Woman Plus...
  N 1, 2002

You can lose but you cannot give up

Tatiana Fediaeva

    For the first time during my rather long life I wanted to become a teenager with deviant behavior (earlier difficult children were called so, and much earlier - hooligans). It doesn't mean that I longed for "feats" or the age turned to childhood. I just envied the boys, who after mistakes, tests, fooleries, other people aversion of them and their aversion of the strange world, suddenly found themselves in such a wonderful situation.

When I told about it Svetlana Pavlovna Gordeeva, a deputy director, she waved her hand and said: "Don't envy! The youth are having hard time now, especially those who are from adverse families. And no crisis center, even the best, will substitute the things which each of us must receive in a normal kind family. But on the whole in our crisis center we work first of all with men..."

We are already accustomed that women organizations, crisis centers and even asylums for women are established in many cities. Placards "Women in the city administration", "Women and politics", "No to the domestic violence", "Democracy minus woman - isn't a democracy" and others like these can be already seen not only in the social organizations but in the "top-ranking" cabinets. But a crisis center for men is still an infrequent occurrence. "It is not just infrequent but a single in Russia, - corrected Svetlana Pavlovna, - Even talking about abroad a similar organization exists only in Sweden, in the city of Geteborg."

Five years ago a Regional crisis center for men (RCCM) was opened in the very center of Western Siberia, in the city of Barnaul. It must be noted that it was created not as a product of the enthusiasm of several people but as a quite serious institute in the structure of the population social protection committee. Even at the official level it must have been confessed that the impending problems cannot be solved with the help of standard measures.

All started when after making sociological research Ludmila Gusliakova (Altaisky state university) couldn't believe her eyes: men had nothing to do with the "stronger sex"! It turns out to be a weak one. And unlike women who have already understood that they need to unite to defend their rights in some way, - men don't even think about it.

It is time when they should not think but act. A huge number of deaths of cardiac infarction, suicides... Attend any Russian graveyard: only young men who should work, bring up children and please their wives are pictured on the memorials. What is the reason that the lifetime of this "stronger sex" is shorter all possible limits? They say, you should drink less. That's right! But alcoholism is not only a cause but also an after-effect, and in many respects, an after-effect of numerous sociological problems. They should be solved in some way. But it is a difficult cause that isn't within everyone's power. If my memory doesn't fail me the prayer of Optinsky elders reads as follows: "Give me strength to change something that I am unable to endure; to endure something that I am unable to change and give me wisdom in order not to confuse the first with the second". Most people lack this very wisdom.

The main aim of the center organizers was not only to rehabilitate the men who found themselves in a crisis situation but also to teach them not to lead any situation to a crisis one. Like in medicine: the most important thing is preventive measures.

It started from the work of physicians in a small cabinet. First they were occupied only with those who suffered from cardiac infarction. They needed to be prepared to the life of the other status, other tempo; and finally many of them needed to be accustomed to the idea of quite DIFFERENT approach than before disease. And when they started to unwind an "infarction" clew of the young it became clear that the causes of cardiac infarctions should be looked at. There is quite a number of causes: participation in the liquidation of Chernobille nuclear power station accident, Afghanistan, Chechnya, unemployment, lack of dwelling, alcoholism, drug addiction, family conflicts, moving, more resembling escape, from the former USSR countries, staying in prison for committed crimes and returning to the "Civil life" where nobody waits for you...

According to opinion of the center specialists every second dweller of the region needs psychological and social help. But it's impossible to help everybody. So they determined their own target group - men capable of working. Understanding how it is difficult for many people to resolve to come to a crisis center (after all, taking into account the stereotypes, it means confessing your weakness and feebleness), at first they asked the officials of the employment service, institutes of social defense, cautiously but emphatically to advise those who ask for their help to resort to the crisis center.

The motto of the center is: "You can lose but you cannot give up". The emblem pictures a deer tearing itself away from an exclusive circle; it is a symbol of overcoming. Many people perceive crisis situation as an exclusive circle, which seems never to be got out of. But it isn't so. You should only find a support, a foundation, a firm footing and, gathering all strength and taking courage, make a powerful spurt like a deer tearing a firm circle of problems. An ellipse is a symbol of constant movement. Movement is always a change. In which direction - everyone chooses himself. We, ourselves, are responsible for everything happening with us, and making ourselves happy is within our power. We must remember that each of us is a part of a single whole - of the surrounding world - and changing ourselves we change it too.

