Domestic violence, how to deal with it and where to turn for help

Domestic violence is a serious problem for many families, and not all victims know how to find a solution. A dependent position on a tyrant, indecision and other aspects can lead to disastrous situations. So, how do you understand that there are preconditions for violence in the family, and what ways are there to combat it? We will consider all these questions in detail in the article below.

What is domestic violence

So what is domestic violence? The definition is quite simple:

Domestic violence

- these are actions of a physical, psychological, sexual or economic nature that occur between current or former spouses. It can also occur between people who are related.

In addition, domestic violence can be defined as regularly repeated acts of physical or any other force. Many people have to live in families with similar relationships, and in them, instead of trust, a sense of security, love, partnership, cruelty, anxiety, and fear take the leading role.

When it comes to domestic violence, the imagination often paints terrible pictures: a husband beats his wife or mother, abuses children, and so on. The first thing that appears is a man who is an alcoholic, a gambling addict, an insane jealous person, an overly religious husband. Real life doesn't always involve these scenarios. The instigator of domestic violence is often a woman (mother, wife, sister, etc.) and a child.


The United Nations defines violence against women as “any act of violence based on gender that causes or is likely to cause physical, sexual or psychological harm or suffering to women, including threats of such acts, coercion or arbitrary deprivation of liberty, whether in public or in personal life" (1).
Intimate partner violence is behavior by a current or former intimate partner that causes physical, sexual, or psychological harm, including physical aggression, sexual coercion, psychological abuse, and various forms of controlling behavior.

Sexual assault is “any sexual act, attempted sexual act, or other act that targets a person’s sexuality using coercion, committed by anyone, regardless of their relationship with the victim, in any location. It includes rape, defined as forced or otherwise forced penetration of the vulva or anus using the penis, other body part or object, attempted rape, involuntary sexual touching or other non-contact forms.”

  • State of the World Report on Violence Prevention 2014

Who suffers and what is the cause of domestic violence?

The main misconception, which carries unsafe consequences, is that the cause of violence lies in the actions of the injured partner, who allegedly “provoked” the rapist. This leads to the question: “Why?”, which subconsciously justifies the rapist. It is important to remember that there is no behavioral reason for systematically resorting to violence. The only reason lies only in the rapist's penchant for sadism.

Domestic violence against women

Women most often suffer from domestic violence. What is the reason? In a partner who often has the qualities of a tyrant.

Risk factors for sexual violence include


  • low level of education;
  • childhood abuse by the perpetrator;
  • observed violence between father and mother or other relatives;
  • antisocial personality disorder;
  • alcohol abuse.

Domestic violence in the family (against the elderly, children, other relatives)

As already mentioned, not only wives of tyrant husbands suffer from domestic violence. Children are frequent victims of fathers and mothers prone to physical and psychological violence. They do not know how to protect themselves from tyranny, they are forced to live for years in an unhealthy atmosphere, having no other choice. In the future they may themselves have a tendency to violence.

Also often victims of domestic violence are older people who are unable to protect themselves, who are ashamed to tell anyone about the tyranny happening at home, or who are afraid of receiving even more aggression from the tyrant.

Scale of the problem

Population-based surveys that collect information from victims provide the most accurate estimates of the prevalence of intimate partner violence and sexual violence. A 2018 WHO analysis of data on the prevalence of violence against women for 161 countries and areas from 2000 to 2022, commissioned by the UN Inter-Agency Working Group on Violence against Women, shows that Globally, nearly one in three women, or 30% of women, will experience physical and/or sexual violence from an intimate partner, sexual violence from another person, or both during their lifetime (2).

  • Global and regional estimates of violence against women

More than a quarter of all women aged 15 to 49 years in a relationship have experienced physical and/or sexual violence from an intimate partner at least once in their lives (beginning at age 15). Across WHO regions, estimated prevalence rates of intimate partner violence range from 20% in the Western Pacific Region, 22% in high-income countries in the European Region and 25% in the Region of the Americas to 33% in the African Region. 31% in the Eastern Mediterranean Region and 33% in the South-East Asia Region.

