Let's Welcome Alena, our Impact Development Director 

by Alena, Impact Development Director of Willpowered Woman. Originally published here.

My name is Alena and I’m from Russia. I joined Willpowered Woman as Impact Development Director last month. I have more than 5 years of experience in nonprofit organizations and have a diploma in social psychology and economics. Unfortunately, intimate partner abuse is paid very little attention in my Country. There aren’t any crisis centers or women’s shelter to help survivors. Recently, a law was passed by our Government that decriminalizes intimate partner violence. If a woman involves the Police for the first time, a man will not suffer any punishment. Growing up in Russia, women are brought up under different stereotypes: women should cook, clean the house and care for children, but men need to rest after work; the message is frequently communicated that if a woman isn’t married and doesn’t have children, she will be unhappy and have a sad life. There are a lot of women in Russia who think it’s normal if their husband hurts or humiliates them.

I was in an abusive relationship. I met a guy who was jealous, humiliated me, didn’t let me meet with friends and constantly left me with a sense of guilt for wanting other people in my life. I found strength in myself and ended this relationship. For a long time after I could not have a relationship with anyone.

I’ve been in many situations where women’s rights were infringed upon because we are women. For example:

  • When I took my driver's license test, my instructor said that he wouldn’t let me take the exam while he patted me on the knees. Only after my boyfriend talked to him, did he stop doing this and started the exam.
  • My mother did the same job as a man, but the salary was different.
  • My friend's husband is violent towards her every time her opinion is different from his.
‚ÄčEvery time in my life when I saw these situations, I asked myself: “Why does it happen so often? What should I do? How can I prevent it?” I found the answers through Willpowered Woman. We have to make a change and stand up to intimate partner abuse. We have to educate at high schools, universities and businesses to prevent intimate partner abuse. We have to develop women’s empowerment. I know we will! When I return to Russia I will be able to help many women in my Country and that really excites me. I look forward to working with the Willpowered Woman community!