When her husband chased her out of the house one cold January day, Nada had nowhere to go. Through the police, she came into contact with one of The Kvinna till Kvinna Foundation's partner organisations, which offers support to women who’ve suffered abuse.
“My husband is an alcoholic.”
That’s how Nada begins her story. Nada, whose real name is something else, is 54 years old and lives in the town of Štip in eastern North Macedonia.
Her husband has been beating and abusing her for over a decade. These past two years, he’s been drunk all the time. He regularly locks Nada out of the house.
“He’ll grab me by my clothes and throw me out, locking the door behind me. I have to ask other people if I can stay with them, otherwise I’d freeze in the streets,” Nada shares.
Leaving her husband is very difficult for Nada, as she’s financially dependent on him. She works at one of the city’s many textile factories—where wages are low and working conditions appalling—and can’t afford a divorce. Her husband owns their shared home.
When Nada’s husband once again threw her out the house in January 2019, he took the violence to a whole new level. That time, she was left standing outside with nothing but the clothes on her back.
“He didn’t let me take anything with me. Not even a bag or my shoes. When I came back the next day to get my things, he took an axe and started screaming ‘You’re a whore’ at me,” Nada recounts.
She reported the incident to the police, who referred her to Educational Humanitarian Organisation (EcHO), one of Kvinna till Kvinna’s partner organisations in North Macedonia. In March 2019, Nada called EcHO’s legal advisor, Blagica Kirov.
“She’s helped me so much. She’s been my support through it all,” Nada speaks with warmth in her eyes, reaching across the table to take Blagica’s hand.
“Blagica’s been on the phone with the police and social services, and she’s helped me through the legal processes,” Nada continues.
“Support like that means a lot when you have nowhere else to turn. No one understands you. No one helps you. No one realises the danger you’re in. Even when you call the police, it takes forever for them to come. You could be dead by the time they arrive.”
Many people in North Macedonia consider domestic violence a problem women should deal with on their own. EcHO is one of the few organisations in the country that specialise in supporting women and girls who’ve been subjected to violence. The organisation’s close cooperation with government agencies has played a crucial role in ensuring justice for survivors.
Nada, who’s still holding Blagica’s hand, adds: “She’s like a sister to me. I love her like a sister. She’s been such a help ever since I first called her.”
Kvinna till Kvinna has worked for women’s rights in North Macedonia since 1999. We support and work together with several local women’s rights organisations to end gender-based violence and defend women’s rights.