So, as I wrote you, we are making film about violence, not just domestic violence, but violence our system, system in Ukraine, don't protect the people against violence. That police, authorities, and system, like whole system, don't react properly when someone makes this violence, and just started to react when victims are killed, but injured, or victims try to protect themselves and kill the abusers.
And we have two stories in our films about two women, Ukrainian women. One of them, she was 21 years old, and she was killed by her boyfriend.
And the other women, she's mother of four children, and she's not in prison because when she was pregnant by her first child, and her husband started again to beat her. She took a knife and put this knife to his chest, and he died.
So, this story a little bit different because in one story, there is a girl, she tried to protect herself, but she even moved abroad to work to stop this communication with this boyfriend, but he found her. He hit her when he saw her, and once he came to her apartment and cut by a big knife, the cut and cut the communications, and other court, and other police, first of all, they came to this apartment, they saw what he did. They talked to the girl, to her mother, and they told them, they told them to the police that this boyfriend very often do this, and he hated you very much, and he said, I will kill you because you have to be with me, and this police say, okay, that's not a crime, it's just administrative offense, and court give him 51 rimya of fine. It's like less than two years, less than two years, and they didn't stop him, and once you disappeared, it was in November, and she was found in his basement killed in January. Her body lay in this basement one month.
So, I wanted to ask you why Yulia and why Anna, this mother of four children who killed her husband, didn't leave the abusers, didn't make them stop to do what they did?
Well, I don't know, I don't know these two particular women, of course, but generally, victims do not abandon the abusers, do not dissolve the abusive relationship, either for practical reasons, so they are financially dependent, they have very young children, they have nowhere to go, for example, if the country doesn't have an infrastructure of domestic violence shelters, they are embedded in a society or a culture that is patriarchal, and prefers men to women, legally, men have more rights than women, or they are in a cultural society where women are supposed to act submissive, and their femininity, their very nature as women, their identity as women, is crucially dependent on acting submissive. If you're not submissive, you're less of a woman, you're more of a man.
So, these are objective reasons to not leave, to not dissolve the relationship, and to not move on, because society expects you, culture dictates to you, or there are constraints, financial, economic, legal, and so on, in many countries, if the woman leaves the husband, she loses the children. Custody is granted automatically to the husband, not to the woman.
I'm sorry, it's not the case in Ukraine.
Yeah, I'm giving you an overview, generally.
The second group of reasons is psychological.
We know today that victims and abusers develop very complex, very complex web or network of interactions.
The abusive behavior satisfies psychological needs of the victim in a variety of ways, and she finds it very difficult to leave.
The behavior of the abuser is never the same, never predictable, but the abuser is sometimes loving and sometimes violent, sometimes caring, and sometimes has no empathy, etc., and we call this intermittent reinforcement.
And this kind of unpredictable, arbitrary, capricious behavior creates an effect which is known as trauma bonding.
The trauma of the abuse, the trauma of even violence, the trauma of even a threat to life. This trauma creates a bond, strong bond, strong attachment with the abuser, because the abuser is holding the key to feeling good. The abuser is holding the key to welfare, to well-being.
When the abuser smiles at you, you're in the seventh heaven, you're in the sky, you're the happiest woman on earth, and the next day is violent and beats you up and hates you and verbally abuses you and you are under, you know, you're underground, you want to die.
He controls, gradually, the abuser begins to control the moods and the emotions of the victim. We call it in clinical psychology regulation.
The abuser begins to regulate the internal environment of the victim so that he becomes a part of the victim. He is introjected.
The victim and the abuser become one organism. This process is called merger or fusion. They become one organism, and the role of the abuser is to regulate the emotions and the moods of the victim, and the role of the victim is to satisfy the needs of the abuser, any kind of need, if he's narcissistic, narcissistic supply, attention, admiration. If he has other problems, she could be his mother figure. She could be his surrogate mother.
So she fulfills psychological functions for him as well. It's a very, very powerful bond, extremely difficult to break, even in therapy, even when the parties go to psychotherapy, even when the authorities do intervene.
Sometimes the abuser is put in jail for five years, and the woman and the victim is waiting, waiting for the abuser to come back to her.
The rate of recidivism among victims is extremely high. More than 80% of women, most victims are women, more than 80% of women return to the abuser, never mind what he did, never mind how he was punished.
By which authority? Never mind what the family says, never mind what friends do, never mind the support she has, never mind therapy, 80% return to the abuser.
Because the abuser is not a separate, separate person. He's not a separate entity. He is a part of her. He's a part of her mind.
This is the trauma bonding. It's a big problem.
