Nino Chincharauli, 30 years old, Tbilisi
“Anytime I read stories similar to what I’m about to tell you, I thought, “Silence kills!’’ First of all, I blamed women who have been victims of violence, who didn’t speak up and who, by their silence, were allowing the number of abusers to grow. Only now, when something happened to me, bringing me 6 months of sleepless nights and nightmares, can I begin to understand those women, since the shock from the stress is so enormous that you’d rather dare to kill yourself than spend even one minute remembering any of it. But I still decided to tell my story, because this living nightmare touched not only me, but the most important person in my life – my child.
It has been a year now, since I am a single mother of two lovely boys, both of which are on the autism spectrum. The older one is 8 years old and the younger – four. In every situation, we’re encountering problems from society, which doesn’t have a slightest clue how to interact with people with special needs. My elder son started talking at four and the younger, who’s four now, doesn’t talk at all and is hyperactive. Because of this, he had to leave kindergarten. Leaving aside discriminatory comments from the staff “every weird child is with us!”), my son was separated from other children in another room and they didn’t even bother to change his diapers. I registered a complaint in the agency about that and got some results too.
I got lucky in that my elder son has a great teacher at school who cares about him and makes sure no one bullies him, since when a child is different, he’s hard to manage, thinks slower, or thinks in different terms, and he’s an easy target of bullying. My son lives in his own world, but he’s a very sociable person.
The story I’m about to tell you happened to my elder son.
We’re always spending summer in the village of my childhood. Because of my work schedule, I have only one week of vacation per year, so I planned it in a way to take my children to the village. I was born in Tbilisi, I went to the school there too, but I grew up in the village, where I always spent my school holidays.
I had a childhood friend who lived next door, and we visited each other very often, spending all of our time together. One day, my older son went to my friend’s house to borrow a bicycle. My friend’s father was drunk and forbade him to enter the house. My son probably didn’t obey and hit him in the stomach. I heard such a horrible scream that I immediately ran outside. I thought either a dog bit him, or something really bad happened. My son had bruises from fingers on his neck. The man was standing outside, swearing, saying we were all crazy, sick people, and that we shouldn’t dare to go there anymore.
When we came back home, the child was in hysteria. I asked what happened, he told me the man hit him. I asked one more time who hit him, and he repeated the same answer. I asked, did he hit you or was he trying to strangle you? He showed me how the man was trying to strangle him. His neck was red. Before calling the police, I decided to find out by myself what really happened.
That man run out from the yard, was swearing again, yelling, “I don’t want to see you once more.” I went to the yard and asked her mother calmly what happened, to please tell me the truth, did he hit the child? She told me, no, nothing happened, he was just frightened.
However, fingerprints were visible on his neck. The man didn’t like me there searching for answers. When I went out from the yard, he hit me in the face. I had my phone in my hand and instinctively hit him with it in his face. He knocked the phone from my hands and hit me again. We were fighting in the middle of the street and even if nobody could see us, at least everybody could hear our screams, but none of the neighbors, who knew me from the childhood, didn’t come out to help me. Then his mother came out and tried to stop the fight, and got hit, probably accidentally from his son, since police’s investigation says she had some bruises too (but later, that women testified that I hit her).
Until the police came, I tried to calm my child, but I couldn’t because I was shocked and I couldn’t even control my hands. The police interrogated us in detail, them too, of course. However, they turned their testimony around like I ran inside their house and beat them both – the man and his mother. How could a woman like me beat someone up? Look at my fists, how could I beat such a huge man? The police told me that if I wrote a formal complaint, then I’d be held responsible for my acts too, since this man also had some injuries and as his mother was telling, I hit them. But I still wasn’t going to give up easily.
On the way to the police department, my relative called me, screaming at me, “how could you do something like this? there was the police by my house, it’s me who has to live here, not you”. He didn’t even ask what happened, he said, “you’re a troubled person, how did you treat the neighbors, cancel your complaint immediately, don’t you dare writing anything there”. Another relative of mine came to the police department and forced me to leave the place. Finally, I wrote a statement that the man didn’t touch me or my son and it was just verbal altercation.
They made my child write lies, that the man didn’t touch him, he only screamed at him and he was frightened. My neighbor’s brother was a police officer, I don’t know how, but he sorted it out somehow and the officer told me not to talk about the incident with other neighbors. I stopped going to the village, I don’t have any relations with my relatives anymore. This man hasn’t been charged for his actions, in addition, it turned out like everything was my fault. “It’s a village, you have to look at this situation in a different way” – that was the advice that my relatives gave me.
After that, the child was in stress for a long time. Once, in school, he got to write an essay as a homework; he wrote that the most horrible day in his life was, in his words, “when an evil man almost strangled me”. Every time I think about it, blood rushes to my head and I hate myself, I couldn’t protect myself or my son. “This is a village” – probably it means that beating women and children is normal there and nobody spoils their relationships with neighbors.
For six months now I am having nightmares every night, or hear my son’s screams in my sleep. I look at him and feel guilty. My son’s a boy too, who saw with his own eyes that any asshole can insult him without punishment. What should I teach him after this, or what example should I set for him, I do not know. Telling this story loudly will probably make me feel a little better. Silence slowly kills the victim and emboldens the criminals.”
Author: Nino Gamisonia
Photo: Nino Baidauri