Globally, up to 38% of all murders of women are committed by their intimate partners. In addition to intimate partner violence, 6% of women report experiencing sexual assault by someone other than their partner, although data on non-partner sexual violence is more limited. Partner violence and sexual violence are most often perpetrated by men against women.

COVID-19 lockdowns have made women even more vulnerable to partner abuse and known risk factors, while services have become less accessible to them. Humanitarian crises and forced displacement can exacerbate existing problems of violence, including intimate partner violence, as well as sexual violence by others, and give rise to new forms of violence against women.

  • COVID-19 and violence against women

Main signs of domestic violence

Where does domestic violence begin, what are its signs?

How to recognize the symptoms of domestic violence

Domestic violence begins with rough treatment and verbal abuse. If the physical impact is obvious, then the emotional one hides an even greater danger with its chronic toxicity. Emotional abuse leads to constant anxiety, depression, and helplessness. Look for ways to get out of such relationships.

Solving problems with domestic violence is part of the abuser's character. A person who allows emotional humiliation and insults can quickly turn to physical violence. Often women continue to tolerate such treatment, believing that “the child is better off with his father” or for financial gain. Living in constant stress will lead to serious problems.

The main symptom of domestic violence is fear. Every day it seems to you that you are “walking a tightrope”, controlling your words as much as possible so as not to provoke the anger of your partner (husband, mother, child) - there is, at a minimum, psychological violence in your home.

How to recognize a violent person

It is very important to recognize the qualities of a rapist in a person at an early stage. This is generally recognized by jealousy, disrespect for other people’s desires and people, their needs, offensive words, and more. Men usually have many gender stereotypes, believing that women need “education.”

A potential tyrant tries to control your whereabouts, forces you to stay at home all the time, and prohibits you from communicating with any of your friends. Your expenses are under control; you are required to report on all expenses. It’s a bad sign if your emails, social networks, instant messengers, and phone calls are being checked.

It is common for an aggressor to blame the victim for problems. He systematically criticizes her over trifles, accuses her of failures, laughs at important things, and allows her to be rude.

It is an alarming sign if, under the influence of certain substances or alcohol, your partner becomes angry, offends animals, pushes you, voices certain threats, rudely grabs your hands, and forces you to enter into sexual relations against your will.

Is it possible to save such a relationship? There is a possibility if the rapist himself sees the problem and wants to change. He will need the help of a psychotherapist or psychiatrist who will teach him how to control his anger.

The rapist doesn't want to change, but you stay with him? This means you find yourself in a cycle of violence, putting your life and the lives of your children in danger. Many women justify their stay with a rapist by saying that the younger generation needs a father. However, they do not take into account: no one needs a rapist father, and a mentally ill child will not be able to lead a healthy lifestyle in the future. In this case, it’s better without “such” father.

Emotional abuse also causes serious harm to health. Victims who have survived such pressure subsequently face psoriasis, stomach ulcers, depression, suicidal tendencies, and alcoholism.

Have you decided to visit a family psychologist together? Such consultation also has a negative side. The opinions of both parties begin to be taken into account - this is not applicable in cases of domestic violence and inevitably part of the blame is shifted to the victim.

Some countries take a family-centred approach, but they also have laws requiring forced medical or psychological treatment.

There are many educational and psychotherapeutic programs in the world for men who abuse their loved ones. In groups, men learn to realize the real motives of their actions and voice their own feelings.

Health implications

Intimate partner violence (physical, sexual and emotional) and sexual assault lead to serious short-term and long-term physical, mental, sexual and reproductive health problems in women. These forms of violence also affect their children and impose significant social and economic costs on women, their families and society. Such violence can have the following consequences.

