This is an interview with a survivor of domestic violence in Sweden. It is based on a documentary produced by Swedish National Television where actors read transcripts of prosecutions that have all resulted in prison sentences for the perpetrators.
· According to BRÅ 25% of women in Sweden will experience domestic violence in their lifetime
· In Sweden, a man kills a woman every third week
“We were the perfect couple. What happened at home no one knew. Not even my family.”
”In the beginning, we were just friends. But one night he looked me deep in the eyes and told me he had feelings for me… It felt so special and I said I had feelings for him too… I was only 17 when we moved in together… He was so different from the guys I had met before… He was a calm and nice person.”
Moa looks back on the first four years with Sam as perfect, but then Sam fixes so that he and Moa get jobs in another city.
Sam start changing
There Moa starts noticing a difference in him. He starts getting irritated about small things and commenting on how she dresses, how she takes too long time doing the laundry and how she wears her hair.
As a result, Moa starts isolating herself, putting on less makeup and wearing loose clothes that cover her body.
“We had been together for four years. I had such a strong connection with him. I couldn’t just leave him. So I started changing myself to make him stop picking on me.”
One night they drive around in the car. They laugh and Moa starts recognizing Sam as he used to be. Then he stops the car, goes down on one knee, and proposes. She says yes and for a month everything is good, but then the nasty comments return.
“He started calling me mean words. That I was stupid and an idiot. Not super mean words, but still so much that one feels useless.”
One night Moa is doing the laundry in the laundry room. Sam enters and is very angry. He starts accusing her of taking too long with the laundry and Moa talks back. Then he hits her in the face for the first time.
”I got so shocked and thought, what kind of person is this. And I got really sad and started crying. Then he told me I was only crying to make him look like a monster.”
The violence escalates
“He never let me go to the hospital with my injuries. Instead, he taped the wounds all over my body. My legs, my face, my back. I still have wounds all over my body.”
The fights start getting worse and the physical violence escalates, leaving bruises all over Moa’s body. But every morning after Sam has been beating her, he is always very sweet. He makes Moa breakfast, says he is sorry, and promises to never beat her again.
“One night I wake up at three am because I can’t get any air. It feels like I’m drowning. He is standing pouring water in my face. So I get water in my mouth and nose at the same time. Then he beats me and tells me to get up.”
During the night Sam beats Moa until the morning when he gets tired and falls asleep. But before he falls asleep, he tells her that he doesn’t want to hear her breathing, that she needs to be completely quiet.
The Police gets involved
The apartment where Moa and her boyfriend lives have blinds in every window. During the day when Moa is cleaning, they are always open, but when Sam is about to beat her, he always pulls them down.
”When he was pulling down the blinds, I knew I was going to get beaten.”
One time when Sam is beating Moa and screaming loud that he wants to kill her a neighbor hears the fighting. He calls the police. The police come knocking at the door and Moa gets dressed in an attempt to hide her injuries before opening the door.
“The police officers entered the apartment. The first thing one of them says is – Oh, look at this awesome keyboard. He has to be a musician. They didn’t comment on how messy it was in the apartment or that the armchair of the sofa was broken after he had hit me against it until it broke.
I thought, “they have to see it” but it was nothing they noticed. I got the feeling that the police wouldn’t do anything, so it’s for the best I stay quiet. Otherwise, it would only get worse when they had left.
After that day I was heavily punished. He also started forbidding me to make any noise while he was beating me.”
Ia Sweger, lawyer:
“When the police come to the apartment Moa is denying crime even though she is beaten black and blue. The apartment is in total chaos which shows that some sort of commotion has been going on. The police officers say that they couldn’t have done things differently since Moa was not admitting violence.
One could think that if the police would have managed to turn to Moa and get her to take part in the report and maybe even press charges, they could have saved her from a lot of the aggravated assault she later became a victim of.”
Henrik Belfrage, professor criminology:
“The police – their task is not only to investigate crimes. According to police law, it’s also their responsibility to protect us citizens. And to know who needs protection and how one must make a proper risk evaluation. But unfortunately, the police don’t have the resources to do that. And I would also like to go as far as saying that the authorities don’t take this seriously.”
The trip to Sam’s family
Sam decides that he and Moa will visit his family to celebrate his sister’s wedding. Moa doesn’t want to go. She is scared and tells him that she is too afraid of going away with him. Sam tells her that she has to because it would look strange if she wasn’t there.
