ABOUT MY WHISPERS OF HORROR
Women search for happiness no matter where they live. They want to
build a life, family, career in order to insure a wholesome future. But
in much of the world the patriarchal cultures women are born into simply
nip at a woman’s potential and brutally guards the slave-like position
that women occupy.
Women struggle as they are bought and sold as property. Their
inheritance of an unequal and corrupt system that works against them.
All while being enforced by domestic violence which women must deal with
These issues, and so much more, are addressed by the voices of real
women in ex-USSR nations. We included anonymous letters that will touch
and terrify you on a personal level, while learning what women still
have to deal with today.
ABOUT BRINE BOOKS
We are an activist publishing company established as a
partnership by a husband and wife in Ontario, Canada. The mission of this
business is bring awareness for serious human rights issues around the world,
while raising funds to expand our capabilities and to help fund non-profits and
charities whose purpose is to better the world.
Our main purpose as a company is to find ways to better the
world. We feel that if we fail in this mission then we fail as a business, so
we will not give up on our goal. The release of our books and the profits that
we raise are meant for this very purpose.
The screams of many women
around the world are often forced into nearly silent whispers. But if one
listens closely enough, one can hear the horrors these whispers behold. Many
women are screaming through these hushed voices every single day, often due to
the bloodied hands of their own husband, or even father.
This is an extremely
significant issue that continuously pervades all around us today. It is within
our neighbor’s home, potentially a family member’s residence, and everywhere
else all around the world. It is still a significant problem within western
society, but it is nothing compared to the rest of the world. If we want our
women to be safe and not live under oppression, then we are required to combat
it everywhere. Not only here, but in other parts of the world as well.
This book is about her, my,
and even your “personal problems.” Or perhaps, they are not so personal?
Interesting, because women need to realize this is an issue for them as a
whole, and men must take notice that it is something rotten within society.
Today it is your neighbor, but tomorrow it may end up being your daughter. So
maybe it is time to turn back, see what is wrong, and find the right path for
This book is about something
that everybody knows about, and yet some of us appear to still be in some kind
of blissful denial. Something many of us see on a daily basis, but would prefer
to be ignorant about. In the ex-USSR countries, the issue has such deep roots
that to dig it out will take a long time and a substantial amount of effort.
This issue is so significant and prevalent that when brought to the surface the
resulting shock will knock you over. But of course you must keep quiet about
it, or else…
Only, we don’t want to keep quiet.
Sorry, but we won’t shut up. Not
today, and not ever. We still have
our sympathy and our compassion, along with what is vitally important: our
understanding that this is not right.
In Eastern countries, the
word woman has so often been associated with a lack of rights, with oppression
and abuse as if intertwined with cultural traditions. But what kind of decent
culture oppresses women with traditions such as these?
The unequal beliefs that a
woman shouldn’t receive adequate support from the government, where a husband
can abuse her emotionally, fiscally, and physically while controlling her every
move and decision! Basically, she lives a life of everlasting work, abuse,
experiencing slut-shaming, having him decide everything about her body in
regards to abortion or anything else. Welcome back, knitting needles and coat
hangers! But of course if she were to protest, then he can easily shut her
mouth thanks to the male privileges society bestows upon him.
It is the Slavic nations
where men believe they have found the answer to the eternal question ‘What is
the purpose of her life?’ The answer: it must be to serve men, raise children,
and restrict her spiritual growth within the kitchen. Women must be domesticated
and preserved, as if they are nothing more than trained mutts. Equality,
respect, and equal opportunities? Forget about it.
As you will read within the
letters of this book, this reality has gradually stifled many women’s spirits.
It is for this reason we contacted women from a part of the world that we
understand well—the ex-Soviet region. We have family that still live in Russia
and Ukraine, which provides us with a certain understanding of all these women
encaged within their own private little hell.
So we collected a series of
letters from women from across both countries, in which they express the
problems that they face every day. Anything from employment issues to domestic
problems, although of course the majority of the focus is on the abuse the
women receive day to day. Employment issues, while important, are not the focus
of this book, rather the book focusses on issues such as human trafficking,
domestic violence, rape, and child abuse.