  • It can lead to deaths in the form of murders and suicides.
  • It can result in trauma: 42% of women who have experienced intimate partner violence report trauma as a result of the violence (3).
  • The consequences of such violence can be unwanted pregnancy, induced abortion, gynecological problems and sexually acquired infections, including HIV. According to a 2013 analytical study, women who have experienced physical or sexual violence have rates of sexually transmitted infections (and in some regions, HIV) that are 1.5 times higher than those of other women who are not experienced physical violence from an intimate partner. These women are also twice as likely to have an abortion (3).
  • Intimate partner violence during pregnancy also increases the risk of miscarriage, stillbirth, preterm birth, and low birth weight. The same 2013 study found that women who have experienced intimate partner violence were 16% more likely to have a miscarriage and 41% more likely to have a preterm birth (3).
  • These forms of abuse can lead to depression, post-traumatic stress disorder and other anxiety disorders, sleep problems, eating disorders and suicide attempts. A 2013 analysis found that women who had experienced intimate partner violence were nearly twice as likely to develop depression and alcohol use problems as other women.
  • Other health effects may also include headache, back pain, abdominal pain, gastrointestinal distress, limited mobility and poor general health.
  • Sexual abuse, especially in childhood, can increase the likelihood of smoking, drug and alcohol abuse, and risky sexual behavior later in life. It is also correlated with perpetration of violence (for men) and exposure to violence as a victim (for women).

Types of violence against women

Types of domestic violence are divided into the following types:


Direct or indirect influence on the victim, the purpose of which is to cause physical harm to her, beatings, slaps, kicks, slaps, and so on. Corporal punishment against any family member is a form of domestic violence. Physical violence also includes unwillingness to provide first aid, deprivation of vital needs (shower, toilet), sleep deprivation, coercion to drugs or alcohol.

Injuring other family members or animals in an attempt to psychologically influence the victim. This is an indirect form of physical violence.

One of the most severe forms of physical domestic violence is rape. The consequence may be unwanted pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases. Often victims, fearing public opinion, remain silent about rape.

This type of violence is usually committed with other forms of domestic violence. This means any forced action of a sexual nature, as well as coercion in the form of persuasion, blackmail, harassment, and bribery.

In our society, as in many others, marriage is often regarded as a man gaining unconditional rights to have sex with his wife, and to use force if she does not want intimacy.

Coercion, “seasoned” with talk about marital debt, is considered sexual violence, since there is no marital debt. In a healthy relationship, sex is always consensual and brings satisfaction and joy to both partners.

Among the forms of sexual violence there is also the demonstration of genitals and pornography.


This form of domestic violence is more common than others. May occasionally be accompanied by physical violence. It is difficult to diagnose, as well as to prove to a court. The remaining forms have obvious physical consequences, while the psychological form rarely has significant visible consequences. At the same time, the damage to the psyche remains very heavy.

Psychological tyranny can be expressed in endless remarks, which the rapist calls ordinary criticism, sarcastic jokes, or any statements that humiliate the victim. There are also various prohibitions regarding meeting with friends or relatives, going to work, and so on. Other manifestations: demonstration of strength without physical force.

A separate sub-item can be identified – gaslighting. The word dates back to the release of the film “Gaslight” (1944). The film demonstrates how one person raises doubts about the adequacy of another, does not confirm the reality of the events taking place, and thereby drives him to madness.

That is, denial of reality in real life can look like this


  • “I never said this, you’re making it up,” “You imagined it,” “This never happened” (denial of facts);
  • “You can’t be angry with me,” “You think you feel bad, but you don’t” (denial of emotions);
  • “Listen, you’re behaving strangely, this could end badly”, “It’s not a bad mood - you’re depressed” (a hint of mental disorders).


This implies control over the family’s financial resources, restricting the victim’s finances, extortion or coercion. In the same category there is a ban on employment, training, as well as deliberate waste of family funds (to create tense relationships). One of the forms of economic violence: the unwillingness of one of the partners to work.

Will it be possible to change your partner and save your family?

The answer is clear: no. The peculiarity of family tyranny is precisely that the impact on the victim is regular. One blow will be followed by others, and the absence of punishment will free the hands of the rapist and give him confidence in his own rightness.

Do not give in to threats or manipulation: your life and health are at stake, so social conventions should go by the wayside. Also, you should not hope that a person will change, since the cause of domestic violence is a conscious desire to harm you to achieve their own gain.

