A few weeks ago I attended a training for police officers at the police Academy in Tbilisi, together with swedish journalist Maja Aase. The training was arranged by Anti-Violence Network of Georgia and the topic was Domestic Violence; what are the signs and how to handle it. Some twenty young men and a couple of women were listening to psychologists Manana Sologashvili and Elene Samushia as they described the different forms of domestic violence, the psychotypes of victims and perpetrators and the role of the police in DV-cases.
According to statistics, every third woman has experienced domestic violence in Georgia, and so far this year 23 women have died as a result of it. However, 78 % of the population hold the view that domestic violence is a family matter that should not be discussed publically. Almost 30% of the abused women never apply for any kind of help due to fear or shame. The young police aspirants had a hard time to believe these facts, and some of them thought the numbers must be exaggerated. Unfortunately they are not.
One of the hardest things to understand is why the victim stays with her abuser, and that question also caused a lot of discussions among the students, who had several different suggestions . However, the women don´t always realize they are victims. Usually it starts with psychological abuse, and the victims are gradually being robbed of their self esteem and isolated from their net work. In this state it is very difficult to break up, especially if there is no support and no other place to go.
There were also a lot of different opinions on the cause of violence. According to research in Scandinavia, where I study Social Work and Social Science, violence is a reaction on feeling powerless, and to stop it we have to understand the background and reasons for violence. That was pretty much what was presented at the training, in the picture of the “Wheel of Violence” power and control was placed in the middle, as the main cause.
At the end of the training we were asked about the situation in Sweden on Domestic Violence. We have a population of almost 10 million people, compared to Georgia´s 4,5 million. In average there are 30 000 reports on violence against women every year, 45% of these are carried out within the seclusion of the home, by a person close to the woman. About 17 cases each year have a deadly outcome, so there is a lot to be done on this matter in our country as well, which surprised the georgian police aspirants. Let´s combine our strengths and experiences and work on this together, so women can feel safe in their homes everywhere.
Gabriella Erixon, student of Social Work and Social Science at the University of Lund, Sweden and intern at the Anti- Violence Network of Georgia