What do we aim to do with all
of this? Of course to raise awareness, but also to raise funds for non-profit
organizations that help with human rights abuses around the world. With this
book, we are particularly hoping to raise funds for a specific organization
within Cherkassy, Ukraine called the “Young Cherkassy Region Coalition,” an
organization that helps women battered down by the society and culture around
them. We have looked into the Coalition and are
certain they are doing well in regards to their help of women, which is why we
are pleased to partner with them.
There was a strong desire to
focus on the troubling issue of gender inequality within Russia and Ukraine.
While this isn’t exactly the most positive of books, it is our belief that it
is vital that awareness is raised concerning what women go through. Naturally,
these are not positive stories, highlighting just how many of the world’s women
are persecuted, both within and outside ex-USSR countries. Not exactly rosy
Women are often equated to
being nothing better than child bearers and housewives, and that there is
nothing more important for them to aspire to in their lives. Women are told to
be subservient to their men, instead of being a partner in life. None of this
It is our hope that you walk
away from reading these letters with a better understanding of the problems
that Russian and Ukrainian women face. And it is our hope that more can be done
once enough people know about what these women face.
To help provide more facts on
the issue, we have also included our own letters at the beginning of this book.
Please keep this information in mind while reading the letters, as it will help
in understanding why a woman cannot just pick up everything and leave.
Unfortunately it isn’t so simple.
Across much of the world,
there is this strange way of thinking that in cases of domestic abuse and
women’s issues it is best to keep quiet. Well, we refuse to keep quiet. We are,
in fact, choosing to shout from the rooftops about as many issues as we can.
Hopefully, many ears will hear us join these women’s screams. Then we can
finally do something to save our wives, mothers, daughters, and all of the
other forgotten and beaten down women.
My name is Valentina. I have
three children and am currently living safely in Germany. While waiting for my
next interview with the government, my hope is that luck will finally smile
upon me so that I can receive permanent residency.
I would like to tell you the
story about my life. Possibly it will help you in figuring out what to do in
your own. Perhaps it will help you figure out how to change these strange
sexist stereotypes. Or maybe it will at least help you to change the habits or
fears in which we live and with which we struggle that make a terrifying hell
out of a woman’s life.
The most disgusting part is
that we are nurturing children into this despicable life. We educate them so
that they will share the same future while duplicating our fears, similar
misunderstandings, and the same indoctrinated values. So as a result, we will
end up raising even more victims that are, of course, mostly women and
children. But this is about my own story not theirs. And my own life story
begins in the central part of Ukraine.
I was brought up by my
father, who was a construction worker, and by my mother who was a milkmaid.
They raised three girls along with our older brother. My father, despite being
a hard worker, was an alcoholic. Honestly, in the beginning he didn’t drink a
lot, but eventually he was drinking all the time. Drinking a ton of alcohol
appeared to be a tradition for Ukrainian men, although I have no idea why it is
this way. To be an old man in Ukraine it was expected to drink, and to live in
a smaller village it was thought that they needed to drink a significant amount
of liquor. It is a very strange way of thinking.
He was often jealous of my
mother over nearly everybody and everything. It wouldn’t take much to set him
off and the result was always the same. My mom was often walking around covered
with bruises, her head held low, a depressed-like state in her eyes.
But in truth, the real horror
didn’t introduce itself until my brother had moved away to study in another
city. This left us without anyone in the role of our bodyguard. By then I had
reached the age of seventeen, with my youngest sister only nine.
A horrific event occurred on
the fateful day my sisters and I returned home from our Easter holiday. We had
left to exchange presents with our relatives as is our cultural tradition. Upon
our return home, we were greeted with only silence at our front door. We
knocked and called out for our parents. Yet nobody came to greet us. All that
was heard was the sound of our fists against the door and our cries on the
front steps. Otherwise, there was nothing.
For a long time we had sat
near those stairs to our home while waiting for our mother. We thought maybe
Mom was hiding somewhere from our drunk father; we had a nice home in the
village with a large garden where we could have easily missed her. We all
agreed to wait for her. But we sat there until the sun began to set. So then
afterward, out of concern over the situation, we decided to ask our neighbors
for assistance. We asked for help to maybe break down the door, or at the very
least break a window, so that then finally we could be home and find out what
was going on. But the neighbors understood my father’s temper, including how he
was the very opposite definition of calm. They said no. Nobody would help us.
