Jump to ratings and reviews
Rate this book

My Whispers of Horror: Letters Telling Women's True Tales from Ex-USSR Nations

Rate this book
"If he hits me, then he must love me."

"I am a cow and I am a bull. I am a woman and I am a man."

"If you don't find an ideal man by your age... it doesn't mean that you like girls. Don't worry, you can find a man! You will not be an old maid."

"That was also when these police officers, who were meant to protect the public, became my pimps."

What can be more deep and personal than reading what a woman wrote of her experiences? Cases such as domestic violence, forced prostitution, rape, and more. You won't be able to tear your eyes away as you read their quiet whispers of horror, while trying to understand why this still happens in other cultures today. Having these real women explain to the world what happened to them will help to raise awareness on why we still need to fight and stand up for them.

Much of the world is still stuck within sadistic patriarchal standards that oppresses women. And for a woman to survive in such a culture she must have enormous strength to defend her own or her children's lives from violence and oppression. Read what these brave women wish to confess.

176 pages, Paperback

First published November 1, 2013

Loading interface...
Loading interface...

About the author

Olga Brine

3 books7 followers
I am a publisher and partner at the activist publishing house Brine Books Publishing. We are trying to raise awareness and funds for important human rights issues around the world.
Twitter username is BrineBooks.

Ratings & Reviews

What do you think?
Rate this book

Friends & Following

Create a free account to discover what your friends think of this book!

Community Reviews

5 stars
39 (51%)
4 stars
21 (27%)
3 stars
11 (14%)
2 stars
2 (2%)
1 star
3 (3%)
Displaying 1 - 27 of 27 reviews
Profile Image for Ruth Hill.
1,115 reviews637 followers
January 25, 2014
This has to be one of the hardest books I have read in quite some time. I have read about sex trafficking, and I have read about the Holocaust. I have read about Christian martyrs, and I have read about those who have overcome horrendous obstacles. I had no idea until I picked up this book that this was how life was and is in the Ukraine and Russia. We don't hear much about the former USSR in America, and I never would have dreamed that such atrocities occurred amongst families. I was never physically nor sexually abused, but I see how bad things could be. I kept saying to myself, "There but for the grace of God go I." I even found myself praying for several of these women along the way. When the stories ended with the woman being able to live her life in peace, I rejoiced. The hardest stories were the stories of women who were still in their horrific situation. I can't imagine.

I now feel I understand one reason the birth rate in Russia is so low, and I even wonder about some of the "spam" I receive about Russian women looking for men. I discussed this book in great detail with my mom, and she was just as shocked to hear some of the stories. Content warning--this is a very weighty book to read with adult situations and adult language. I honestly didn't find myself offended at the profanity since it was in letters from real women in abusive situations. But know that it is there. Don't sit down and read the book in one sitting. I tried, and I really struggled to get through many of the stories. I would have preferred having a good week or two to read the stories one at a time. I recommend this book to anyone who is ready to learn about something that NEVER makes the news, but needs to be known.

I was sent a copy of this book in exchange for my honest opinion. I was not financially compensated, and all opinions are 100 percent mine.
Profile Image for Alana.
253 reviews7 followers
November 8, 2013
I received this book through a GoodReads First-reads giveaway. As I was scanning through the giveaway list I stumbled across the book and found it interesting that the authors had published it themselves. I figured that this showed the book meant a great deal to them so I entered to win. Usually I enjoy reading dark and gritty stories so this appealed to me. I didn't pause to think about how this one is not fictitious and could deeply affect me.

Saying that this book 'affected' me is an incredible understatement. I feel like my heart was torn out of my chest, and I cannot stop thinking about these women's letters. It is unacceptable that this happens to women. It does not simply occur in ex-USSR nations as most people should know. In fact, even in this book, Ekaterina's tragedy happened in New York City. Almost more shocking, is how short some of these letters are. They don't even begin scratch the surface of the ongoing and permanent suffering these women have gone/are going through. I'm getting upset just thinking about it.

