LifestyleEscalating trauma: Russian soldiers' return from front lines linked to crime and domestic violence surge

Escalating trauma: Russian soldiers' return from front lines linked to crime and domestic violence surge

Russian soldiers commit many crimes after returning from the front.
Russian soldiers commit many crimes after returning from the front.
Images source: © PAP

7:28 AM EST, January 29, 2024, updated: 4:41 AM EST, March 7, 2024

It's been two years since Russia initiated a full-scale invasion of Ukraine on February 24. The conflict continues and has resulted in escalating casualties on both sides. Returning soldiers often bear not only physical scars but significant psychological trauma.

As reported by Onet, the war has profoundly impacted Russian army personnel and their families. Kremlin-controlled media are barred from mentioning crimes perpetrated by returning soldiers, but independent reports suggest an alarming number of such incidents.

Returned soldiers implicated in violent crimes

Onet documents numerous instances of crimes committed by members of the Russian army upon their return from the front in Ukraine and other places. One incident involved a man setting a baby stroller on fire following a disagreement, leading to the death of a 49-year-old woman and injuries to a seven-year-old child and a 55-year-old man.

Stanislav Ionkin, another war veteran, reportedly launched a hunting rocket in a club in Kostroma, resulting in 13 people being burned alive. The media have also reported incidents of beatings, knife attacks, and murders committed not only by convicts recruited from prisons but also by regular volunteers.

A report by the law association "Trawmpunkt", referenced by Onet, reveals a 4% increase in the rate of murders and attempted murders in the past 20 years. The report also highlights a significant rise in alcohol consumption in Russia.

Combat-related trauma

Studies have long explored the concept of post-traumatic stress disorder, which is common among accident victims. However, the "militarized psyche" and combat stress experienced by war veterans warrant separate investigation.

Anton Raguzin, a psychiatrist quoted by Onet, explains that "combat stress, unlike PTSD developed during peacetime (typically as a result of disasters or natural calamities), often has more devastating social, professional, family, and mental consequences." Raguzin believes that traumatic experiences on the frontlines influence soldiers' behaviors later in life, leading to psychotic reactions and heightened aggression. This profoundly impacts the soldiers' lives and those of their families.

Rise in domestic violence

The "Anna" anti-violence against women center reports a 5% increase in calls to their helpline in 2022 due to domestic violence.

In an interview with the "New Gazette", one Russian woman recounted the stark changes in a relative who returned from Ukraine. "He has become more controlling, meticulously inspecting everything. He's simply not the same person. He used to be different — he has become a completely different person," she disclosed. She recognized symptoms of trauma in returning vets, who, plagued by nightmares, restlessness, and frequent quarrels, caused their families to reach a breaking point.

Anna Rivina from the anti-violence center highlighted that the lack of data made it difficult to measure the full extent of domestic violence. However, she noted that frequent reports of aggressive behavior from veterans towards their families are a cause for concern.

"Instances of rape, domestic abuse directed at wives and daughters, as well as child maltreatment — all of which remain largely undetected and unknown to the police," she enumerated. Rivina added that many victims are not aware of their rights and, out of fear that the situation might worsen, tolerate escalating violence.

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