“He Hit Me in the Head, Choked Me, Then Washed Me and Sexually Assaulted Me” — What a New Study Says

“He would sit down next to me with a knife, say that first I he would cut out my eye, then my throat, that he would make me bleed in front of my children, and tell me how can I not be afraid of this man. I was very afraid.”

“It was the moment of suffocation, the moment of being hit in the head, I told him that God would not forgive him, he took to the bathroom and washed me, to make me normal, after that he sexually assaulted me, I was devastated.”

“My older child was forty days old when I was holding him, and I don’t know what happened, why he got angry and beat me. I will never forget this, I had a child in my arms and he was hitting me. Even now, when I remember, I cry, I had a child in my arms and he was hitting me.”

“When he was violent and hit me and usually made me bleed and then, I will tell you, that he usually had sexual intercourse by force, I am used to violence… I am saying this now in such a way that you can say that this person is crazy, but now I am telling this story freely, because it’s not difficult for me anymore, although it was very difficult for me and I suffered”.

“Physical violence started one month after the wedding. Only in my first pregnancy I did not receive physical abuse, but unfortunately the psychological abuse continued. I asked my husband why he was behaving like that. He said that I acted like this so that you would be afraid of me as a man”.

“The violence was psychological. He used to destroy me psychologically, you are crazy, he would tell me, he would even beat me, he beat me hard because of my lover too.”

“Yes, it started from there, it started from the words […] If he was sitting by himself and I was sitting next to him and I was talking, he would say to me, you brainless, you stupid, everything started from the words: brainless, you are ugly, how do you even look?”

“Everyone knew. My family members knew, neighbors knew, his family knew, everyone knew.”

These are excerpts from interviews with women exposed to violence. According to the national survey of violence against women, which was prepared with the participation of UN Women, Geostat, and WeResearch, half of women in Georgia have experienced at least 1 of 7 forms of violence during their lifetime.

In particular, all seven forms of violence were reflected in the quantitative data as follows:

  • 8.5% of women experienced sexual violence in childhood (up to 18 years old);
  • Approximately every fifth woman experienced physical and/or emotional violence in childhood — 19.7%;
  • 22.9% experienced violence from their partner;
  • 6.5% of women experienced physical violence from a non-partner;
  • Sexual violence by a non-partner — 1.5%;
  • Every fourth woman has experienced sexual harassment — 24.5%;
  • 8.5% of women have experienced harassment.

In addition, 18.2% of women experienced at least one form of violence in the last 12 months.

It is important to note that it is common for women to experience more than one form of violence. In particular, during their lifetime, 25.6% of women experienced only one of the seven forms of violence, and 24.8% experienced more than one.

As a result of violent actions, approximately every fifth woman (19.1%) received a physical injury, and in most cases, the perpetrator was the current/last spouse or partner (85.8%), the previous spouse/partner was named by 12%. It should be noted that the majority of women have been physically injured more than once – 72%.

In the case of approximately 3 out of 4 women, physical trauma was manifested by scratches, cuts, bruises and bruises. Approximately 1 in 3 women had cuts, stings and bites, and cases of much more severe injuries were also identified.

The majority of women say that they did not need medical help as a result of their injuries – 84.7%, although even the part of women who needed medical help (13.7%) did not receive it – 3.4%.

As part of the research, 3300 women and 1104 men aged 15-69 were interviewed.

The situation is even worse for women with functional difficulties — the share of women with functional difficulties who have experienced violence is 54.7% of the total number

"A woman with a disability is perceived as a helpless being who needs double control, that is, not the usual, double, triple, etc., or as a helpless being for whom the men of the family are responsible, or as a potentially unstable being who can damage the reputation of the family And which needs to be controlled again and again, especially, of course, in the case of mental problems", - the story of a disabled woman participating in an in-depth interview emphasizes the quantitative data of various forms of violence.

In particular, they are more prone to sexual abuse in childhood (9.3%) and physical and/or emotional abuse in childhood (22.5%) or violence from a partner (28.2%).

LGBTQI+ people feel excluded from many main segments of society and face discrimination, harassment and violence based on their sexual orientation and gender identity.