So with no idea what we should do, we cried.
Finally, though, we had found
a phone so we could at least call the police. It took a few hours but they
responded to our request for help, breaking down the door to our home. And then
this was our moment of terror!
Lying in her own blood was
our mother. Above her, was our alcoholic father dangling with a noose around
his neck. The police explained to us that he had kicked her until her liver,
spleen, and many other organs gave out. Then he decided to take his own life in
reaction. So this is the story how, during the Easter holidays, we became
Mind you, one of the worst
parts of all of this was what the police themselves were saying. “Why didn’t
she just leave him? He probably was a schizophrenic. It is almost as if she was
asking for this!” These words angered me as I knew very well it wasn’t true.
She had tried to save us from him many, many times. But it didn’t matter who we
went to, be it neighbors or friends. Nobody wanted to help us, so as a result
we were always left with returning home. Everyone was afraid that out father
would take revenge, and to them our situation was normal. Also, many witnesses
to the violence toward his wife and children told our mother crazy things,
“You must stand it because you are a woman.”
“It is your destiny!”
“If he is hitting you at all, it means that he loves you.”
“Who else will take care of a woman with four children?”
“You will die of hunger alone.”
“Nobody needs you.”
“Nobody could be interested in you as a woman.”
When I was nineteen, I
finally got married. He was a very quiet boy with absolutely no
self-confidence. It was noticed right away that there was something wrong with
him. Even so, I was happy that he appeared to be the complete opposite of what
I had seen in my father while growing up. Plus, on hearing about my history he
had promised he would never touch me, not even with a single finger.
Then I gave birth to our
daughter. While I was still in the hospital he was drinking a boatload of
alcohol during the week I was away. And he didn’t stop. He was confident that I
couldn’t run anywhere as we now had a small child. So this drunken boat never
had a cork put in it. He also told me at last that before me he always drank
like this. That is, he was drinking until he finally realized he needed a family,
which forced him to only sober up until he had the protection of a young child.
But it wasn’t enough
protection for him. I went to court and applied for a divorce. So then all of
my neighbors were looking at me like I was the devil, as it was strange thought
that one should leave her husband. We had a small baby, we were only married
very recently; so then no matter what, there was the expectation to stay with
this man. I became the outcast of the village. Not him—me.
Lesbianism is a crime in
itself in traditional Russian village life. To be somebody’s perfectly
eligible, family pride-inheriting daughter who identifies as a lesbian is
considered to be like Satan’s right-hand lover. And if I am his lover, Satan
took the form of a girl named Marina. Yes, I succumbed to Satan: “he” happened
to be my one true love, and my entire world. And I must be quite addicted to
this senseless evil I am carrying out while living in a world of hellfire and
devil’s horns, because I can’t possibly imagine living without this woman. What
would rouse the most shock and horror from others is stating that it actually
isn’t all that different from a man and woman being in love. Imagine that!
At thirty-two, I live in
Moscow now. Though it seems that the world of Satan would be miserable (at
least to the outside world), it’s actually quite magnificent. It’s
invigorating, romantic, satisfying—that’s just what Marina and I have when
we’re together. And the only real trail of pain in this satanic world of mine only
lies behind my hometown we left behind. Our sin was too great to bear for them,
the only real hellish aspect of my evil world. Memories of old, smiling faces
become twisted in disgust and damnation, tainted with consequence and the
connotations of what I’d sacrificed. Yet, my sacrifice and Marina’s sacrifice
was simply for the ones we love—each other.
My life would be a fleeting
and beautifully simple normalcy had Marina been granted male anatomy—why is
that? Regardless of my private actions, I would be considered healthy, one to
carry integrity and dignity, and pure with a man by my side. Heaven would be
easily in sight! But Marina is not a man, therefore I’m automatically tossed
into the flaming pits of hell, and I am a symbol of shame, regret, and failure
for my parents. Worse—I no longer exist. My value as a woman is dependent on a
man’s love; therefore I am faceless, valueless…dead.
