Far too often during my career, I have met female clients seeking legal separation and protection from their husbands. Even after many years of practice, I am still shocked at the level of violence and the abuse of power that occurs in the family home.
Some women say they tolerated violent behavior at the beginning of their relationship because they thought it was part of their partner’s natural temperament, others reason that perhaps in Italy people raise their voices because they are passionate about what they are saying. But it is one thing to shout during an argument and it is quite another to verbally offend, psychologically damage and physically abuse one’s partner. Violence is not only physical aggression that leaves visible bruises and scars; often it is subtler and less visible. Violence is when a man uses financial power to keep a woman under his control, such as when the male works and the female takes care of the family and therefore depends economically on him. Being forced to have a lengthy discussion every time you need 20 euro for your personal things (and sometimes even for food and school supplies) is humiliating and is a form of psychological violence that can hurt your self-esteem. Having to fight every day because the man in your life is jealous about messages you receive from your coworkers, to the point that he starts stalking you, is never OK. Any behavior that isolates you, making it hard for you to maintain contact with your home, family and cultural background is a form of violence too.