In-depth interviews with representatives of LGBTQI+ community revealed that they often experience physical and psychological violence in the family, both in childhood and in adulthood. Some of them also talked about economic violence, when their family restricted their access to financial and other material resources.

“Several times [my brother] got so angry that, he didn’t beat me, but he scared me so much and hit me several times, I don’t call that beating, he caused a lot of stress in me, so much stress that nothing made sense”, – an in-depth interview with an LGBTQI woman.

“I was depressed at the time, and my father used to say that I was mentally broken to get [the power] to control me. That he had more authority in society than me, and my word would mean nothing to society, that they would call me crazy”, – LGBTQ+ woman participating in an in-depth interview.

According to some respondents, during the decision to leave the family, they faced psychological pressure — they were forced to conform to traditional norms of sexual orientation and gender identity.

In the case of ethnic minority women, qualitative research has shown that ethnic minority women in Georgia experience discrimination, harassment and/or violence due to both gender and ethnicity. However, some ethnic minority women are at increased risk of violence due to strict patriarchal cultural norms and traditions that limit their freedoms and life opportunities.

“In our community, let’s say there are families, the attitude towards women is very good, but due to some ideology and religion, a woman does not have […] the [right] to continue studying independently. This is what I am saying, these are single facts, but it is true, a woman does not have the right to go anywhere alone, depending on her profession, some may argue that she cannot work in this profession”, – it is mentioned in an in-depth interview with a woman representing ethnic minorities.

Violence From a Partner

“The police took me to the examination to be examined by a doctor. For some reason, that doctor also avoided me, he stripped me from head to toe, and looked only at the surface bruises that were visible. However, I had bruises on my body in the region of my spine, towards my lungs. He had great physical strength”, says a woman exposed to violence during an in-depth interview. She is one of the 5.9% who have experienced physical violence from their partner. Another respondent mentions that her partner is a policeman, which made her feel isolated — “You know, he’s a policeman and he’s in control of everything, that’s exactly the impression I got, and I had to protect myself again.”

In general, 26.5% of women experienced at least one form of violence from their partner, namely:

  • Physical violence — 5.9%;
  • Sexual violence — 3.5%;
  • Psychological violence — 23.7%;
  • Economic violence — 8.4%;
  • Physical and/or sexual violence — 7.7%;
  • Physical, sexual and/or psychological violence — 24.6%.

“I didn’t say that he sexually assaulted me, after so long I am now saying this,” one of the women said. Those who spoke about experiences of sexual violence by a spouse/partner also noted that sexual violence often occurred alongside physical violence.

The document explains that lifetime partner sexual violence prevalence refers to the percentage of women who have ever been in a partner relationship who said that at least once in their lifetime they were forced to have sex when they did not want it or were forced to perform sexual acts that they didn’t want to.

The lifetime prevalence of sexual violence by a partner was 3.5%, and the current prevalence is 0.5%. The most common acts of intimate partner sexual violence experienced by women were being forced to have sex when they did not want it (2.8%) and having sex against their will because they were afraid that their spouse/partner would hurt them if they refused (1.4%). Among women who had experienced sexual partner violence in their lifetime, 87.1% reported that the perpetrator of sexual violence was their current/last spouse/partner, and 10.6% reported that the perpetrator was their previous spouse/partner.

Women also talk about the violence experienced during pregnancy – “He told me: go, get out of the house, at 4-5 o’clock at night, he threw me out of the house pregnant, because my godmother brought me a letter from my mother, which I read many times and cried with overflowing emotions. He said: why should I listen to your cry? And threw me out”.

During the survey, a total of 1.2% of women reported physical violence during pregnancy.

During the in-depth interviews, the women talked about different forms of economic violence - "He had a problem with this [money], he said, I bring money and you take it away. There is nothing to eat at home. Then when I told him, I will start working, he said, why should you start working? I am a man here and I have to work."
Another respondent says that her spouse/partner did not allow him to manage the money earned by her own work - "He took everything from the house. It was the first time I started working. I didn't even see the money, he took everything and went to a casino".
A case of economic and physical violence was revealed at the same time - "I used to work nights as a babysitter and I really earned this money with my sweat and blood, and I knew that when I came home, he would beat me and take it away."

