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Iulia Slanina, originally from Băcioi commune, Chisinau municipality, was left homeless with two children after her violent husband set fire to the house. He lost their first house gambling.

‘If only people knew what would happen to them, they would be careful beforehand!’, says an old Romanian saying. And how could the poor woman know that such a misfortune would happen to her. She has endured everything from her husband: beatings, humiliations, pledged house, gambling. But setting fire to the house and not letting anyone put out the flames – that’s too much already. As if it wasn’t enough that she was raising her children all by herself and trying to forget the violence inflicted by him that ruined the best years of her youth.

‘May the Lord punish him for what he has done!’

‘I really hate him! I don’t even want to hear from him again or see him again. I hope God will punish Gheorghe for what he did to me. Yes, I have indeed put up with a lot from him, but setting fire to the house I bought and furnished all by myself, without contributing a penny – that goes beyond all limits,’ the woman says with a trembling voice.

Iulia Slanina married her husband Gheorghe 20 years ago and has two children, a boy and a girl. It never occurred to her that the day they met would be the most cursed day of her life. ‘And people around me used to tell me to be more cautious about him and that he is a bit of a bully, but I was young and clueless and I didn’t believe them. Now, when I piece together the memories, I realise that people were right but I can’t change anything anymore,’ Iulia notes with a sigh.

The woman’s marriage has always been a troubled one, with her husband being abusive from the start. He beat her, swore at her and even fired at her. The bullet went past her ear… he was even heard bragging about it to an acquaintance. ‘Some time after the marriage, I realized who I was dealing with. I wanted to break up, but everyone around were advising me to put up with it since I wouldn’t have a place to stay with the children and I wouldn’t be able to manage on my own. So I was putting up with all the abuse’, she explains.

He gambled away the house

For Iulia, misfortunes kept coming thick and fast. Initially, the family had a two-storey house in a suburb of the capital, but the husband managed to pawn it, forging his wife’s signature to obtain a large loan from a bank. ‘He liked gambling very much, so I woke up one day with our house being pawned. He obtained a loan of MDL 220,000 from the bank by forging my signature, since no one would lend to you that much money just like that. He then squandered the loan, the bank sold our house returning only a small amount of money left after the debt was paid off,’ she recounts.

She did not initiate the appealing procedure to claim that the agreement document submitted back then was false. The money returned by the bank was only enough to buy a small house in the village of Băcioi. She then divorced Gheorghe. She could no longer forgive him, especially since he had many debts, his creditors were after him, sometimes threatening her as well. Once, the indebted ex-husband got locked in the trunk of a car, and Iulia rushed to borrow from her relatives the amount needed to get him out of trouble.

10 years, alone

‘He lost everything he had, including us. Shortly after this incident, he went to work in Spain to repay his debts and stayed there for 10 years. He used to call and brag about having money and doing very well. But he would send little money home – on a child’s birthday or at the beginning of the school year. I have experienced first-hand the hardships of raising two children all by myself. At first, I had a hard time. Starting from scratch is not easy at all. I even used to gather firewood and forage for walnuts to feed my children. Over time, I have gradually repaired the house, and last year I even managed to save enough money to install central heating. Everything in this apartment is due to my efforts alone’, said the woman.

Last autumn, after 10 years of absence, Iulia found her ex-husband at her doorstep, who returned to ‘his house’. The relatives urged her in unison to take him in, that maybe he had come to his senses – after all, she needed a man in the household. ‘When I saw him on the doorstep in the same clothes he had left, I realised that the gambling habit had followed him to Spain. Reluctantly, but in the hope that he would change, I took him in. At first he behaved well, but shortly afterwards he snapped and the person from before was back again. What’s more, he was yelling that this is his home. If I would have worked abroad for so long, I would have bought a four-storey house by now’, said the woman, regretting bitterly to have taken him in.

A new life for the third time

Iulia then called the police, the police officer informed the troublemaker that he had no right to stay at his ex-wife’s house. A protection order has also been issued. Then, one winter morning on 23 January this year, the man set fire to the house and left her with the children on the road for a second time, only this time for good. ‘I was at work. He came home and started a vicious fight with the boy. After chasing his son around the yard with an axe and threatening to kill him, Gheorghe set fire to the house. He was standing in the middle of the yard not allowing anyone to put out the flames, saying that it was his house and he could do whatever he wanted,’ Iulia lamented.

The woman has been staying at a placement centre in the capital for already four months. She no longer knows how to save money for a dwelling or what to do next. The girl is doing well in school, but the boy has recently fallen ill. ‘Honestly, it was so good without him while he was in Spain. He is now in custody. The court will decide whether or not he goes to jail. And I really want him to get there and never see him again. I’m tired and broken, but the hope that, at least at 43, I will somehow be able to start a new life for the third time gives me the strength to go on. I just don’t quite know how. I’m afraid sometimes that the court would acquit him and if he comes back…,’ she left her thought unfinished.

Help for the one in need

If you would like to help Iulia to have a roof over her head and raise her children, you can do so by donating any amount, however small, to the bank account below:

CB Moldindconbank SA

Charity account number: 22523093213

Beneficiary: Iulia Slanina

Bank Code: MOLDMD2X309

For additional information, you can call us at 022 237303; 068 855050

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