How to break out, how to escape from disconnection?
First of all, it's very important to understand that the proper laws, if you have the proper law, so for example, in the West already, we have very advanced laws. It's illegal to stalk someone. This is what you describe. It's called stalking. It's illegal to stalk someone, to follow them around and to refuse to leave them. If they ask you to leave them alone, you refuse to leave them. That's stalking.
So it's illegal. It's illegal even to send emails or to post on social media, on Facebook, posts which are threatening or bullying or harassing. It's illegal.
You can go to, in the United Kingdom, you can go six months in jail, in Canada, five years in jail. So laws in the West are very, very well developed, but the impact is almost zero, almost minimum.
The West has a very, very well developed network of domestic violence shelters where there is violence in the family, the woman can take the kids and go to live in these shelters and these shelters are protected and the abuser, usually a man, not always, but usually a man, the abuser cannot come to these shelters.
So the woman is protected, but 80% of these women leave the shelter and come back to the abuser of their own will. 70 to 90% of women, depending on the offense, refuse to press criminal charges against the abuser. Refuse.
The police intervenes. The police is saying, okay, give us the weapon to put him in jail. And she says, no, he's the father of my children. I love him. He was drunk. He had a difficult day. He is stressed. He had a difficult childhood. It's a problem, a severe problem.
Now, I would lie to you if I tell you that we have a solution. We don't have a solution.
The victimhood is a serious problem. In October, this October, 2020, there was a study published and it is titled the Tendency for Interpersonal Victimhood. It was a group of Israeli psychologists.
The head of the group is called Gabbay. Tendency for interpersonal victim.
And they discovered that victims actually have a personality construct. They have a part of the personality that makes them become victims. And this part of the personality is element in the identity, element in who they are.
So you can change in therapy. You can change behavior. You can teach. You can teach in therapy, coping strategy. You can give good advice. You don't need to be a therapist. You can be a good friend and give good advice. The family can provide protection. The state can provide protection.
But how do you change total personality?
We are beginning to believe that victim is a personality, not a behavior, not a choice, not a decision, not a circumstances, not, you know, it's a personality.
And victims would tend to choose repeatedly, by the way, abusers.
There is a big movement online about narcissistic abuse. I invented the phrase narcissistic abuse in 1995. And I'm following narcissistic abuse since then because I came up with it. And I can tell you most women who end up a relationship with a narcissistic abuser, the next man is a narcissistic abuser.
They learn, they read, they watch videos, they get education, they go to therapy, they suffered, it was horrible, and so on and so forth. And the next man will be narcissistic abuse. It's a personality structure and we need to develop, we don't have, we need to develop personality-wide therapies and interventions, not to take care only of the victim situation, not to think that the legal system will solve it, not to think that infrastructure will solve it.
But we need interventions that are geared to deal with the entire personality because the victimhood situation takes care of many, many aspects of the personality, of the mood, of the emotions, of the cognition. All personality is inside, involved in being a victim. And it's difficult to break.
Now, stalking is a different issue. Stalking the victim does want to finish, does want to separate. And then the mental health problem is the stalker. The stalker has a mental health problem. He cannot let go. I will not go into the psychology now, but there's a developed literature about stalking.
But I want to tell you something. There are laws against stalking in the West, for example, in Canada, in the United Kingdom, in the United States, there are laws against stalking and they don't help. Stalking is a mental illness. It's not something that you can regulate with law.
You can tell the stalker, don't come near this woman or I will put you in jail and he will come near the woman and he will go to jail and he will leave jail and he will again come and he will again go to jail. Stalkers go in and out of jail for years, for decades. It's mental illness.
What I'm trying to say is that the only ways to cope with this phenomenon except the legal side.
Of course, the legal side indicates that the culture and the society are ready to cope with the problem.
Because until the second half of the 20th century, we did not consider abuse and domestic violence a problem. It was not a problem.
In Russia, for example, they just changed the law and they legalized domestic violence. Again, it's legal.
And in the United Kingdom, domestic violence was legal until the end of the 19th century. So domestic violence was not considered a problem, definitely not a legal problem until very recently, until 50 years ago, 40 years ago.
I don't think the solution is the law. I think the solution is in education and the solution is in mental health, in increasing dramatically the capacity to deal with mentally ill people.
Both the abuser and the victim are mentally ill. I'm not talking about regular cases. I'm talking about extreme cases.
This is mental illness.
And the main instrument and tool should be mental health intervention. In other words, psychotherapy, maybe medication.
We have good results with medicating stalkers because stalking is a form of anxiety disorder and depression. So medication sometimes help.