Economic violence is an action that leads to restriction of the right to food, housing and other conditions of normal development, exercise of property and labor rights, as well as the right to use co-owned property and dispose of one’s share.

When talking about psychological violence, controlling behavior on the part of the partner was highlighted – “he didn’t let my friends, my maid of honor, girlfriends see me, I was directly forbidden not to open the door, as if I was not at home” .

Another woman talks about indirect prohibitions and restrictions — “I have probably seen my closest friends 2-3 times during the entire two years that I was with him. As I said, there was no direct prohibition, but indirectly there were restrictions, that this has to be done at home, who will look after this, who will look after the child, who will take care of me, and so on. I cut off relations with relatives and friends, even at the level of texting them”.

Psychological abuse is intentional behavior that involves significantly disrupting a person’s psychological stability through coercion or threats. This type of abuse involves a range of behaviors that include acts of emotional abuse, controlling behavior, and economic harm.

Consequences and Impact of Violent Acts

Women who have experienced physical and/or sexual violence from their partner rate their general health much more negatively. In particular, 23.2% of women who have experienced violence rate their health as bad or very bad, while the figure for other women is 16.2%. The experience of violence also has a significant impact on the feeling of safety: women who did not experience violence in the last 12 months felt much safer walking alone in their neighborhood (63%) than women who experienced violence during the same period (37.7%).

Research has shown that women who have experienced physical abuse are about twice as likely to have long-term health problems, whether it’s vision impairment, difficulty hearing, or problems with walking, concentration, and memory, among others.

Along with the physical, violent experiences have long-term negative effects on psychological health as well — emotional stress, suicidal thoughts, or suicide attempts are more common. Approximately 3 out of 4 women exposed to violence have at least one type of psychological symptom, more specifically:

  • Anxiety, worrying, feeling of irritation — 68%;
  • Depression — 46.3%;
  • Fear — 46.1%;
  • Insomnia — 41.6%;
  • Feeling of isolation — 38%.

“I tried to kill myself twice, I won’t lie to you. With so much anxiety, I started getting headaches, terrible headaches, and I have a neurosis, a senseless neurosis. If I get upset about something, I can’t stop my legs and hands from moving and I get to the point of crying” — the participant of the in-depth interview, the abused woman, is one of the 8.8% who have attempted suicide, and 16.8% have had suicidal thoughts.

The experience of violence also has a negative economic impact on women, for example, 23.6% lost confidence in their abilities, and 18% could not concentrate at work.

Impact of Violence on Children

"He attacked me aggressively, he was choking me, the children were already screaming at that time. I don't remember what happened, one thing I know is that he was already looking for a knife, saying he would cut your throat like a pig, that he would not spare me... The older boy was shouting, "Mom, run, mom, run". When I looked back, I saw [husband] was chasing me with a knife and this little girl was standing behind me and crying", — an in-depth interview with a woman exposed to violence.

Almost half of the violent cases were attended by children every time – 45.8%, the same part of the children attended once, several times or most of the cases, and in 10% of the cases, the partner also hit and beat the children.

Women talk about the effects that cases of violence had on their children — harmful effects manifested in fear and nervousness (48.9%), anxiety, anger and character problems (31.2%), manifestations of aggressive behavior (13.4%) and others.

Talking About Violence

More than a third of women (38.2%) do not talk about their experiences with violence with anyone.

“Many women are like this, alone like me, there is no hope for anyone. Because the woman dared and escaped, we shouldn’t tell her – where were you for 5 years? On the contrary, we should encourage her, say that she finally dared,” says the victim of violence, who participated in the in-depth interview, and another respondent notes, “Everyone knew. My family members knew, neighbors knew, his family knew, everyone knew.”

Another respondent says that after he decided to take action to escape from violence, he himself was blamed – “In the village, I was accused that my wife had me arrested, and at that time no one asked why. They didn’t understand and everyone blamed me, of course.”

