Violenza domestica

Una donna ogni quattro in Bulgaria dichiara di aver subito "violenze domestiche". E le istituzioni non danno risposte. Solo alcune ONG tutelano i diritti delle vittime. Il testo è in inglese.

17/02/2003 - 

Shame and fear paralyze the victims of domestic violence, which most of the women have suffered for many years, the daily Sega (1 February) reports in a feature about domestic violence in Bulgaria. The daily describes two representative cases of domestic violence.
For 5 years 23-year old Vanya bore abuse from her husband. She was 20 years old when she met Simeon who is 22 years older than she. She fell in love with Simeon and married him but fell into a vicious cycle, a hell of beatings and insults. "He felt an incredible pleasure to insult me until I broke into tears", recounts Vanya.

Vanya did not pay attention to initial signs but psychologists warn that insults are the first signals of domestic violence. All women should know that the situation can become worse. A husbands' jealousy can destroy a woman's life. A perpetrator of domestic violence may often fancy that his wife is in the embrace of other men and in his eyes she is a tramp.
When Vanya got pregnant, she hoped the child would provide proof of her love and fidelity. The macho however became especially brutal - violence, slaps and kicks in the abdomen followed. "He beat me and I held my tongue because if I said just a little word, he will beat me more cruelly", the young woman said. Their baby boy, Stefan, was also tortured and abused. Vanya escaped from her husband and decided to divorce him because of the recurrent physical and psychological violence. Meanwhile, Simeon took their child and threatened Vanya that she would never see her baby again. She filed a grievance against him at the local Prosecution Office of Sofia. Simeon rushed into Vanya's apartment and assaulted both Vanya and her parents. When Simeon grabbed the child, Vanya's mother tried holding him back. Simeon hit her causing her to fall to the ground and loose consciousness. At that point, Simeon had the child for over a year. Vanya filed numerous complains with the police, the Prosecution Office, and even at the PM, but without any results. Government institutions replied that this is a private legal debate. Ironically, the police told Vanya, "these are family issues". "I have not received any assistance whatsoever from the state", laments the young woman. Vanya lost all trust in Bulgarian legislation and the judiciary. Only one non-governmental organization, Animus, helped her. She called their 24-hour help line when her husband kidnapped Stefan.
With the assistance of Animus psychologists, Vanya has been able to overcome her shock and psychological abuse. Thanks to Animus, Vanya has also successfully reclaimed her child.
The agony of 36-years old Svetla has lasted for 10 years. Her family life became unbearable when she gave birth to her second child. Svetla's husband would come home late at night drunk. He also invited his friends to the house to drink. He would insult her: "You are rubbish and your children are rubbish as well". Insults however were not the end of it, he also beat her. Svetla tried to abandon her husband. She left the children with a friend of hers and requested the police accompany her to her home, because she was afraid of the aggressiveness of her husband. But she was confronted by an imperturbable police-woman who explained to her that the police is not to be involved in the problems of family. Svetla finally turned to the Nadya Center for help and they then sent her to their shelter. Together with her two children Svetla stayed for six months in the shelter.


There are several non-governmental organizations (NGOs) that help and provide free shelter to women and victims of domestic violence. The Nadya Centre in one such NGO that was founded in 1995. It offers consultations with qualified psychologists, lawyers, and neurologists. There is a hot line for calls of women victims of domestic violence. There have been more than 10.000 calls in the Center's eight years of existance. The Nadya Center also functions as a shelter and has approximately 16-18 beds. 60 women along with their children may stay there at one time. From 1997 until presently, 653 women have taken refuge in this shelter. The victims may stay for a duration of 4-6 weeks.

The "Animus" Association offers around the clock consultations with its hot line for victims of domestic violence. 30 volunteers consult women victims of domestic violence or rape. "It is difficult for Bulgarians to come here, they are not ready to recognise that there is violence", said Katya Krastanova from "Animus". Men usually impute guilt to the victims, who in turn provoke an outburst of the rage and violence.

Every fourth Bulgarian woman is a victim of domestic violence

Every fourth Bulgarian woman identifies herself as a victim of domestic violence, according to data of the "Noem"a sociological agency. More than two thirds of the victims of domestic torment do not ask for help. Only 23 % of the victims ask for help from their relatives or some governments' institutions. The majorityof the victims consider the domestic violence as an internal problem and are not prone to discuss it. The feeling of shame prevents 30% of the victims from requesting help.
61% of all Bulgarians know at least someone who has been beaten or mistreated by their husbands. About 40% of Bulgarians explain the reasons for domestic violence as a lack of money, unemployment and financial problems.