. Before living together both of you should find out what these notions mean for each of you. Speak about what is important for your future family and what are traditions and cultural values in your parental families. For some people understanding means support, for others - absolute obedience. Thus, you should learn to hear each other.

Besides, do not be afraid to ask for help, be it friends, specialists or relevant services.

Tetyana Matsur


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