Experiences from in-depth interviews go some way to explaining why women do not use different ways to escape from violent experiences. According to the data, women victims of violence did not seek help because:

  • 44.8% — considered that the situation was not serious enough to complain;
  • 25.2% — did not want to harm the dignity of the family;
  • 15% — did not know/don’t know who to ask to for help;
  • 14% — they were embarrassed, ashamed or afraid that people would not believe them;
  • 10.8% — thought it wouldn’t help/knows it won’t help other women;
  • 6.2% — afraid/feared of threats, consequences or more violence;
  • 5.7% — are afraid of divorce or the end of a relationship;
  • 3.7% — are afraid of losing their children;
  • 3% — thinks/thought that they would be blamed;
  • 2.1% — believe that there is no reason to complain/violence is normal.

Most of the women who tell someone about the violence, share it with a female member of the family in which they were born/raised (42.5%) or a friend/neighbor — 27.6%.

93.2% of women exposed to violence who shared information about their experiences with others were supported; 16.4% were told not to tell anyone, 14.9% were advised to contact the police, 7.5% were shown indifference, and 6.6% were blamed.

Formal Ways of Helping

In the case of physical and sexual violence by a partner, 22.8% of women tried at least one formal way of help. According to the data, the first five that were applied are as follows:

  • Police;
  • Religious figure;
  • Public Safety Management Center — 112;
  • Health care worker;
  • A lawyer or legal aid center.

“We had an argument the other day, he was suffocating me, and he had never acted that badly before, never. He locked the children in the room so that they wouldn’t see all this, and by the way, the older girl got out of the room and that was when I looked death in the eyes, I was very scared because I didn’t want to die, and when children running around you, no matter how bad you feel, you don’t want to die because of your children. I packed my clothes and left,” says the victim of violence, a participant in an in-depth interview. Like her, fear of death was cited by 12.7% as the reason for seeking help, and suffering of children by 26.4%. 8.4% said that the reason was the threat or beating of children.

In addition, 63.5% of women who sought help did so because they couldn’t take it anymore, 12.5% ​​reported death threats or attempts, and 10% said they knew that violence in a relationship was unacceptable and it was The reason for the decision. 5.2% cited being kicked out of the house, 4.7% said others advised/encouraged them to seek help.

24.6% of respondents applied for a restraining order to the police or tried to, and 14.4% applied to the court for a protective order.

59.4% of women who experienced violence never left home due to violence from their spouse/partner. And 74% of women who left home left more than once (2-15).

82.3% of women who left home during the last incident could not take it anymore, and 9.1% left on the advice of friends or family members. 6.2% said they did it because they saw children suffering. Besides:

  • Was kicked out of the house — 5.6%;
  • Spouse/partner threatened to kill or was planning to kill — 4.1%;
  • Spouse/partner threatened or beat children — 2.4%;
  • Was afraid that his spouse/partner would kill him — 2.7%;
  • Without a specific reason — 2.4%.

Violence From a Non-partner

As for violence from a non-partner, 6.5% of respondents experienced physical violence. Among women who have experienced physical violence from a non-partner in their lifetime, one in four women (25%) report that the abuser

Was a friend, 17.1% — a mother or stepmother, 11.9% — a brother or sister, 11.3% — a teacher, 10.4% — a completely unknown person and 17.1% — another person (not those listed).

Among women who experienced physical violence from a non-partner after the age of 15, about half did not tell anyone about the abuse, with two out of five women (39.5%) most often telling a female member of their family (in which they were born/raised). A much smaller number of women reported that they had told a male member of their family (in which they were born/raised) (14.3%) or a friend/neighbor (10.6%) about the incident.

84.9% of women who decided to tell someone about their experience were given support. Only 15% of women reported that family members, friends and/or neighbors advised them to go to the police. 13.7% of women said that family members, friends and/or neighbors showed indifference or lack of interest, 9% of women blamed themselves for the violence against them, and 5.3% were advised not to tell anyone about what happened.

Regarding sexual violence by a non-partner, 1.5% of women aged 15-69 say they have experienced sexual violence by a non-partner in their lifetime. Among them, attempt of an unwanted and forced intercourse, forced intercourse, and some women said they were forced to have intercourse while in a state of intoxication. Half of women report that they have not told anyone about their experience of sexual violence from a non-partner.