They need to take care of these people's mental issues. No amount of laws and shelters and police and judges. This is not the solution. We see it in the West.
It's not working.
And how society has to react to the violence? Do society or like a part of society, for example, police or social worker, do they have a right to think or talk to the victim that they are guilty themselves, to shame them because they did something to avoid this connection with abusers, with violator?
Abuse is never justified. Abuse can never be justified.
And therefore, the victim has no blame ever.
But I think we must make a very important distinction between blame and responsibility.
Abuses are never to blame. Never. They're victims.
Abuse victims are never to blame.
But they do have responsibility.
Abuse victims that refuse to act to make the situation better, or safe. Abuse victims that refuse to press criminal charges against the abuser. Abuse victims that keep in touch with the abuser after the abuse.
Abuse victims that make decisions like getting married with the abuser after the abuse, or having children with the abuser after the abuse. They're not guilty. These victims are never guilty. They're never to blame because nothing justifies abuse.
But they are responsible. They have a responsibility. They have a contribution to the situation.
So this is a very important distinction.
However, the problem is cultural. The problem is a problem of culture.
I told you a few minutes ago that even in the West, in the most developed countries of the West, domestic violence was considered an internal family matter. Not something for the state. Not something for anyone outside the family. Not even the other families.
No one. It's between husband and wife. Whatever happens. Or between boyfriend and girlfriend. It's an internal matter. And it was not considered criminal because they said that in domestic situations, there is provocation. There are impulses. There are different circumstances. It's not a crime.
So domestic violence was decriminalized philosophically, morally.
And so no one intervened. And no one considered it a serious problem or a problem at all.
And even in many, many societies, it's considered the prerogative of, for example, the men to abuse the woman. It's a right. If the society is patriarchal. In other words, if the society gives the men the privilege and the superiority. If the society expects submissiveness and submissiveness is a part of being a woman, is part of femininity. If society is backward. Or if society has values that are not liberal Western values.
Because there are many societies which have values which are not Western and not liberal. Like, for example, Saudi Arabia.
So in these societies, it's difficult to it's difficult to fight abuse and fight domestic violence effectively. Because they are not only personal issues. They become cultural issues and social issues.
There is a big war, big war between men and women. The situation between men and women today is the worst in all human history. There is a gender war, simply gender war. And it is the result of the change in gender roles in the definition of what it is to be a woman and what it is to be a man and how they are supposed to behave. And also the result of the transfer of power and money from men to women.
Women are becoming more dominant in the West. For example, women are already more dominant than men. They have more academic degrees and they are beginning, they are now equal to men in income.
So there is a change, a shift in power structure. And men are very defensive, very aggressive. Because they want to take women back to the old way. They want women to be their mothers. They want women to be their grandmothers. They don't want the modern women.
Feminism in the West, show business, movies, Hollywood movies, television, internet, they are transforming the role of women all over the world.
So we must consider domestic violence, stalking, killing of women as also, also a cultural, societal, all out war between men and women. And I'm using war, no other word. It's a war.
And so men are violent much more than women. It's a fact. They have testosterone. They're much more aggressive, much more violent. When they fail verbally, when they fail to so-called convince, they act.
Men's, the men's initial instinct is to act. And they're violent.
And so we are seeing this happening a lot.
There is also a dramatic rise in romantic jealousy because women have many more opportunities to be with other men. They have opportunities to be with other men at work. They have opportunities to be with other men on social media.
Women have their private spaces. Not everything the men knows. Women have password on the smartphone.
Yeah. So the men feels excluded. The men feels becomes paranoid. Men are becoming much more paranoid.
We have a series of studies by Twenge and Campbell, two scholars in the United States. And they find that the younger generations are much more narcissistic, much more paranoid, much more anxious and much more depressed. And when I say much more, I mean five times more, much more means a lot more. These are components of mental illness. The population is much more mentally ill than it ever been.
And the conflict between men and women is escalating, absolutely escalating. And so you see it in politics when you have populist leaders like, you know, all over the world, these populist leaders are trying to take the country backwards, not forward, but backward. You have movements to suppress women everywhere. You have online, you have societies, groups of millions of men, millions of men. And they are known as MGTOW and Manosphere. These are men who decided to cut off all contact with women, all contact, and they are angry at women and they hate women. And some of them assassinated, killed women. Some of members of these groups, they were so angry at women that they killed women.
So we have an online presence of millions of women hating men. So we are in a bad time for intergender relationships. And you can't separate, we can't separate.
And say, ah, that's only psychological problem. That's only legal problem. No, it's all together. It's culture. It's a legal problem. It's psychological issues. It's all together.