I am so grateful that people like the Brines are bringing awareness to the topic of domestic violence towards women (and beyond domestic!). I think everyone needs to read these letters. I want to re-tell to everyone I know and don't know, everything that happens in the letters but I think people should check this book out for themselves. I will be passing it along for sure. I also recommend purchasing a large box of tissues. I am not usually one to cry over words on a page, but I had tears in my eyes the entire 162 pages. It truly does "touch and terrfiy you on a personal level" as the back of the book suggests.
9 reviews
November 5, 2013
I thought that reading this book will be a nightmare. I almost decided to abandon it, after I buying it and reading a few of its reviews. That would have been a great mistake.

Even if the subject of this book seems horrible, the stories which it contains are very realistic. I have travelled in that area from which these stories have their origins. I have seen pretty similar situations. I hate to admit it, but in those countries, women are some sort of currency. Men are trading them for different purposes. And, just as they throw away money, sometimes men are throwing women away.

Unfortunately, the authors were perfectly right, when they introduced the first quote. I have heard with my own ears the following sentence: `If he beats, then he must love me'. I was really amazed when reading that quote, as, in an instant, this phrase came back into my mind. During my stay in Ukraine, in Odessa, I have heard this `concept' from not just one woman...but from several ones.

This book has managed to capture and provide the exact reality that you can see there. I was amazed by how the feelings, pains, emotions of those poor women are being transmitted to the reader.

These stories are nothing else but the whole truth!
Profile Image for Jennifer (JC-S).
2,865 reviews197 followers
June 9, 2014
‘The screams of many women around the world are often forced into nearly silent whispers.’

We all want some measure of happiness in our lives. For some of us, that is relatively easy to achieve. For many women, it is almost impossible. This book, compiled by Olya and Chris Brine, presents letters from 20 different women from Russia and Ukraine writing of issues in their lives, of their experiences of inequality, domestic violence and effective slavery. All of this in a culture in which women struggle to be heard and where obtaining any form of justice or redress is almost impossible.

‘It is our hope that you walk away from reading these letters with a better understanding of the problems that Russian and Ukrainian women face.’

There are fewer than 200 pages in this book, but it took me almost a week to read it. The issues described are not confined to Russia and Ukraine, or to countries where female inequality is obvious, nor is violence and exploitation solely a male domain. It is not a problem (or set of problems) we can see as belonging to someone else, define as belonging to ‘them’ rather than ‘us’. Where to start?

This book is about raising awareness, of reminding many of us that the relative comfort of our own lives is not universal. And by including personal letters (albeit under pseudonyms), the issues become immediate, the situations are shared. But what do we do next? Some of these women have escaped from their abusive situations, others haven’t, and some have little hope.

‘Please do not pity me, dear readers. To tell you the truth, all I want at this point is for someone to know that I lived and that I was once here.’ (Anna)

‘There was no way for me to believe that someone who claimed to love me could be so unbelievably cruel.’ (Irina)

‘Nobody seemed to want to support me, no matter where I went for assistance.’ (Svetlana)

‘I no longer laugh at married women with lazy husbands when I am on the train.’ (Natasha)

‘What use is it to call someone guilty without any justice?’ (Ekaterina)

‘To be alone with one’s own troubles behind the closed doors of one’s home is the most difficult situation for both an adult and a young child.’ (Tamara)

Many of the men referred to in these letters are also victims: victims of a culture which seems to almost encourage self-destructive behaviour, which fosters violence and dominance as acceptable behaviours. Can the women be helped effectively unless the men are as well? How can women reclaim their lives in such a culture? And, heartbreakingly, what does the future hold for the next generation? For the boys brought up to see such abusive behaviour as acceptable and the girls brought up to accept violence?

This book raises our awareness. Awareness is the first of many steps in change.

Note: I was offered and accepted a copy of this book for review purposes.

Jennifer Cameron-Smith
Profile Image for Mirjam Penning.
52 reviews6 followers
March 27, 2014
The book 'My whispers of Horror' I won here on GoodReads. Never won anything in my life, so winning a book, getting it send to my house was such a nice thing to experience. The least I can do is holding my end of the bargain and give an expanded review now I finished reading.

Catchy, even when it could've been three words instead of four, by skipping 'My'.

The Cover
I like that it's a drawing portraying the subject well. And it certainly is different than other covers in a good way.

Grammar and Spelling
My native isn't English. English is my second language and is in the intermediate range. I already have read a lot of books in English. But for me being not a native and having no more than a certain level of intermediate, I did encounter errors that didn't get picked up on before this book got published. I got the feeling either they didn't use proofreaders going over this book, before it went to print. Or the proofreaders' background in this matter wasn't high enough. If I already can pick up on the errors, a native English person certainly will encounter more.