Four months: the longest
relationship I’d ever had with a man, as of five years ago. Four measly
months—you can imagine it hadn’t worked out very well. Four months of
emptiness; what the two of us had (or lack thereof!) felt like a farce, a
soulless front. I pranced with a plastered-on smile throughout life, fulfilling
the ignorance and conformity that is “normalcy.” During those four measly
months and in other involvements with men, this “normalcy” didn’t cause me to
swoon with dreamy images of marriage and happiness. Who did swoon with these
images of grandeur, however, was my mother.
“She’s finally found her
future husband!” she’d say of that four-month farce. By this time, she’d told
everyone including our neighbors! He was tall, dark, and handsome; muscular,
handy around the house, and had an amazing job—the ideal recipe for a
financially and socially comfortable life for the perfect, obedient, successful
wife and daughter. Blah, blah, blah! None of that talk ever considered what I
wanted. She didn’t care. It’s possible that she’d internally acknowledged my
unusual attractions, that dark hole in my soul void of “normalcy.” Maybe she
was excited that I could end up with a man after all. Maybe she was excited
that I could be saved.
In my experience, feeling
normal apparently doesn’t equate to fulfilling what the world expects of you to
be considered “normal.” I’ll tell you why—of all things, that relationship was
the most abnormal feeling I’d ever had! Even walking beside him, I felt
uncomfortable. Walking in front of him or behind him had connotations of
inequality; what kind of couple were we? And we did try to make it work, but it
was like fitting puzzle pieces together that did not belong. It felt wrong,
unnatural! My balance of being, my sense of fitting into place…it was
corrupted, and I often cried myself to sleep. Yet, there was no option for me
but to try. In our country, it’s almost entirely considered unnatural to be a
homosexual. And if such tendencies were out in the open, this type of love
could very well receive responses that are disheartening, dehumanizing,
dangerous…perhaps even deadly.
And then, it happened. Satan
had come to sweep me away from the dark world! Or rather, a woman named Marina;
the very opposite of the devil, in fact. A vision of perfection, true beauty!
Upon getting to know her, for once I felt at peace; my love felt natural. And
just as in heterosexual relationships, it didn’t take long for the chemistry to
take wing—I quickly learned she felt the same way I felt about her. My world
was spun in the right direction, and I had found my true happiness. My
everything! My soul mate, whose essence could put me to sleep without sobbing
and made me feel as though all was right in the world.
Just like my four-month
relationship being a farce, keeping the relationship between Marina and I quiet
felt like a farce as well. Though we’d initially decided to remain silent,
living a lie and not being able to freely express our love was a hindrance. At
this point, I’d already ended the relationship with my old boyfriend. My poor
mother was downright devastated—it was as though he was her own son! Like she’d
loved him more, or at least the peace of mind he brought.
We decided to approach my
parents first. How did it go? Well, to say “it didn’t go well,” would be like
saying the genocide in Rwanda “didn’t go well.” An odd comparison, but on an
emotional level for me, it was unimaginably traumatizing and destructive. The
explosions, the lines immediately drawn between and against the family. How
quickly and unforgivingly relationships, memories, and commitments were
broken—it was as though a vacuum had sucked it all away from my body. My entire
soul, scared out of its wits and having succumbed into the swirling void of
hatred and ignorance.
Throughout my young life, I
never really wanted much—I’ve always liked it simple. There were three things
at that point I desired in earnest: One, I wanted to marry Marina and live the
rest of my life by her side. Two, I wanted to raise three beautiful adopted
children. And three, I wanted to remain in close contact with my parents,
carrying out a continued inclusive and “normal” relationship. I’d never done
drugs, never hurt anyone, nor taken advantage of them—I was never greedy or
malicious. However, for my parents finding out they now had a “hell-raising”
lesbian daughter on their hands was hardly comforting for such traditional
minds. Even so, I hoped they’d wish for me to just be happy. My dream life
wasn’t ideally “normal,” but it wasn’t harmful. Why couldn’t I just be happy?