Sexual Abuse of Children

The document mentions that sexual violence against children was also assessed within the scope of the study. Specifically, female respondents were asked about their experiences of sexual abuse before age 18 — whether someone touched them sexually against their will or forced them to do something sexual they didn’t want to do.

Due to the special sensitivity of the mentioned question, the respondents were given a card with happy and sad faces. The respondent was asked to covertly mark a sad face if, before the age of 18, someone had touched them sexually against their will or forced them to do something sexual that they did not want. And if this has never happened, to pick a happy face. Respondents were also asked to fold and place the card in an envelope. To measure sexual violence against children, this method is considered a good practice based on the 2017 National Survey on Violence against Women and other studies on violence against women and girls,” the document states.

According to the results, 8.5% of women reported that before the age of 18 they had experienced sexual violence, namely someone touching them sexually against their will or forcing them to do something sexual that they did not want to do. In the case of women aged 15-24, the rate of experience of sexual violence was higher (13.5%) than in older age groups.

Research results indicate that childhood sexual abuse increases the risk of future abuse.

Sexual Harassment

Sexual harassment is unwanted verbal, non-verbal or physical behavior of a sexual nature that violates the principle of equal treatment between women and men and is therefore recognized as a form of discrimination and sexual violence against women and girls.
Sexual harassment may include unwanted/unpleasant touching, hugging or kissing, sexual comments and jokes, questions about your personal life, comments about your appearance, sending sexual photos, gifts or exposure of your body, sending emails, unwanted online communication.

24.5% of women experienced some type of sexual harassment at least once in their life. The most common forms of sexual harassment are inappropriate, persistent looks (15.2%), questions about personal life (10.1%), comments about appearance (7.5%), inappropriate comments on social networks (7.2%), touching (6.3%), and sexual comments and jokes ( 6.1).

In most cases, sexual harassment is carried out by strangers – 55.9%, followed by neighbors (9.4%), new acquaintances (9.3%), friends (7.8%).

8.6% of respondents experienced sexual harassment before the age of 15, 9.2% both before and after 15 years. 24.5% experienced sexual harassment under the age of 18, and 14.8% both before the age of 18 and in adulthood.

The majority of women reported that they were sexually harassed on the street, alley or path (41.2%) or on public transport (28%). Women also reported that sexual harassment took place at school/university, workplace, the respondent’s or another person’s home or yard, and other public spaces.

The study also shows the relationship between sexual harassment and other forms of violence. For example, women who experienced physical, emotional, and/or sexual abuse before the age of 18 are almost twice as likely to experience sexual harassment in their lifetime than those who did not experience similar childhood experiences.


The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe defines stalking as “multiple acts of intrusion into a person’s life, the intensity of which increases over time.” There are many forms of stalking, including cyberstalking, and it can cause stress, anxiety or fear. Stalking is a form of violence that can lead to other forms of violence. According to Article 151 of the Criminal Code of Georgia, stalking is punishable by a fine or community service for a period of one hundred and twenty to one hundred and eighty hours, or imprisonment for a term of two years, in case of aggravating circumstances, imprisonment for a period of two to five years.

8.5% of women in Georgia have experienced harassment in their lifetime. The most common cases of stalking are:

  • Repeated wandering or waiting near home, workplace or school — 4.2%;
  • Repeated following or watching — 4.1%;
  • Repeated sending of unwanted letters, postcards or gifts — 2.4%.

The majority of perpetrators — 89% are men, 39% are complete strangers to the victim, 26.7% are someone else they know, 9.5% are current/ex-spouse or partner, 7.3% are schoolmates, and 7.2% are neighbors.

37.3% experienced stalking before the age of 18, 12.3% both before and after the age of 18, and half of the respondents only in adulthood.

Gender Roles and Violence Against Women — What Respondents Think

Compared to 2017 data, there is a slight improvement in perceptions of gender roles. In particular, 59.9% of the interviewed women believe that the most important role of a woman is taking care of the family, in 2017, 65.8% thought the same. In addition, according to 20.2%, the wife should agree or obey her husband’s opinion even when she is not sure of its correctness or does not agree at all. In 2017, the rate was 22.7%. In addition, 55.1% of women think that a man should control and lead the family.