The stories
If you have a heart, they will get to you. You will feel for this women, who told their experiences and life story. You will feel the injustices done there. And not only to just these women. It happens everywhere. The women in the book with the voice are portraying a very large group of women in the same position everywhere on this earth. In the Netherlands where I live one third of the calls to police are about domestic violence. Think about that. It's a big problem in every society.

My opinion
The reason I rate it a 4 is despite the errors in the book and me just getting the book for free.
I rated it four for other reasons. For starters, the subject. There can't be enough books about domestic violence and the maltreatment of women world wide. I liked the letter approach, giving multiple women a voice. This subject is something I care about greatly.

I even have it as a subject for a fourth e book. I started that one first, but I got stuck and realised later it wasn't supposed to be the first. But one day it will be out there and then I will add 'My Whispers of Horror' on the reference page.

The only thing that struck a sore nerve with me were in the letters of the authors. The sentences where they deminished it happening in for example Europe. To them it was 'nothing' compared to how things go in the countries they talk about. I can't agree on that and to be honoust, it even hurted me, but that's a different subject I won't go into more indepth.
I leave it with: they are wrong for deminishing or calling it nothing compared to.
Profile Image for Nat Harward.
65 reviews5 followers
April 29, 2020
In the intro, the publishers set up that they self published this because they couldn't get anyone else to publish it. It is their positions that these stories MUST be told so they made it happen.

The same tone of desperation, no-one-will-help-us-ness is the experience of reading the rest of the book.

There were brief moments where the women inspired me by showing great courage and willingness to take on the challenges in their lives ... to break the system, swim upstream and stand up for themselves. But most of their words are complaints. I am not condoning the behavior of anyone in the book. What I am saying is that complaints don't move the world forward. Complaints generate more resignation and the sensation that "this is how it is AND there's nothing we can do about it."

A good amount of time I was distracted by the lack of line and copy editing. Lots of publishing errors, extra/wasted words and poor diction/syntax. "But these are the letters word for word!" I doubt it. I bet many were written in Russian/Ukranian and translated into English, so the translators could have really given us a break with efficiency.

Either way, if the intention of the book is to mobilize the world to create a new existence for people in Russia/Ukraine, then it is better to make some adjustments to the letters that serve the readers rather than giving us the unaltered mess to read through. They could publish another edition that's called "The Letters, Raw & Untouched" with their original Russian/Ukrainian versions.

I sit on the board of a nonprofit that does work to support orgs in Ukraine that work with women who have left abusive relationships and their families, and now I have a clearer view of not just the outward circumstances and behaviors we are out to transform, but also many of the caustic mindsets and beliefs that set the context for all of these behaviors and outcomes to occur inside of.
Profile Image for Kathleen Kelly.
1,326 reviews112 followers
July 29, 2016

My first thought after reading this book was wow, wow because I realized how easy I have had it after 31 years of marriage. Even though there were problems in the marriage that are always there, money, children and other assorted issues that two people will have living together. The true stories portrayed in this small but powerful book, will make you think twice about what you have ever known about women around the world or even things you didn't know. It seems to me that women living in the ex USSR are still treated like they were in medieval times and the continuing themes I found in reading this book was that the men are lazy, don't want to work and drink to excess which leads to mistreatment of their wives, girlfriends and children. This is a quick but not lighthearted read, as each letter is a bit worse than the one before. A lot of the women in these mentally and physically abusive relations have had a happy ending, meaning that they were able to get out, but most have not and just go on trying their best to cope with what they are dealt with. I think that this is a book to be read by women and men both and to open our eyes to what women in other countries are suffering by the hands of their father's, husband's and finally their government.

I have included a few of the letters from the book here in the hopes that we as women can do something, even just passing along word that these women need to be treated with the dignity and respect that they deserve.

Profile Image for Ann Smith.
73 reviews3 followers
November 6, 2013
This book was very eye opening. The stories were told by letters sent in by the abused women themselves.

The really crazy thing is the fact that I have two Russian sister in laws (don't ask!) and I never realized that this was going on in their country.
I have heard them say before "men are different there because women outnumber them so much that the women have to settle." However, I had no idea the extent they were talking about. At all.
My heart truly broke for every women who had no choice but to live in those circumstances.

