Russia: Who experiences violence most often

Who experiences violence most often




Article published on the ASI website


During January and February this year, the (No to Violence) centre, which is classified as a foreign agent, interviewed 17 of its employees as part of a sociological study to find out who contacts the centre most often and what kind of help they are seeking.


The purpose of the research was to:


  • Build a generalised and average picture of people who turn to the centre for help and to evaluate their requests;
  • Learn more about domestic abuse that takes place in the capital and the regions;
  • Understand the challenges faced by the net team.


Those who contact the centre seeking help are:


  • Women who have experienced violence inflicted by their partner;
  • Older women (55 to 60+ years old);
  • Women who are being stalked;
  • Those who have witnessed abuse;
  • The abusers themselves;
  • Men (non-abusers).




Women victims of violence inflicted by their partner


Women who contact the centre most often are between 25 and 40 years old and live in Moscow or another large city. Most are married, co-habiting less often, and have one or two children. They don’t work or have independent sources of income, although women on a regular salary have been known to contact the Nasiliu team. They are either in an abusive relationship or have recently left a violent partner and are experiencing severe trauma.


Victims are experiencing (have experienced) psychological abuse in relationships which is most often accompanied by physical violence and therefore the most likely reason for seeking help.


According to the research, victims are most often scared as well as anxious and uncertain about the future. Some are psychologically ready to quit an abusive relationship but have good reason to expect violence from their partner or being blackmailed if they try to leave.


There are times when victims expect someone to solve the problem for them and rescue them in the process as they are not yet ready to take steps to leave their abusive relationship.


Older women


The research shows that older women don’t come forward so often but do so fairly regularly. According to Nasiliu staff, these cases are usually the most difficult and psychologically demanding to deal with. These women have suffered years of physical abuse, either from their spouse or adult children and sometimes from their neighbours. They most often contact the centre after being persuaded to do so by someone who has seen the extent of the violence they have suffered.


Many older women have been in abusive relationships for a long time and have already resigned themselves to their situation, believing that nothing is likely to change.


Women who are being stalked


Women in this category may be those who have already left an abusive relationship but are being stalked by their former partner. And they can also be women who are being stalked after a brief sexual relationship or even if one hasn’t taken place. The study also shows that instances of stalking have increased since last autumn.


Those who have witnessed abuse


Those who have witnessed abuse regularly contact the centre. They are mostly women – friends, sisters and mothers of the victims. Sometimes men – neighbours or adult children of the victim will get in touch with us, asking how they can persuade their mother to leave a long-standing abusive relationship.


Witnesses are encouraged to try and convince the victim to contact the centre directly. In addition, they can obtain legal advice in person or in writing and pass on all this information to the victim afterwards.


The abuser


Nesiliu’s data show that most abusers are not very forthcoming when it comes to talking to the centre’s psychologist. Men most often turn to the centre because of external pressures – when they have been given an ultimatum as a result of their aggression, or when people outside are talking about it. But, as Nasiliu says, abusers very rarely take responsibility for their own actions.


Recently, however, there has been an increase in the number of men under 40 who have an intrinsic motivation of “I don’t want to be an abuser”. The psychologist says that such men use violence not because of their beliefs but due to an inability to manage and control their emotions. Older men act out of extrinsic motivation, which psychologists try to convert into intrinsic motivation. These men are more susceptible to gender stereotypes.


However, abusers can also be burnt-out mothers who are aggressive towards their children. This comes from an intrinsic motivation – feelings of shame, guilt and a desire to change things for the better.


Women who inflict violence against adult parents or their partners are also abusers. However, there are very few such cases as women regard self-defence as violence.




Men who contact the centre do so as witnesses to abuse and much less often as victims, with their referrals accounting for 1% to 2% of the total number of requests. These are often as a result of sexual abuse experienced during childhood or violence inflicted by a partner.


Men are often worried about appearing helpless when asking for legal aid at the centre and even offer to pay for their consultation.


You can contact the centre for help 24 hours a day via Nesiliu’s website or by calling 8 (495) 916-30-00. The centre offers assistance both in person in Moscow and online throughout Russia.


You can read the whole study on








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