The results of the men’s survey show a worse situation:

  • Three out of four men believe that the most important role of a woman is taking care of the family — 74.7% (3.3% less than the result of 2017);
  • More than a third of men believe that the wife should agree or obey her husband’s opinion even when she is not sure of its correctness or does not agree at all – 37.3% (the mentioned figure decreased by 4.6%);
  • 77.6% of men believe that a man should control and lead the family.

It should be noted that, according to the research, when talking about gender and gender roles in focus groups, men often used conservative ideas and language, which were related to religion.

"When there is respect in the family, there cannot be equality. For me, equality as a word is unacceptable, but when a woman knows, when she is a Christian and everything goes according to the Lord's will, we are Christians. If the head of a woman is a man and the head of a man is Christ, then everything will be fine", — a focus group participant, a man over 30 years old.

There is also an improvement compared to 2017 in attitudes towards pro-violence.

In the focus group, there were some opinions that if a husband abused his wife, it was the victim’s fault. A little more than 8% of men and women surveyed think so.

“A woman may be the cause of violence against herself. To verbally bring a man to abuse, to irritate you with his words and his behavior. […] If the woman didn’t invite you, why should you harass her for no reason? There are situations, and a woman is more violent in those situations, I think”, — a man living in a village, 18-29 years old, participating in the focus group.

According to a survey of women:

  • 21.4% of the interviewed women believe that violence is a private affair of husband and wife and no one else should interfere (in 2017, 32.7% thought so);
  • According to 17.4% of women, a woman cannot refuse her husband sexual intercourse (25.1% thought so in 2017);
  • 9.8% believe that a woman should tolerate violence in order to keep her family (in the previous result, the rate was 12%);
  • 10.6% believe that a woman should be ashamed and embarrassed to talk about her husband’s physical harm and control;
  • According to 8.5% of respondents, if a woman is beaten by her husband, the woman herself is partially or fully to blame.

The survey of men also shows a worse result, although the dynamics of reduction:

  • The number of men who believe that violence between husband and wife is their personal matter and no one else should interfere has decreased by 12.5% ​​to 37.2%;
  • The number of men who believe that a woman cannot refuse her husband sexual intercourse has decreased by 6.9% and is 20.3%;
  • The number of men who think that a woman should endure violence in order to maintain a family has decreased by 9.1%. Currently, 15.1% think so;
  • According to 16.2% of men, a woman should be ashamed, embarrassed to talk about her husband’s physical harm, control;
  • 8.3% of respondents believe that if a woman is beaten by her husband, the woman herself is partially or fully to blame.

According to the majority of interviewed women, domestic violence against women (77.6%), sexual violence or rape against women and girls (68.2%) and sexual harassment against women (64.1%) are big problems.

About a third of men believe that the mentioned three problems are average in Georgia. These issues are considered to be big problems:

  • Domestic violence against women — 57.5% of men;
  • Sexual violence or rape against women and girls — 51.2% of men;
  • Sexual harassment of women — 43.7% of men.

A large majority of both women and men, more than 80%, believe that laws that protect women and girls from domestic violence, sexual assault and rape are very important.

“For women in my situation, it is very important to broadcast information on television that violence cannot be tolerated, if you are abused, you can call this and that number, the state protects you, the system protects you, this information must be spread, people must listen to it on television every day,” says a woman exposed to violence during an in-depth interview. The results of the quantitative research also show that the lack of information is a challenge.

Women have inadequate information about existing initiatives to help women and girls who are victims of violence: 65.1% know about the existence of a shelter, half (50.1%) know about a hotline, 34.4% have information about a crisis center, and about the national campaign to end domestic violence 16.8% know.

If you are being abused or have information about someone else being abused, you can contact the police.

Free, 24-hour hotline. You can request anonymity — 112

Hotline, which operates to provide advisory services to citizens — 116 006

Sapari  — 599 407 603, 0322 30 76 03

Anti-Violence Network of Georgia  – 032 272 67 17

Center for Psychosocial and Medical Rehabilitation of Torture Victims (GCRT)  – 032 222 06 89;

In addition, you can download the 112 application and the Sapari application (Safe you) on your mobile phone. Both of them have an SOS button, as well as other important features that allow you to track your location, record the voice of the abuser, etc.