I soon found that the
happiness I wanted would come with a price. I’d not only lose my parents’
acceptance, love, and support but also apparently rot in the flaming pits of
hell with “that” satanic woman. My mother first attempted to calmly sit me
down. She scolded me, bartered with me, and assured me—I was a child all over
again. “If you don’t find an ideal partner by your age…when you are nearing
your thirties…it doesn’t mean that you like girls. You know, I know a few
friends that have single sons. Good boys too. They don’t drink too much either.
I can show you that this is just a temporary hobby of yours. Don’t worry, you
can find a man! You will not be an old maid.”
What did it mean that I was
thirty and hadn’t found a partner? And why would I be an old maid? I had plans!
Marina and I were now conceptualizing a life together. My relationship with her
wasn’t a fleeting, useless fling to cope with my failure with men, but a
commitment! I just wanted nothing more but to share that with my parents. And
to my greatest hopes and dreams, the plans to finally settle down and revel in
my greatest salvation of love…They laughed.
And when they stopped
laughing, they told me it was an illness. “You must be sick!” they said, and
vaguely that they could find me some place through the church that could cure
me of this habit. But even if I were sick, I didn’t want the cure—I didn’t wish
to be with a man. What I was doing felt right for me; it felt important.
Realizing their failure, my
parents snapped. My father especially—he called me a “dirty whore,” selfish,
that I blamed my issues on my family with no self-responsibility. And since
lesbianism wasn’t a natural human tendency, I must have chosen to do it because
I was spoilt too much. He should have beaten me when I was younger, he said.
I want to first thank you for
providing this outlet for us women to speak. In my part of the world it is
often complicated when a woman reaches out for any kind of help. When we, as
women, reach out toward those around us after going through the kind of thing I
did, often there is only silence. But of course, when men see these women, it
is perfectly okay to still welcome them in! But for the women to be even forced
into anything apparently sinful, then they are damned to hell.
Even the court system will
often not provide any kind of justice for a woman. Even though my situation was
one of the greatest horrors that a woman can face, they didn’t help me a whole
lot either. And yet, it is a real problem here in Russia, but my own government
care neither about my plight nor that of any other woman that experience the
Little do many men seem to
understand: when you buy a prostitute you’re not actually paying her. You’re
paying the pimp to bring in more slaves for his sexual prison called
“prostitution.” Many women are not there by choice. Whether they were being
tricked through a promising career option overseas, or through being sold by a
friend of your family, they are often forced into it under threat of
death—either theirs or their family’s back home. They’re also often beaten and
tortured into such a submissive state that many of these rapist purchasers of
women do not know that they are in fact participating in perpetual rape. For
those that do know what they are doing though, well, it makes their act of
payment that much more despicable. The money they pay to these women is never
kept by the women; it’s handed to the pimp either under threat or the
suggestion that they have an endless debt for repayment.
I was one of these
unfortunate sexually enslaved victims.
My life started out not being
so bad, though I was growing into the typical victim, even if I didn’t know it.
My childhood was rather happy, though. Even in my adulthood my life was that of
a young beautiful housewife with a newly born baby girl, whose father seemed a
decent man. A good man is difficult to find in my part of the world and even
harder in our village. We understood this, seeing the men enjoying drinking
significant amounts of liquor, before then beating their wives.
So, I counted myself fortunate
that he chose to resolve differences with discussion rather than fists, and
treat his depression with comfort from me rather than vodka. And best of all,
he always tried to be an active part of our child’s life, despite his endless
work hours. That is, endless work hours until he lost his job with no
My husband was having very
little luck finding work. I ended up noticing an advertisement in the paper for
a job that was available though. It was out of the country for a year of touristic
work, and was for the level of pay a westerner usually receives. For a young
Russian family out of work, it sounded like an amazing opportunity. But this
touristic job was specifically looking for young hard-working women. So after
much discussion with my husband, along with comfort for his inability to
provide at the time, we decided that I would apply.
The interview seemed mostly
typical and standard. They asked me about my experience in the service sector,
which included jobs waitressing and volunteering at the local museum. They had
asked me questions on how I’d handle various difficult situations. I did find
it a bit odd, though, that they also asked me some rather personal questions
about my marriage and child, thrown in here and there. But they appeared, at
the time, to be minor, and I had thought nothing of it during this interview.