I will be recommending this book to everyone I know.
Thanks go to the people who took the time to tell their story and the author/publisher for telling putting it all together. Everyone needs to know about this!
60 reviews1 follower
September 6, 2016
Haunting and frightful. Well written even as a translation, although could have done better with the editing.
Profile Image for Nour.
2 reviews
August 19, 2020
it.s very nice
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Guy.
1 review
November 3, 2021
it was a book and it was OUT OF PAPER NOT METEL YYYYYYYYY
Profile Image for Carolina.
37 reviews27 followers
February 27, 2014
I received this book through a GoodReads First-reads giveaway.

‘In all of your situations you can find a solution that is the right decision for your life’. And with that quote from one of the stories start. It’s a phrase that covers mainly the thought of fighting, these women, who became his battle cry. Beginning because it is a book perfectly compiled, written with the simplicity that we all have to talk, but with a very large emotional burden in itself.

I find it unacceptable that in this century with so many discoveries, where man can communicate in only a small piece of plastic and metal that fits in the palm of the hand, a century where miracle medical and technology have happened. It’s truly amazing (of very bad way), which exist women who may tell this kind of horrors, women like me or any other, with dreams, plans for a great future are victims of a full company of prejudice, lack of respect for the woman, dehumanization, but the sad thing is that many are in the hands of people who should protect them.

It broke my heart to read every story, emotions embodied in letters, women who opened their hearts and lives, which had its own horrors, in a conversation with the reader of them, so close that sometimes I felt I should tell them something, in other impressed, but almost always wanted to give a hug to comfort them. In the end, he could also see that behind those little personal hells, there were growths are examples and witnesses of struggle.

Personally, I've never been through something similar, I have loving family, friends who love me, people who respect me; despite all this I still could understand and feel them in the heart. I have enormous admiration for each woman in their constant struggle, even with the ghosts of his past.

I thank Chris and Olga Brine by this compiled story that touched my heart deeply, also thank you Brine Books Publisingh for giving me a copy of this book.

‘In all of your situations you can find a solution that is the right decision for your life’ , that's one of the great lessons that left me.
November 5, 2013
Tears flowed.

Through a collection of short stories/essays - this book shines the light on the horrible domestic violence crimes Russia and Ukraine women faced from abusive and alcoholic husbands – who took the vow to love and protect them, and not beat them until they die or wish they were dead. What adds insult to injury is that the majority of these women with children had nowhere to turn to escape the living hell. No child should ever have to return home after an Easter holiday to a beaten and dead mom lying in a pool of blood. No teenager should ever be driven to a life of prostitution, drugs and alcohol; because it is a better choice than staying home and watching your drunk Dad molest you and beat your mom.
No woman should ever be hated and ostracized because of her sexual orientation.
You will not be able to read one single story in this collection without having a box of tissues handy.

A great writer once advised that the reason we should share our stories, good or bad, is because they can help us heal and that they may help someone else to heal.

My heartfelt wish is that each woman who had the courage to share their story, is that they begin a journey to healing. My wish is that everyone that reads this book carries out the spirit of compassion and speaks out against injustice in whichever part of the world it occurs.
I won’t soon forget these women, the stories they shared, and the sacrifices that they made to provide a better life for themselves and their children.

This book is a must read for anyone who desires to begin a journey of healing from a painful chapter in their life.

As a side note: I don’t in anyway feel sorry for these men because there is never an excuse to beat women. However, a follow-up book or an inclusion in a later version might explain why alcoholism and abuse is so common, and might offer solutions as to how as a society we can combat the deadly disease of alcoholism.
1 review
April 15, 2014
When I learned I had won this book I was extremely excited. Entering into it, I knew it was going to be a hard read emotionally. Little did I know that I would not be able to put it down. I found myself immersed in the book, faced with the horrors women have suffered as if they had written the letter personally for me. The entire book flowed, not a single part made it hard to be interested in. Many parts were shocking and absolutely horrifying but served as a good wake-up call. This book sets forth to do one thing, as it has been made clear, and it does just that. It opens your eyes to the terrible fates many women suffer through still around the world and gives a voice to those who have only learned silence. As women in places where we have equal rights, it's almost hard to imagine living through these situations and this book provides a way for us to understand. By gaining knowledge we can then hopefully contribute to being a voice for those who have been silent. Was it hard to read due to emotions at many points? Yes. Especially when it came to situations that some of us may know personally, such as abuse or rape. Was it worth it to read? Definitely. This is one book that I will read over and over again, as well as lend out to friends and encourage others to buy it so we can keep spreading awareness and maybe make a difference.
Profile Image for Kate Hearn.
171 reviews7 followers
April 12, 2014
***I won this book in a Goodreads Giveaway****

