Dea Goshkheteliani, 22 years old, Kutaisi
„Why put up with violence?“
Perhaps the most important is that abusers never reveal their violent nature at the beginning of the relationship. I’d known my future husband more than a year before marrying him though he didn’t use to reveal his abusive behaviour back then. When I became his wife he turned out to be having completely different views and nature, which he gradually used to disclose. Once I even told him so, I said he disguised himself perfectly.
We’ve been together for one year and ten months. We didn’t have a civil marriage but only wedded in a church. In the presence of his friends he often would say: “Did you think I was going to share my riches with her?” I thought of it as a joke and used to laugh it off.
Due to my profession (the author studies law), I had some information about abusers, yet when it concerns you, it’s not easy to associate yourself with this all and realize that the victim is you. In the morning before leaving home, he would say I was ugly and he had a thing about me. He often used to make fun of my appearance, my mental abilities and financial state – not only mine but all of my friends’ and relatives’. He was threatening to make me nobody, that I would suffer without him, that he would take my child from me and lock me in his father’s mental hospital. It made me so oppressed and discouraged I nearly had no personality, problems with memory started and even lost weight – I lost 10 kg while married.
Worried about the child, who used to watch his father abusing and shouting at her/his mother, I wanted him/her to have a better future. What thoughts and mentality would he/she adopt being brought up in those conditions?
Control and isolation
He gradually started forbidding me to go out and controlled my guests as well. One of my friends he used to call “goer” as she was married for the second time and had a most beautiful child. About another friend, he said she wasn’t welcome to visit us anymore and I was not allowed to speak to her. I suppose, having seen how that girl supported me, he didn’t want me to have well-wishers around. Later on, he took advantage of the child – he made me let our babysitter go and, having the child to look after, asked me to quit the job. He even refused me to take the child to a nursery. At first, he was saying he wasn’t forbidding but “giving an advice”. His advice eventually grew into restrictions.
In the beginning, I was trying to take into account his point of view on some of the restrictions. I would even think it was I who was guilty as he’s been very good at manipulation and making me feel ashamed. But, eventually, I began to disapprove and was asking questions like why couldn’t I do a thing on my free will when doing no harm?! Why shouldn’t I work if I want to?!
Severe forms of violence
I would leave a light on in the hall to better watch the child if he/she wakes up at night. He didn’t even let me explain why I was doing this, jumped out of bed, pushed me to the floor, kicked me, turned the light off and went to bed right away.
It was during the second pregnancy when I first asked someone else, that is his mother and later my parents, to intervene between us. His father called in the morning. I don’t know what he told him, but since morning being very irritated, he argued over trivialities like why I forgot to take baby carriage cover at Lisi lake or why my hair wasn’t getting dry for us to leave home soon and so forth. For him not to put the blame for my annoyance on pregnancy, I asked him to go out with friends and relax, or drink some beer and then we could talk calmly. He shouted at me more furiously “Who the hell are you to tell Giga Bakuradze what to do?”. He slammed the brakes so that I banged my head against the windshield. We went home shouting and arguing. I grasped the child and asked him to go. As I was standing in front of him pregnant with the child in my hands, he slapped my face. In response to my panic attack, he played a suicide scene out – went out of the bathroom with a half-empty bottle of solvent saying he drank it and he was going to die. I rang his mother, but before her coming over he ran away from home. That night I went to my mother-in-law. I wasn’t going back home, but then my father-in-law called and started swearing at his wife. I took pity on her and came back home to my husband.
It coincided that a few days later I came down with sinusitis. My sister came along to look after the child as I felt horrible. having happily returned after shopping, my husband started another quarrel over the shirt, which I didn’t iron for him. He threw aside blanket from me ill and pregnant lying in bed and shouted I must have left his house immediately. He even called my mother and threatened to throw all my belongings out of the window if my parents wouldn’t take me home. My middle sister witnessed this. My parents arrived that same night and took me to Kutaisi. It appeared I had sinusitis, trigeminal and occipital neuralgia at the same time. Extreme stresses added to all these, and fetus stopped developing – I miscarried.