Perhaps I was naive or stupid.
But looking back, I now know
it was a warning sign. They were trying to analyze me to see if I would be the
perfect little victim for their web of deceit and rape. And unfortunately, I
fit into their perfect little picture. They offered me the job on the spot.
While I was reluctant to
leave my newborn child alone, I knew that my husband would be a good father, so
I reluctantly said yes. Work is scarce over here, after all, so we needed to do
what we could to feed and provide for our family. We needed food on the table
and diapers for our baby girl.
They explained that the job
would be in the United States. I would be working for a touristic company in
New York City that required young Russian women. While they did not go through
a lot of details regarding my “duties,” they did specify that it would be
touristic in nature and that I’d be interacting with many Russians, Americans,
and Europeans. They explained it’d take a couple of weeks to complete the paper
work for the visa, and then they could place me on a flight to my new
employment for the next year. It was good that I had taken English lessons in
university, I thought. That would come in use during my employment overseas.
The next couple of weeks were
filled with many somber moments of tears and sadness. I didn’t really want to
leave my family for a year, nor was my husband very happy to see me go. But we
completely understood the opportunity of this job prospect. I would save every
penny earned, and then when I returned our home, we would move to Moscow, set
up a business together, and build a better way of life for our family. At
least, that was the plan.
But plans change when extreme
tragedy happens. And this tragedy resulted in tremendous consequences all our
lives, especially my own.
Even so, during our final
goodbyes, our families and my husband exchanged many kisses, hugs, and tears
with me before I finally departed. They all mentioned how they loved me, would
miss me, and how they respected my sacrifice for our family. Everyone was there
for the goodbye: my parents, my grandparents, his parents, his grandparents, my
two brothers, and his sister along with his brother. They were all there as one
supportive family to show their love and care for me and their support for our
family’s decision. I even received a few little gifts and many pictures to take
with me, along with my favorite thing of all: a photograph of my husband holding
our small baby.
All mothers I’m sure
understand the kind of pain involved in leaving behind a child. They must
understand how difficult that is. To leave my husband and my baby girl! It
brought me to tears countless times during those weeks.
I finally arrived in the
United States, the land supposedly for the free; well, maybe anyone but me.
After retrieving my bags, I found my boss, an older woman of obvious Russian
decent. She explained to me that she had been in the same position as me, and
that if I was obedient and good at my work, much success could come my way.
Believe me, I tried to find out more about my duties on the way from the
airport, but all she’d do was just smile that charismatic smile and then tell
me that I’d be fine and learn in good time. Plus, she explained, there was no
rush. It was best to enjoy the sites on this drive as I might be too busy to
see much of them for a while.
And, that I did, as it was my
first time seeing any city outside of Russia. The city was beautiful and, truthfully,
I was charmed by the new and different culture along with the surrounding
architecture. Not even for a moment did I question what was about to happen.
Who would ever think that anyone could do anything so cruel to, well, anyone
When the taxi dropped us off
at an old apartment building, that was when I began to feel unease wave over
me. This place didn’t look as charming as the rest of the town. The apartment
building didn’t appear appealing at all.
And, that was when things
started to go downhill. The older woman,
Helga, took me into the building where there appeared to be vacant halls,
though it looked like there was a lot of use not long ago.
I was brought to one of the
flats, and there were two men already there. They offered me a drink, which I
had at first declined, but after some pressure I reluctantly accepted their
offer. One of the men, along with Helga, sat with me at the table, while the
other man stood by the door as if he were some kind of security. They were
discussing with me about my home and family. All seemed quite normal at first,
until he finally said, “And, you better do as we say... if you care for their
I stood up to try to leave,
but the other man moved in the way of the door. I was also beginning to feel
very odd. My drink! Drugged with some kind of substance to make me more
obedient. It was then that I slipped and fell to the floor. The man at the table
was quickly on his feet, only to push me down further toward the ground as I
tried to get back up.
“You will learn to love this,
bitch. You will love being a whore.”
And then he had proceeded to
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