So when two people meet and they have the right mixture, it explodes. If you have the right chemicals, it explodes. If these two people come from different cultures, if they were educated differently, if one of them is mentally ill and has propensity to be a stalker or an abuser, if the other has tendency to be victim as a personality of a victim, etc.
And then they are in a society where women are rising to the top and men don't like it. They resent it. They're angry.
When you put all this together, it's explosive mix, explosive mix.
Statistically, the statistics in the West is that domestic violence is going down. It's true.
Physical violence is going down.
Verbal violence and emotional violence has never been bigger. Never.
So there is a transition from physical to emotional and verbal and sexual. Sexual assault is also.
So there is a transition in the nature of the violence, but not in the totality of the violence. On the contrary, I think totality is much higher.
Ukraine is not isolated from the world. The world is coming into Ukraine.
And even if you are not aware of any of this, it's in the back of your mind. If you watch television, if you open your smartphone, it's there. You're poisoned. It's toxic. You cannot avoid it.
And these are reflections of the times also, I think.
Don't forget that in the past, when there was domestic violence in a family, the neighbors intervened, the family intervened, the church, the church intervened. There were other structures, not the state, not the law, not legal, but there were community structures. Every woman had good friends. Every woman had a family. Their husband went to church. In the church, there was a priest. The village, they were living in a village. It was a small community. Everyone knew everything. Everyone knew everything about everyone. There was social pressure. There was social sanction if you misbehave. Social sanction. Society exerted control over bad behavior.
Today, we have nothing. We have nothing. We have no church. We have no family. We have no community. Our neighbors don't know our names. We have no real friends. We have nothing. We are atomized.
All the structures of society which helped to control domestic violence. These structures are gone. We don't live in communities anymore. We live in apartments. We are very lonely people.
If a husband tortures his wife, if he beats her up, and finally if he kills her, it takes two months to fight the body. 100 years ago, it would have taken two minutes. Today, it takes two months because we are no longer in bed. We are not in a fabric. We are not in contact. We are floating in space alone. There are no external controls.
This escalates behavior. We know from psychology that when you don't have control from the outside, when you don't have incentives from the outside, and when you don't have the look of other people, when you don't have other people's feedback, other people's input, when all these are missing, behavior escalates, becomes worse and worse, even if you're a good man, even if you're a good person.
Behavior tends to escalate because our behavior is calibrated, controlled, modulated by input from the outside.
We want to do something, and you tell me it's wrong, I will not do it. I want to do something, and the state tells me not to do it, I will not do it. The outside controls our behavior.
If everything is gone, no family, no church, no community, no village, no friends, no nothing, my behavior has no calibration, becomes escalated, including domestic violence. It escalates because there's no feedback.
So you see, it's a very complex issue.
Okay, and I wanted to ask you about victims, why they're under abuse years, months, I don't know, 10 years, for example, and then one day they take the knife and kill the abusers.
And in this case, do these victims have to be in jail? Are they like a typical mother, or it's something different?
Abuses extremely rarely, abuse victims, I'm sorry, extremely rarely eliminate the abuser.
I told you earlier, that abuser and abuse victim, they are very important to each other.
The abuse victim needs the abuser to regulate moods, to control emotions, etc. And the abuser needs the victim to satisfy some needs. So they are collaboration, they're in business together.
Very rarely the victim will kill the abuser.
But when this happens, on very rare occasions, it's because the abuser no longer fulfills any need, but continues to take the price. The abuser continues to abuse, but is no longer fulfilling any need. So it's very common, for example, when the abuser starts to cheat on the victim, when he starts to have other victims. That happens. It happens when the abuser refuses to regulate the victim's emotions and moods, and regulates the victim's self-esteem and self-worth. It happens when the abuser is only negative, never positive.
Because the victim needs ups and downs, she needs positive negative, positive negative, positive negative. This creates the bonding, intermittent reinforcement is called. When the abuser is only negative, the positive part will be missing. It's when the victim misses something, when the abuser doesn't give her something that she needs, psychologically. At that point, the abuser is only an abuser.
And then it's a torture. And then she wants it to stop, because the pain is enormous. And she wants the pain to stop. She doesn't want to eliminate the abuser. She wants to eliminate the frustration and the pain.
Should they be punished is partly legal and partly moral question.
My personal view, and it's only my personal view, I don't think I have advantage here. Anyone can have a view of this.
My personal view is that if she had other options, she should be punished. If she did not have any other options, her punishment should be very symbolic.
