The two accounts below illustrate how susceptible orphan girls are to rushing into dangerous relationships. Desperately wishing for love and family but with no healthy examples to learn from, they make ill-fated choices over and over.
The young men involved are usually orphans themselves. Suddenly faced with a family to support but knowing nothing about being a father.
The young women rely on the support from Love Russia Mentors. Role models and stability are needed if they are to prevent repeating the past.
Liliya (name changed) grew up in an orphanage after her parents lost their parental rights when she was just 4 years old. They visited her only once and she never saw them again.
Her schooling at the orphanage was basic but Liliya was noticeably bright, and unusually as an orphanage leaver, was encouraged to take a different route to the traditional practical skills based courses that most orphanage leavers are placed on. Instead, she enrolled at Ryazan State University and studied Law. During her third year, she married and soon had a son - Slava (now 7 years old.) They have few possessions and his delight at being given a simple new toothbrush, and immediately wanting to use it, was obvious and heart-warming.
It transpired that Liliya's husband was extremely aggressive and dangerous, abusing Liliya physically and mentally, even biting her, also threatening to take Slava. Liliya had no choice but to escape and try to disappear. She moved from one friend's sofa to another almost every week, always afraid that he would find her.
Liliya is now divorced, she eventually managed to complete her course and is now trying to find work. In July last year she got married for the second time because she was pregnant again. Although appearing to have moved on, because she was raised in an orphanage, she still has huge abandonment, trust and fear issues. Even though she's now in her mid-twenties, her level of maturity does not reflect this.
Anya (name changed) and her three sisters were placed in an orphanage after their parents had their parental rights removed.
Diagnosed with a mild form of epilepsy, she was separated from her sisters and moved to a remote orphanage for children with mental health problems. 3 years after leaving this isolated institution, believing she'd fallen in love, she moved in with a man and they had a son. Family life was not the happiness she'd dreamed of. They fought regularly and a year later she was living by herself.
Because Anya had to work to survive, she had no choice but to leave her son at an orphanage - she visited him almost every day. When he was two she took him home to be with her and her second husband. However, he intensely disliked her boy who'd developed mental health problems and once again, a destructive and abusive relationship caused Anya to leave.
Now in her mid-twenties, Anya also has a daughter and is married for a third time. Her husband suffers with spinal hernias and is unable to work.
Anya's life has been traumatic so far but, with the help of the mums' group, she is very determined this marriage will work and optimistic that she can move on from her unsettled past.
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