Where can women go for help?

When the prospect of a trial arises, many victims choose to retract their words and “shut up” the situation. They begin to fear that the story will go beyond the family and other relatives, colleagues, and so on will learn about it. Torture of any kind is perceived by them as their own shame.

This stereotype is countered by various organizations that call for resistance to the domestic tyrant, as well as providing various types of assistance to the victim.

Among them


  • Crisis center for helping women and children in Moscow –
  • “No Violence” –
  • Independent charity center for survivors of sexual violence “Sisters”, tel..

On the Internet you can find many other crisis centers for women, and choose the one that suits you.

How to fight a tyrant

What methods should be used to fight the tyrant?

What to do if your husband hits you

If possible, you need to isolate yourself from him - do not voice excuses, but look for options. If you still cannot find such an opportunity, the problem of beatings should be made public. Contact the relevant authorities: notify the district police officer. Enlist the support of loved ones, write a statement to the police. Injuries received must be recorded. Tell your neighbors that if they hear screaming, they should call the police immediately.

In case of possible danger, quickly leave the house. Keep your keys, phone, money, documents in a safe but accessible place so you can quickly pick them up when you need to leave the house. Contact a crisis center where you can get legal and psychological help. Ask for refuge, inaccessible to the tyrant, from friends and relatives.

Situations of domestic violence vary: in some cases it is easier to escape from the tyrant, but it happens when immediate escape is unrealistic. Then you should resort to self-defense.


Some women who are systematically beaten by their husbands are already accustomed to self-defense. The woman goes on the attack to prevent her from being further harmed. The law defines the boundaries of self-defense in this way: the harm inflicted on the offender should be no more than that received by the victim herself.

If a woman finds herself in a position where she needs to defend her life, she cannot accurately determine the nature of the attack in order to adequately respond to the offender. There is a concept of “unexpected attack”, and in this case the victim can defend himself by any means.

Finding herself a victim of violence, a woman must immediately contact the police so that the local police officer can take preventive measures against the tyrant.

If the attacker was harmed, then under no circumstances try to get rid of traces of self-defense. The court may interpret this as a desire to evade responsibility. There is no need to wipe up the blood, get rid of objects with which you protected yourself, and so on, so that the actions are not defined as intentional harm to the other party.

The victim, forced to use self-defense, must necessarily record all the circumstances of the crime - this will subsequently simplify the situation.

In order not to lead to dire consequences of the situation, try to get out of it, even if this worsens your financial situation or deprives you of other advantages - life with a tyrant will not turn out well. Take action and believe in yourself, direct your strength to solving the problem in your life.

How to leave a rapist

The first thing to do if cases of pressure or violent actions become more frequent is to present your partner with a choice: either he radically changes his behavior, or you leave home. If the situation repeats itself, there is no need to give the offender a “second chance” - leave home.

  1. Don't be afraid to take the first step: you are only protecting yourself.
  2. Do not listen to persuasion to return home and “forgive everything.”
  3. If you have children, then take them with you: the law is on your side.
  4. If you are afraid of a rapist, at first live with friends or relatives, not alone.

Domestic Violence Law

In Russian legislation, there have been several attempts to pass a law that would define what is meant by domestic violence and also establish regulatory standards. In 2019, there is no law defining domestic violence as a legal problem. Such a law is needed, and many opposition teams and activists are seeking its adoption.

What does it give? If an elderly person or woman is the victim of violence, but does not result in severe bodily harm or death, then all this is classified as a private prosecution case. This means that the victim must go to the police himself or go to the magistrate, write a statement about the beatings and prove that they really happened. The beatings are removed at the trauma center, then you need to collect a lot of papers and fill them out correctly. Often the victim does not have the energy or time for this, is haunted by a feeling of shame, and cannot afford the services of a lawyer. Therefore, the case rarely goes to trial.

In Russian legislation there is no such thing as domestic violence. There are: beatings, beatings, death threats.

