Maia Pelishvili, 42, Rustavi

It is rather difficult for me to talk about this openly but my story may help someone, which encourages me to share it. When a woman understands that she is not alone, that others also have experienced the same problems and have managed to find solution to them, she will find it easier to build self-confidence and make a decision.

Like for many other women, for me the stage of life, which is called “getting married”, started in a standard way. I was not going to marry because I was just 17 years old. But I was abducted so I had to make a choice. The first thought that came to me mind was the stereotypical “what will people say if I go back to my parents?” So even though I had support from my parents and they offered me to take back home, I decided to stay.

My husband was 7 years older than me. He said he wanted to marry a younger girl to bring her up “in his own way”. Then you have to adapt to the family… You have to put your interests aside. Initially I could not realize things. I did not understand that they tried to change me.

At that time, I studied at a musical school in Gori and I had to go there from the village. This was a problem because sometimes he did not let me go there. He never explained the reason, he was just in that mood. Sometimes he allowed me to go but at other times not.
There was a job available in the district. He allowed me to start working. But sometimes he would tell me: “You will not go to work today”. There was no reason, no explanation for that. “Why?” He never answered this question. “Because I said so!” and that’s it.

Another problem was that I had to think exactly like my husband did. I did not even wish to express my own self in any way. I think if he had met a more mature, stronger girl, with firm character he would not have acted like that. But we had been taught that we were supposed to be obedient, to obey our husbands and act as our families wished us to. I was under the influence of the upbringing and behaved respectively.

He did not think slapping in the face was violence. If he slapped you in the face „so what, not a big deal! “. I depended on him financially as well, therefore everything – starting from choosing my clothes ending with relationships with my friends – depended on the mood of my husband.

I lived for 12 years in this condition consciously. You know what I mean by ‘consciously’? I believed that I was supposed to maintain the family and tolerate the pain because I was a woman!

I confronted myself first when I realized that my children had grown up. I realized that my children would also have to live in the abusive environment. People around lived in the same way. In most cases, women were in the same condition. When I started thinking about children, I understood that it was time to change our life, but I thought that we had to do that together.

We moved to a new place and a different environment. Our relationships should also have changed but it got worse. I became more mature and realized that we could not continue this way. However I was not thinking about running away or leaving. Like many women, I always thought that he would change.

Then when I got an opportunity to study at the Police Academy and work, I faced another problem. He had to recognize that I was capable of doing something independently. When I told him that I was going to study at the Police Academy, he told me: “Ok, go and study”, but he said that ironically. My father also opposed my decision. I remember he came and asked my husband: „Why do you let her go? “. My husband sneered: “Let her go and see what she can do, she will crawl back on her knees“.

My father did not say anything. He told me before he left: „Go and study my girl, show him what you can do! I will support you in everything“. This was the biggest incentive that encouraged me to take this step. When I started studying at the academy I wanted to prove to myself in the first place that I was capable of doing something.

When I started reading laws I realized the conditions we have to live in. Women are not allowed to study, to work, they are not allowed to use the Internet. The less informed she is the fewer are her demands. This is how men with inferiority complex tend to act. During one of the conflicts, when I argued back, he hit me without any reason. He told me that he had hit me because he was not as good at arguing as I was.

Once he abused verbally someone in the street without any reason, I asked him why he was swearing and whether he would like if someone did the same to me, he turned to me and slapped me in the face. His behavior was absolutely illogical. He also used to say things like: “If a woman tells you to go right you have to go left,” or “Women always tend to say stupid things”. When things like that happen every day they become rather suppressive.

Before I started working in the police, the situation had already matured for our divorce. I tried to mend our relationships later for several times but after I became confident in myself, reevaluated many things and learned exactly what I wanted and how I wanted to live – I did not want to return there anymore.

I was probably lucky because our divorce was not complicated, i.e. unlike other abusive husbands, he did not attempt to stalk me, threaten by killing or mutilating, or use the kids as weapons in divorce. I did not need to apply to the police or relatives for help. I told my parents that it was me who had made the decision and they did not need to interfere.

To me this was not breaking up the family, rather, this was an escape.

Currently I am a police officer. I have fought against all forms of violence against women for ten years by performing my job duties, using private contacts, holding training courses and awareness meetings, or just by giving friendly advice in the social media. I want all women to be reasonable and to be able to break out of the terrible feeling of being a victim.”