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Behind closed doors: battling domestic violence in Bosnia

Confined to her home, it took Mary three decades of relentless marital abuse - violence, humiliation, isolation and control - before she finally broke cover and rang Bosnian police.

Officers dismissed her story as trivial.

"One policeman even told me: 'So what, I also slap my wife sometimes,'" said Mary, from the safety of a shelter for women and children in the central Bosnian city of Zenica.

Mary had been locked indoors and slapped around for years, pelted with beer bottles, drinking glasses and even forced to stand on one leg to amuse her husband's drinking buddies.

Contact with the outside world was strictly forbidden so the call she made for help in 2011 was a bold breach of rules.

"He used to forbid me to go out," recalled the 56-year-old, who declined to give her real name.

"I would run away, I would hide... I hid everywhere... At my neighbours' houses, in their basements...

"Horrible things followed."

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