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Victoria Lintsova: “Behind every woman who takes drugs, there is a history of violence”

Victoria Lintsova, a Ukrainian activist of the Eurasian Network of People Who Use Drugs (ENPUD), appealed on her Facebook page to all women with drug using experience to share their personal stories, and not be afraid to talk about the experience of violence that many of them have experienced.

Among the reasons for such an initiative, Victoria Lintsova cites the desire to overcome common stereotypes that women start taking drugs on a whim. “In fact, almost every woman who uses drugs has a history of psychological abuse or trauma behind her. I am sure that the stories of our lives told by us are the best way to influence the attitude towards us and convey the truth.” Of this, Lintsova is sure.

On her Facebook page, Lintsova writes: “Violence against women and shaming them for having been abused is a common situation around the world and contributes to the spread of HIV infection. Physical and sexual abuse experienced in childhood, adolescence or young age, as well as post-traumatic disorders associated with these traumas, become risk factors for drug and alcohol abuse among women. The same mechanisms are triggered by family and domestic violence, increased demands on girls and women in the family, and the inability to meet these requirements. This undermines self-esteem and increases pain and alienation … Injuries and the associated unbearable pain – makes you look for ways to get rid of it, and the chemicals here “come to the rescue.”

The activist is sure that additional pressure on women is created by stereotypes of ideas about the traditional female role in society, their impact on the minds of women who already have a problem of using – increases the problem of low self-esteem and forms an unbearable feeling of guilt and shame, as a result of which it becomes even more difficult for women who use women’s social roles, it is especially difficult to take care of children. Moreover, social stereotypes suggest that a man who uses drugs is just a bad father, while a woman who uses drugs is a social criminal who is unworthy of her children…

Other “female” risk factors for addiction:

  • Sexual partners who use drugs for whom women have an emotional and/or sexual attachment,
  • Physiology: tolerance to opioids increases faster in women, and not only single doses of the drug used, but also the daily frequency of administration increase. The period of formation of withdrawal syndrome in women is more than 2 times shorter than in men,
  • Inability to seek help (disclosure of status will lead to aggravation of problems / it is impossible to undergo treatment or rehabilitation due to the fact that children are at home who have no one to leave to / it is difficult to overcome shame or find means to pay for treatment or rehabilitation services, etc.).

Elena’s personal story:

As a child, I had a constant, unpleasant feeling for me that I was not like everyone else. It was not like other girls, I felt insecure and weak because of this … I had to go through the first experience of sexual violence in another city, at the age of 13 during the winter holidays I went with my peers on a New Year’s excursion to St. was Leningrad). It was a lot of fun at first, we lived in some kind of hotel, more like a hostel, went to dine in a restaurant, looked at architectural monuments. Then for the first time I started to paint my lips and wear bright earrings. He sat down with me on the subway, he looked about 25 years old. In the second minute of the conversation, she gave the address of the hotel. In the evening he arrived. One of the girls called me to the landing, it turned out that the upper floors were uninhabited there, some kind of repair … He took out a huge knife and I, frightened, followed him… He said in such a calm and cold voice that he now had a wife in the maternity hospital and began to take off my clothes… Under my skirt I had panties with a children’s pattern, in some kind of green frogs. ..When I returned to my room, my three neighbors looked at me in such a way that I felt unbearable shame. I lied to them that I managed to escape before he could do something to me. And for almost thirty years, no one except me and him knew about this story … How did he manage to do something to me? And for almost thirty years, no one except me and him knew about this story … How did he manage to do something to me? And for almost thirty years, no one except me and him knew about this story …

Six months later, in the village, I went to a disco club with a cousin of the same age. One of his acquaintances poured me half a glass of vodka, and I drank it. Then I already remember how he dragged me to a dark rural school at night and beat me in the face. I cried a lot and asked to be let go… I returned late at night and thought about how to live until the morning… Resentment and shame burned my soul. .”. I so wanted to forget these stories, but I could not. And I didn’t understand why it was so restless and painful inside. My first marriage was very early, but it seemed that it was for love. My husband was pathologically jealous and often beat me, accused me of being an inferior woman because I did not enjoy sex, but convinced me that I was obliged to have sex with him … After 2 years, a divorce. A year after the divorce, the first injection. Drugs removed this excruciating background pain. But without them it was painful and scary to go crazy …

Women who are willing to share their personal stories can contact the Women’s Action Group of the ENPUD Network.

To discuss the problems of violence against women who use drugs, you can connect to the thematic e-mail mailing list by submitting an application for connection to the zhun-eeca mailing list to its moderator Alena Asaeva at  alena.asaeva (at) gmail.com

Women’s stories will be published in a separate section of the ENPUD website.

Also, one of the strategic tasks that activists of the women’s movement set themselves within the framework of ENPUD is to include the problems and needs of women who use drugs on the agenda of the organization.

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