The family of Pastor Еvgeny Peresvetov, who fled the persecution of Russian justice, found the International Restoration Church in the city of Bellevue in Washington state, as well as a shelter for women (which they also call a refuge), victims of domestic violence. They had already had a similar experience – in Russia they founded several similar shelters for women and children who had suffered from domestic violence.
The pastor’s wife, Olga Peresvetova, herself had a negative experience of sexual abuse, and her parents did not know about it for a long time, because she was afraid to tell them about it. Then Olga came to the thought – how nice it would be to have a place where someone can come and feel safe, someone will be helped to recover, etc.
In the summer of 2016, during a conversation with Evgeniy, she shared this idea with him and he supported her – they soon opened a shelter for women in Moscow. But the work turned out to be not easy, many difficulties had to be faced – including the husbands of those women who had left them, began to learn about the center, started to come and threaten. So this way Olga and her husband realized that the location should be kept secret. But, as Olga admitted, there were always people nearby who helped, educated, so things went uphill.
But in Russia, the activities of the pastor and his wife came to the attention of the FSB. As a result, Evgeny Peresvetov was banned from entering Russia for a period of 25 years. The couple made the decision to move to America. And in the city of Bellevue, they found the International Restoration Church and a shelter for women, victims of domestic violence.
At the beginning, when the couple came to America and Olga thought about doing something similar, which she was doing in Moscow, she was told that there was no such need, because the law in America works pretty well, there is no domestic violence.
However, Olga began to receive calls and messages from women who knew about her activities in Russia, they asked if she was going to do something similar in the United States, they needed her help. According to Olga, she realized that the problem of domestic violence is very serious in the Slavic Christian churches in the USA. As she said, in conservative churches, pastors have a rather peculiar attitude to the problem of domestic violence.
In support of her words, she told one story: she was contacted by a woman from out of state who got to know about the opening of a shelter for victims of domestic violence. That woman was was a believer, the husband was also a believer, but at the same time he regularly beat her, swore at her, insulted her, said that he would leave her, and so on and so forth. The unhappy woman was glad that she would be received at the shelter free of charge. But in the conversation, she said that she needed to warn her pastor that she was leaving. As a result, after talking to the pastor, he forbade her to leave, accusing her of destroying the family, that she would be the reason that her husband would go to hell and that she needed to save him. In other words, the pastor did not consider the words of the husband addressed to his actual wife that he would find another woman as the destruction of the family, but he considered as destruction the woman’s desire to save her life.
According to Olga, such problems arise in churches, because in many of them it is not customary to speak openly about problems, to discuss them, to seek a solution. The topic of sexuality and sex is almost completely closed for discussion. Unfortunately, this also leads to violence, and a woman in conservative churches is put in a position to blame.
The women’s shelter offers to undergo the “Gorgeous Woman Recovery” program, which lasts 1 year and consists of 2 parts: 9 months recovery program + 3 months adaptation, the program is free for victims of domestic violence. After completing the program, the center sets itself the task of helping to find a job, new housing. If a woman comes with children, the children are placed in the nearest school.
As Olga Peresvetova said, the shelter works thanks to donations and sponsors. Olga herself believes that helping people, organizing shelters for women is her mission.