It is difficult to believe but the specialists of the center really help people t make themselves happy. You should only look at the photos of the camp organized for lone fathers and their children. You need no proof but to attend one concert where participants are those who are registered in the inspection of the under age cases, or just attend psychologist's studies.

Frankly speaking, before visiting this center I, as well as everyone, often complained that now even the most necessary help is not free of charge and thus is not accessible to everyone in our country. I didn't even think that it can otherwise. But here, in the center, you are not only listened and given an advice (at that nobody asks your name, name yourself as you like) by a lawyer, social problems expert, social pedagogue, physicians such as psychotherapist, sexologist, andrologist, expert in narcology, - but in case of necessity they will send you to undergo a necessary treatment. It is astonishing but really true. It's quite another matter that if you wish you can take an extra course of treatment or rehabilitation for money.

All the applicants may participate in the group projects of long duration. We have already mentioned the program of the rehabilitation for people suffering from cardiac infarctions. It still remains one of the main programs. Besides there is a program "School of life" for children from imperfect fatherly families (its aim is developing of the teenagers personality, forming of communicative skills), a program of social psychological training for people suffering from a personal crisis, enduring difficulties of social adaptation and family life. There is a program of training of non-forcible behavior "Prevention of violence", aimed at drawing attention to the problems of violence and teaching teenagers to approach the life without violence. I admit that I would hardly believe that teenagers attend such classes. But they do! They attend and study with pleasure. Probably, because it's interesting and the received knowledge and habits help to get on with yourself and those around you.

Only in one quarter more than five hundred men appealed to the RCCM. 65% of them came for the second time. Almost one quarter of those who appealed are people aged from 20 to 25 years old, 10% are people of 35-40 years of age, and as many people from 50 to 55. It's interesting that married men appeal more willingly than single or divorced. It means, that they still want to save the family!

Lately the work with children and teenagers was separated as an independent activity of the RCCM. This is a program "Learn to say no" for teenagers with deviant behavior, a health improving tent camp program (including walking-tours to the mountains, and songs around the campfire, and competitions, after which children quite imperceptibly change for the better), and already traditional "Evening sitting-rooms", where unexpected talents come to light and which they don't want to leave, since each of them begins to realize his own originality and significance and feel himself an author of his own life.

Of course, nobody would believe that from the very moment of the center establishment and up to this day everything went off swimmingly and smoothly. It didn't. There were ascents, but there were difficulties. But nobody ever wanted to give it up and engage themselves in something different. Since the pursuit which the center officials chose, irrespective of the fact whether they were scientists or experts, is unique. And it is interesting thanks to its originality.

Prior to its fifth anniversary the center enlarged its quarters. Now the whole second floor of the former city Service house is rendered to its offices. Several cabinets, halls for studies, back rooms will be situated here. Of course, the premises need to be repaired. But the administration helps plus they have learnt to earn themselves. By the way, the following fact conveys the quality of the RCCM work: the center has already won several competitions which enables to add new programs to already existing ones, that were the first programs to start with and are included in the so-called "obligatory program" budgeted from the region sources. Thus, for example, the project "Be able to say no" in 2000-2001 is financed by the program "Health and development of the youth" of the United Nations Organization Children Fund (UNICEF). In the printed materials published according to the program there are several booklet calendars one of which reads: "You are a person and deserve a feeling of security. Trust your feelings. Discuss the problems you cannot solve yourself with adults. It is never late to ask adults or us for help".

    ...When I was telling my, in general, happy Barnaul nephews about the center's work they listened to me, asked several insignificant questions, and, as it seemed to me, forgot about it. And then one of them suddenly said: " However, give us the address of the Center. And the phone number. I'm writing down..."
    According to the statistics annually about two thousand people use the RCCM services. It still remains a single one all over Russia with the population of 140 million people. How many of them are in crisis?