This not a light or easy read. This is an upsetting and somewhat depressing (while being enlightening at the same time). The book consists of letters written by women in Russia and the Ukraine. The story is similar in many of the letters. Abusive drunk husbands treating their wives like shit. Little girls growing up dreaming of prince charming, and setting their dreams aside for men who seem great until after the wedding.

I was not aware how different lives are for women in the ex ussr. They really do seem to be living how women here lived in the 40s. The fact that the police are so corrupt and do nothing is shocking. I am ever greatful to live in Canada and not have to worry that tomorrow I might not wake up since my husband decided to beat me
Profile Image for Caro.
368 reviews20 followers
February 2, 2015
This book is hard, is difficult to read and is important. There can be grammar mistakes while making the translation, maybe even in the original language and from the same woman who wrote the book. Let´s remember that most of them do not have a good quality of life, some never went to University and some still suffering. The main point of the book is to read these stories, to understand that in the XXI Century with a world that claim that there is women power there still regions of this world that women's voices are transform into whispers, the stories are a shocking reality that women need to confront and those of us who have the privilege to live in better conditions most appreciate it.
Profile Image for Peggy.
53 reviews1 follower
January 29, 2014
What an important book to share with the world! The stories are heartbreaking and most "Westerners" have no idea the horrors that exist in other parts of the world. Just recently in the news Alexander Arefyev the men's skiing coach publicly expressed that women should not downhill ski but instead stay home and "focus on doing housework and having children". I think that attitude is perfectly reflected in this book. About a year ago I read another very good book titled "A weak American in Russia & Ukraine". I was shocked to read about the social problems in these countries. The cycle of violence and alcoholism is mindbogglingly. I highly recommend this book!!
September 5, 2014
Women who are in such difficult situations which are described in this book do not need much compassion as support, they feel alone and abandoned by everyone, with no place to go for help and advice...
The rights of women, their place in the couple and society are not to be ignored.
Very strong and touching book, with passages sometimes difficult to read but very important issues within our society. We must not remain silent in front of domestic violence. Think about our surroundings, our friends, our future generations.
Profile Image for Liza.
268 reviews
September 5, 2014
The stories are sad. I do not wish these situations on anyone. It is sad that women as made to be inferior to men when women are just as important to survival as the man.

With that said, I will say that the stories were repetitive. They women could have switched lives and you would have known know different. I am sure, for the women who submitted their essays, feel a little lighter to know they finally got there story out to the masses.
March 6, 2014
I received this book through a giveaway.

Being a fan of horror stories for a long time I thought nothing could shake me.But giving the thought that all the tales published in here are real I was deeply affected.
Profile Image for Aleia.
8 reviews1 follower
August 9, 2015
Difficult but necessary

This book was incredibly emotional and I found myself only able to read a few chapters a day. While it was sad and disheartening every woman should read this book.
Profile Image for Mark.
50 reviews
December 11, 2013
This is probably one of the toughest books to read. Not because of the style of writing but every single one of the letters is a fresh heartbreak.
Profile Image for Cherise.
60 reviews
December 21, 2013
Very powerful sad truth on what woman still to this day go through in other countries. If your brave enough to read it prepare your self for tears and severe anger after every letter.
11 reviews48 followers
February 14, 2014
This is not a bed time read. Very informative What these women went through was just horrible. I am glad I won this book I probably would not have read it if I hadn't. I really recommend it.
Profile Image for Jujhar Singh.
116 reviews1 follower
September 20, 2014
Oh gosh. I can't believe that so many women have to suffer through this torture. We still have so far to go as a species
Profile Image for Mel.
338 reviews18 followers
Want to read
October 16, 2014
Only $2.99 on Amazon... Should I? Hmmm
Displaying 1 - 27 of 27 reviews

Can't find what you're looking for?

Get help and learn more about the design.