“Almost directly when we get into the hotel room, I get a kick in the back. Then a punch in my face.”
Sam hits Moa so hard with a camera stand that she feels her arm almost breaking. He then takes her arm and put it across his leg and tells her that now he will break it for real. Then he presses her arm causing Moa immense pain.
“He took up a metal trash bin and put it on my head because he didn’t want to see my bloody disgusting face. He said I should sit with it on my head until he came back. Then he left and I sat completely still. I sat like that and waited. Completely still.”
Moa sits bleeding with the trash bin on her head until it gets dark outside.
The next day Sam has to drive the car to the wedding since Moa is in too much pain from the injuries. After the wedding, Sam compliments Moa on her great ability to hide and lie about her injuries.
The suicide note
“One day he sat me at the desk. I would write my own suicide letter. I should write what he said and then end with my name. Then he puts on plastic gloves, takes the letter, and locks it in the safe.”
During the night Sam wakes Moa to tells her that she is going to die at 4 am.
“He picks out a dress. So that I will be beautiful when I die. Then he took up a rope and told me to hold it so that my fingerprints would be on in”.
Then Sam forces Moa, in the middle of the night, out to a football field. There he pushes her up against one of the football goals. Suddenly he changes his mind about killing Moa, he pushes her and they return. Moa is relieved, but she knows it will only get worse.
Back home: ”He threatened me that he would cut off my skin. And pull it off. That he would skin me alive.”
Ia Sweger, lawyer:
“This event, I would say, has given Moa irreparable scars. And it is obvious that the psychological violence is a part of the abuse. It is supposed to minimize and eliminate a part of the integrity of the victim. It is extremely serious. So yes, physical and psychological violence I would like to say is equivalent.”
The last beating
“The last time he beat me he locked me in for four days. He beat me until he didn’t have the strength to continue. In the end, I blacked out. And when I woke up I was only thinking – why didn’t I die? I was covered in blood. And I’m thinking the next time I close my eyes I will stop breathing.”
Sam wakes Moa. She can’t speak. Sam tells her that they must go to the emergency room, otherwise, she will not survive. When they enter the hospital Moa gets put in a wheelchair and Sam gets to wait outside. Her injuries are so severe that she needs to be x-rayed.
She says that she has fallen from the bicycle, but the police come to the hospital and the doctors say that based on the injuries it’s impossible to believe she has fallen from the bicycle.
“I was hospitalized for many days… One night a nurse came into my room. She held my hand and I started to feel a little bit more safe. So I asked her if it was true that I was close to death and she said it was very close. It was then I started realizing the truth…
I started opening up little by little. I felt how my eyes started tearing and how I started crying. Then she started crying too… She told me that I had to tell the truth. That if I didn’t, the next time I wouldn’t survive.”
The police later return and Moa tells them the truth. The trial goes on for four days. Moa’s prosecutor helps her so she doesn’t have to see Sam. She gets to sit in another room.
“Only to hear him cough a little gave me the chills. Every wound on my body started to hurt. Then when he started speaking I completely broke down.”
Moa’s neighbor who called the police explains that he had seen police teams in forensic suits investigating the apartment. Therefore, he thinks he is in court to testify against a murderer. During the trial, he gives his testimony and after he leaves the courtroom he sees a person walking towards him from the far end of the hallway.
“I didn’t recognize her. She said – I only want to give you a hug. Thank you for calling the police.”
Sentence: 9 years
“If you see signs that you recognize from my story, hopefully you can put things together and dare to report. Because it will make a difference. It will help.”
To get help in Sweden:
Kvinnofridslinjen: 020 – 50 50 50
The police: 114 14
In suspicion of an emergency: 112
To get help in Kosovo:
Tel: 112 (nga telefoni mobil) ose 92 (nga telefoni fiks) 038/504 604 6666
Qendra për Mbrojtjen e Grave dhe Fëmijëve (Prishtinë):
Kosovo Women’s Network:
Phone: 038 245 850
NGO Women’s Rights (Mitrovica):
Facebook Messenger: NVO Zensko pravo
This article is a summary of Moa’s story from the documentary “En våldsam Kärlek”. Click here to watch the full documentary series:
En Våldsam Kärlek: https://www.svtplay.se/en-valdsam-karlek
(För att stötta mitt arbete med jämställdhet i Kosovo; med att producera feministiska videointervjuer från Kosovo samt skriva om jämställdhet pro bono för nyhetssajten Insajderi, swisha gärna: 0702592670. Tusen tack!)