Alexander Vasukovich

Artefacts of Violence

What do we imagine when we hear about domestic violence? Beating? Swearing? Unfortunately, this is only a small part of what happens to the victims of domestic violence. The aggressor can be so sophisticated in the methods of bullying his victim that it’s hard to imagine that such thoughts can come to a man’s mind. These photographs reconstruct real stories that have occurred with women who have been subjected to domestic violence.

 

Commemorative photo

  • A screenshot of the Facebook post. That's what we see on social networks: smiling people, who are treated as heroes who never dies. Some times posts like these are intended to popularize participation in a conflict and use of force.

While doing my journalism work in Eastern Ukraine many members of Donbas Battalion asked me to make a commemorative photo. I snapped pictures and later send it to soldiers who were depicted at photos and to their children, wives and friends. After a year and a half, I printed that pictures and travelled to Kiev to meet people who have returned from war. I asked them what happened to the people on those pictures. I marked all the soldiers who were killed with a red cross. Number of killed in the war doesn’t impress us so much. Nevertheless, when you are looking into a face of a dead man, know place where he was killed you begin to feel it in a different way. There are a lot of memory photos all around us and this issue is my attempt to direct attention at the story behind the photo of a man, who went up the line.

 

One out of every three women

  • Diana E. Diana moved in domestic abuse shelter the night she came out of the hospital. That night domestic violence survival couldn't go back home, because her husband, who was trying to strangle her to death a few days ago wasn’t arrested shortly after the abuse incident discovered at their home by police and she had no family or friends to lean on. Agressor was trying to strangle her to death during 3 hours, was beating her and threatening by saying: “I love you, but I’ll kill you if you are going to leave me”. She passed out from shock and oxygen deprivation from time to time. And when she came the thing was lasting. She tried to flight, defending herself, but he was stronger than she was. It all began with her intention to break up with him. Husband hadn't exhibited any violent behavior towards Diana up to that point. She had lost her employability for some time. That night he didn't killed her only because he fall asleep on her. That was the very moment she called the police. Police took her and didn't took him. During two hours policeman was taking her details. Policeman were victim-shaming and victim-blaming. After everything was recorded she went back home, where were hiding in a corner all night long till the morning, afraid to wake aggressor up. The next day she filed domestic abuse charges. So did he. The thing is she bite him on the hip in self-defense during his attempt to kill her. Moreover, this was a piece of advice policeman gave to him.

One out of every three women in the Belarus experience physical violence by an intimate partner every year. 77% is a percentage of Belarusian women who will be victims of different forms of violence by an intimate partner in their lifetimes. Every fourth woman suicide case is caused by domestic abuse in the country. 80% domestic abuse cases in Belarus would never come to trial.

Belarusian women de facto are defenseless while Belarusian men de jure are unpunished. Firstly, because of lack of effective and awareness-raising preventive informational measures in the country. It’s a common situation women who are in the situation have no idea how to take an action against abuser. Secondly, because of existent patriarchal tradition of Belarusian medium. Thirdly, because of lack (two in the whole country) of special shelters or shelter-type organizations for domestic abuse victims. Fourthly, because of lack of governmental or social initiatives for national action plan and legal reforms to strengthen protective and punitive measures to cope with and end domestic abuse.

These women are clients of the public association “Radislava”. This organization was established twelve years ago by women who had suffered from regular domestic violence to help other women in similar situation. All of them faced social stigmatization and inadequate measures taken by the state to combat domestic violence. Still they struggled and won a victory, and they are full of energy to reveal their stories and even their faces and thus to show an example for those women, who suffer from domestic violence.