Society reacts differently to the relaxation of the law regarding domestic violence. Some say that this is the right thing to do and that a person should not be jailed for spanking as was the case in the past. Others are convinced that these amendments benefit domestic sadists who go beyond spanking but go unpunished.

The role of the healthcare sector

While preventing and combating violence against women must be based on a multisectoral approach, the health sector plays an important role. The health sector can:

  • Conduct awareness-raising efforts to promote the unacceptability of violence against women and the need to address such violence as a public health problem;
  • provide comprehensive services to survivors of violence, inform and train health care providers to respond comprehensively and sensitively to the needs of survivors in a compassionate and non-judgmental manner;
  • prevent recurrence of violence by early identifying women and children experiencing violence, referring them to appropriate services and providing them with the necessary support;
  • Promote gender equality norms in life skills education and comprehensive sexuality education programs for young people;
  • Build evidence on effective practices and the extent of the problem by conducting population-based surveys or integrating violence against women into population-based demographic and health surveys and surveillance and health information systems.

World situation

What is the situation in the world with domestic violence?

In Russia

So, what is the threat to a spouse prone to tyranny for domestic violence? Each situation is individual, so the police have to investigate each case separately. If we talk about liability, then Article 116.1 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation can help. Criminal liability for domestic violence occurs only if the victim has previously filed a complaint with the court or the police regarding a similar problem against the perpetrator.

What punishment can a tyrant face? Fine in the amount of salary for a period of up to 3 months, compulsory work for a period of up to 240 hours, arrest for a period of up to three months.

Is criminal liability possible? Yes, but in case of relapse, with repeated regular beatings.

If we are talking about a single situational conflict, when there is no regular persecution of one person by another, then administrative liability is allowed. If the victim contacted the police for the first time, then administrative liability occurs only if the attack did not lead to temporary loss of ability to work or health.

So, let's summarize. In 2022, Russian legislation stopped considering domestic violence as a criminal offense unless it resulted in serious injury. If the victim makes a single complaint, the offender faces administrative liability. If you apply again, the offender is charged under Article 116.1 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation “Beatings”.

In other countries

In other countries, the situation is different, and in most of them the attitude towards domestic violence is more violent. For example, if in the United States a person is convicted of domestic violence, he will be tried even if the victim suddenly withdraws the statement.

After calling the police, operatives arrive within five minutes. Considering that domestic violence periodically leads to death, this is a sufficient reason to immediately respond to a call. By the way, often the violators are emigrants who are not accustomed to such a reaction from law enforcement agencies.

Upon arrival, the police examine the victim (in 96% of cases the victim is a woman) for bruises, bruises, and so on. The home is inspected for damage (walls and furniture broken by a fist, etc.). If something like this is discovered, the abuser is arrested and spends the next day in a prison cell. During this time, the court hearing takes place, even if the victim suddenly decides to withdraw the statement.

The instigator of domestic violence must undergo therapy and is prohibited from living in his home until his sentence expires. The victim can file an “order of protection” indicating that she does not want to receive calls or emails from the abuser. He is also prohibited from approaching her at a distance of 20 meters. The detainee is obliged to fulfill all the conditions specified in the “order of protection”. Such protective orders and arrests are entered into a special criminal record, and subsequently this affects the career, obtaining citizenship and other areas.

How to understand that your friends or loved ones are experiencing domestic violence

The victims themselves hide what is happening in their home so carefully that it becomes impossible to find out about the problem. But there are certain signs that will help you understand that a person is being pressured or abused. The following signs should alert you:

  • statements that make it clear that there is fear in the relationship with a partner;
  • performing actions strictly at the direction of the tyrant;
  • too frequent calls and messages informing about location, activities;
  • stories about the harsh nature of the partner and scenes of jealousy;
  • the regular appearance on the body of evidence of “accidental injuries” and “accidents”;
  • missed work days or failure to appear at the place of training without explanation;
  • wearing closed clothing that is not appropriate for the season or wearing dark glasses indoors.

These signs are accompanied by low self-esteem of the victim and changes in behavior for the worse. A relative or colleague becomes withdrawn, taciturn, and susceptible to depression.

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