Abuser’s Apologies and regrets
After I received treatment and recovered, my husband arrived in Kutaisi for me. He came with apologies and begged to let him in, saying he made a mistake being under the influence. He blamed his parents’ personal problems for what happened. As they told me, he even cried having gone on his knees and begged for forgiveness. Having believed he was having a tough time, I felt sorry for him and we reconciled. We’ve had a relatively peaceful life for nearly a month. Then he started acting aggressively again. But I wasn’t taking it as easy as before and confronted him openly. I was particularly worried by the fact that he would easily fall under his father’s influence who believes women must keep their mouth shut and mustn’t leave the kitchen. My husband and I used to live in a separate apartment. My babysitter and neighbours would see how I took care of him and our child. I would get up at 7 in the morning and do all the housework having returned in the evening, but he was never satisfied. I even made cakes and juice for him not to eat fast food at work. Later I realized it was only the reason for abuse.
Legal way of struggling
It was this summer I first reported to the police, after having a miscarriage as the relationship with my husband became extremely strained. Having discovered some lies too, I finally decided to leave him. I packed my things and left him a letter explaining why I was leaving. He arrived as I was leaving the house. After reading the letter, he slapped my face and tried to strangle me. He took my phone away too. I somehow escaped, having locked myself up in my daughter’s/son’s bedroom, managed to call the police from his phone. The same night I went to my mother-in-laws’ to take the child. She didn’t open the door and turned off her phone. I didn’t know where my daughter/son was and called the police again. They’ve been lying all night that the child was with my husband.
I’ve tried to solve the custody issue between us without going to court, but he took the child from nursery and didn’t let me see him/her for more than a month. There are four police reports of how he was using the child to his advantage. As I went to court, he threatened to take away the child and never let me see her/him again. I didn’t take the lawsuit back anyway though we shared custody. It was then my daughter/son stayed with me for the first time after four months. Although he didn’t quit destroying my reputation spreading rumours about my sex life claiming that it was me who abandoned the child.
On January 3 in 2018 he burst into my parents’ house and beat my father and me in front of two underaged children (my daughter/son and my sister). He was repeatedly hitting my father, who was lying unconscious, in the face. I immediately called the police, however, he was released by the court on bail of 3000 GEL. After this incident, I had no choice rather than making our conflict public. Being the head of Khoni mental hospital, my ex-father-in-law would always boast that he was a very influential person, saying he often used to take his position to his advantage.
Finally, after lodging the appeal, the appeal court has sentenced him to imprisonment and now he’s still in prison. So far, I’m not sure what final sentence the court will give him as the legal proceedings are still going on. A maximum possible sentence is three years, which I think is not quite enough. For me, it’s important him to realize and feel remorse for his guilt, which he hasn’t even admitted yet.
In general, I would say that police has really supported me. Although many women from regions, also victims of violence, who contacted me, share their rather unpleasant experience with the police. So, it seems media has bigger and more positive influence on public opinion than state institutions and police. In my case, it was publicity in media that prompted ministry of internal affairs to take swift actions. The fact that Minister of Justice and ombudsman also responded to my story makes me feel safer.
Apart from that, thanks to my profession, I knew whom I should have been appealing to. One of them was the lecturer of Ilia State university Tamar Gurchiani. Tamar informed the dean and security, so everyone was ready to guard my safety at the university to avoid the tragedy similar to one happened before when one of the lecturers was shot by his husband. Tamar has also contacted Georgian Young Lawyers’ Association and now they are defending me in court. I was really amazed to learn that there are so many groups, organisations and movements defending women’s rights. It makes me very happy and much stronger.
My ex-husband and his family could not get used to the thought of being unable to change and enslave me. They knew I was not going to became a housewife by no means. But there were times when, thanks to my husband, I was about to quit dreams about finding a job within my profession. Though now, having gone through all these experience I would probably prefer to work in human rights law.
Author: Ida Bakhturidze
Photo credit: Sopo Aptsiauri
Translation: Nino Suramelashvili