After nearly 20 years of marriage wasted in beatings and humiliations, Maria*, a woman from a town in the south of the country, decided to leave her abusive husband. Now she's building a new life with her four daughters. On her way to freedom, she was helped by the employees of the Rehabilitation Center for Survivors of Violence, founded in Gagauzia region with the support of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in Moldova.
Maria met her future husband when she was 15 and he was almost 22. By the time she turned 16, they had been already living together. They formalized their relationship after their first child was born. She wanted a happy family, but her dreams were ruined with the first beating. It happened shortly after she had moved into her husband's house, and ever since, acts of violence had repeated frequently, even when Maria was pregnant.
At first, after each violent episode, she would leave home to find refuge at her parents. She would then come back, surrendering to her man's supplications, hoping for the things to change. Hopes would ruin again and again, because her husband would soon forget his promises and resume the beating.
Later, with already four daughters, she stopped seeking refuge at her mother's. "It was a shame," the woman says. Thus, all five would find shelter at their neighbors', in abandoned houses or simply would wait outside until the man's anger lessened.
She did not have many opportunities to find a job between her four pregnancies, especially after her third child, who was born with severe disabilities. Thus, at times, children’ benefits were the only source of income for the family – a modest amount and a trigger for quarrels. She was beaten, the woman says, because she used the money to buy diapers and baby food, while her husband wanted to go to the bar or buy cigarettes.
While she was married, Maria filed six reports at the police, and her husband would get just as many contravention offences filed and hours of community service. "He would go, do his work hours, promise to change his behavior, but then he would forget and start beating me and scaring the children again."
Conflicts escalated eighteen months ago, when the family moved in at her husband's parents'. Since then, the woman has been morally and physically abused not only by her spouse, but also by her mother-in-law.
She got a job at a factory where she worked on two lathes simultaneously, eight hours a day, to earn some extra money. "I would come home exhausted, and that is when the quarrels and fights would begin."
She reached the end of her powers and asked for help only when she was beaten and left with her youngest daughters on a street in a neighboring village, where they went to visit their relatives, in the middle of the night.
"They just pulled me out of the car, turned around and were off. I was left alone with two kids. I waited about an hour, I thought they were coming back, at least for the sake of the girls, but they did not," the woman says.
The rescue came from the Rehabilitation Center for the Survivors of Violence