“I hope that individuals facing domestic violence won’t succumb to fear but instead, stand up against their abusers. It’s crucial not to endure silently while they jeopardize lives or inflict lasting disabilities. We, survivors of domestic violence, have the capacity to rebuild our lives and emerge even stronger!” – Anna, a survivor of domestic violence.
As part of the international campaign “16 Days Against Gender Violence,” we share a narrative captured from the experiences of a participant in the program “Advocating vulnerable groups’ rights through a stronger civil society in Uzbekistan”. It is implemented by AFEW International in partnership with ISHONCH VA HAYOT and is financially supported by the European Union Delegation to Uzbekistan.
Anna, a 24-year-old Ukrainian citizen living in Uzbekistan, bravely recounts her story:
I Lived in Fear
Since childhood, I’ve been a victim of domestic violence. My father, a chronic alcoholic, subjected my mother and me to continuous abuse. Even my brother did the same to me. Despite my father’s passing, life didn’t get easier. I later encountered a young man who, unfortunately, turned out to be an oppressor. Initially, our life together was promising – we got engaged, traveled to Poland, and then to Uzbekistan. Violence was absent during this period. However, everything changed upon my arrival in Uzbekistan. He designated me as his second wife and sent me to live with his friend. He visited me every 2-3 days with friends, engaging in gatherings where they drank, assaulted, and brutally beat me. If I resisted, he would lock me inside the apartment. He took control of my life, seized my passport, and constantly threatened my life, insisting that no one cared about me.
When I understood that I can not protect myself, I began seeking help and support. During a rare moment when my partner was sleeping, I took his phone to call a friend via Telegram, who discovered the “ISTIQLOL AVLODI” help center online. During the call, I managed to share my location. Soon after, a lawyer from the NGO “ISTIQLOL AVLODI,” a prevention inspector, and a social worker arrived, taking me to a shelter. The organization’s lawyers assisted me in obtaining a protective order against my partner, initiating a law enforcement investigation. With the protective order and support from a psychologist, my confidence grew, and I realized that the NGO staff wouldn’t harm me but would genuinely aid me in escaping a dire situation. Despite my fears and vulnerabilities in a foreign country without documents, I knew that I wasn’t alone.
I am not alone
The project staff made me feel supported from the beginning, demonstrating sensitivity and understanding. I knew I was safe and surrounded by professionals—a psychologist and a lawyer—who offered invaluable assistance without blame. I share my story with the hope that current victims of domestic violence will find courage to fight back and not endure until their lives are lost or permanently altered. Survivors like us can rebuild our lives and emerge stronger, thanks to the expertise of organizations like “ISTIQLOL AVLODI.”
Today, my aspiration is to break free from the cycle of violence and embark on a new life filled with happiness and safety. While it requires time and effort, I am confident it’s possible. I aim to break the cycle for good, ensuring that my children grow up in a home free from violence. A sincere thank you to those who initiate and support such projects, extending a helping hand to individuals like me.
AFEW International, in partnership with ISHONCH VA HAYOT (IvH), and with financial support from the European Union, is implementing the programme “Advocating vulnerable groups’ rights through a stronger civil society in Uzbekistan”. The programme is dedicated to empowering underserved groups in Uzbekistan, such as people vulnerable to discrimination – women, people with disabilities, people living with or at high risk of HIV and migrants, and to protecting their rights and freedoms through strengthening and building local CSOs’ own organisations and capacities, thereby strengthening civil society in Uzbekistan. In 2023, AFEW and IvH have decided to focus more on youth within the specific target groups mentioned to ensure that vulnerable young people in Uzbekistan have the necessary resources to take part in society.
PS. THIS DOCUMENT HAS BEEN PRODUCED WITH THE FINANCIAL ASSISTANCE OF THE EUROPEAN UNION. THE CONTENTS OF THIS DOCUMENT ARE THE SOLE RESPONSIBILITY OF ISHONCH VA HAYOT AND AFEW INTERNATIONAL AND CAN UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES BE REGARDED AS REFLECTING THE POSITION OF THE EUROPEAN UNION.