When I say other options, I don't just mean physical options. I mean also psychological options. If she's evaluated by a psychiatrist, and it's clear that she could not break up with the abuser, she was conditioned. She is addicted. It's like heroin, like a drug. Her mind was changed. The abuse changed her psychology in a way that made it impossible for her to leave the abuser.
So if she had no choice, physical choice, financial choice, if she was about to lose the children, if she had nowhere to go to, this is where the state can help by providing domestic violence shelters. If she had nowhere to go to, if the abuser threatened her life in case she tries to go away, if the abuser stalked her, if she had previous experiences that she tried to go away and it ended badly, the abuser punished her severely. And if her psychology is such that she could not break with her abuser because the abuser changed her psychology.
If all these conditions are met, she should be symbolically punished.
If, however, she was capable, she had solutions, she had possibilities, she could have chosen a different way, a different alternative, and she chose to kill him as a revenge or because she was angry or whatever, then she should be treated as any murderer. I don't see any distinction. What matters is the lack of choice.
Now, abuse victims can have millions of dollars in the bank. They can be powerful managers in companies. They can have a family of 2,000 people. They can have 700 friends and still they cannot leave the abuser because the psychology, the abuser changed their psychology, created conditioning, created addiction, created an almost fear, created trauma bonding, changed the way the person experiences emotions and moods, changed the way the person thinks.
If the intervention of the abuser in the victim's mind is so extensive and all pervasive, for me, this is prison. She was in mental prison. Never mind what happened outside the prison. She was in the prison.
In that case, also, she should receive symbolic punishment.
And I also wanted to ask you about the difference between victims and survivors.
We have to call the person who were abused a victim or a survivor.
It depends on the person.
Some people like to be victims. Some people, when they're victims, they feel good. It's called the comfort zone. They have a comfort zone of a victim.
To be victim is their identity. To be victim makes them feel special. To be victim is good because they have the moral position. They are morally upright and superior. To be victim makes them feel grandiose because as victims, they are more empathic. They are like angels. Nothing is wrong with them. They're perfect. They're like angels.
Some people are emotionally invested in being a victim. They want to be victims. For them to be victim is a badge of honor. They feel elevated and grandiose and wonderful when they're victims. They form together forums and societies where each one is comparing, I'm more victim than you. No, I'm more victim than you. My abuser was worse. No, I cannot be like my abuser. My abuser is not much worse.
The victimhood dimension of identity. They have developed what I told you earlier, the victimhood construct, tendency for interpersonal victimhood construct.
These people will never stop being a victim. They will seek abusers so as to continue the abuse, so as to continue to be victims.
If the other person refuses to be an abuser, they will force that person to abuse them.
There is a process called projective identification. When they force the other person to abuse them because they feel good only when they're victims. So this is a class of people who are mentally ill. It's a mental pathology.
Most victims are not like that. It's a small group. Most victims are not like that. And whether they're survivors or victims depends only on them.
Surviving is a choice. Surviving is a decision. As long as you don't choose survival, you are a victim because the abuser is in your head. The abuser is inside your head.
Even if the abuser died yesterday, he's in your head forever.
If you listen to this voice, if you listen to the introjected abuser, to the abuser inside your head, you continue the abuse and you continue to be a victim.
To become a survivor means I am not a victim. I'm going to study myself. I'm going to see what I did wrong, what choices were wrong. I'm not going to repeat them. I'm going to recognize my contributions to the situation. I'm going to better myself. I'm going to learn. I'm going to develop tools and coping strategies. And I'm going to move on. And I'm going to ignore the voice of my abuser in my head.
And I do not want to be a victim. To be a victim is demeaning, is humiliating, is bad thing, is pathological thing. These are the survivors. Survivors are people who reject victimhood.
And with a victimhood, they reject the victimizer, the abuser. All people who accept their status as victims, they continue the abuse. They self-abuse. They continue the abuse because as victims, they have the voice of the abuser and they continue the abuse.
And unfortunately, a small group of them are very proud of the victim. And they didn't do anything meaningful in their lives.
So to be a victim is the first creative act. They didn't write a book. They didn't, you know, make a piece of music, but they were victims. And they were good victims. They were accomplished victims. So they're very proud of being a victim. It's like, I'm very good at being a victim.
Finally, something I'm good at, you know? When you identify victimhood with accomplishment, when you identify victimhood with being special, being unique, being perfect, being an angel, nothing's wrong with you. You did nothing wrong, etc.
I mean, these are sentences that are very unhealthy.
Thank you so much. Thank you for this conversation and that you are helping us with our theme. I wish you success. Take care. Thanks.