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  • Author or Editor: Patrizia Romito x
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Hidden violence against women and children

This book is born of a contradiction: on the one hand, there has been a genuine advance in the awareness of violence against women and children and actions to oppose it. On the other, the violence persists and so does the counter-attack against those who seek to expose it.

Patrizia Romito’s extraordinary book describes the links between discrimination, violence against women and violence against children and, uniquely, uncovers the strategies and tactics used for concealing it. Her analysis, corroborated by a solid theoretical framework as well as up-to-date international research data, powerfully reveals the interconnectedness of what might appear as separate events or measures. The book also demonstrates how the same tactics and strategies are at work in various different countries.

Written in a clear and direct style, the book is an essential tool for anyone - professional, researcher or activist - wanting to understand male violence against women and children and to oppose it.

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This chapter studies violence and discrimination against women. It discusses the presence and absence of figures and statistics on violence against women, and summarises the frequency of some types of violence. The chapter then provides some figures on discrimination, before finally looking at the connections between discrimination and violence. It concludes with a model that can be used to understand male violence.

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This chapter briefly explains the theoretical references forming the context of and guiding the author’s work. It reviews some of the practices that characterise the analysis of the oppression of women, which are very relevant for studying violence. The chapter studies the contribution of epistemological reflection, psychology, and social science. It includes a section on an international approach to violence against women and children.

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This chapter examines the various tactics for hiding male violence. The term ‘tactics’ is defined as mental operations that materialise in behaviour. The first section studies the politics of language and how the dehumanising of victims occurs. Blaming the victims, psychologising, naturalising, distinguishing, and separating are other examples of these tactics, which are discussed in detail in this chapter.

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This chapter focuses on the different hiding strategies of male violence. It shows that the two principal strategies are denying and legitimising. The first section discusses legitimising male violence in the family and outside the family. The next section focuses on denial, which includes discussions on legislation on joint custody and denying incest in practice.

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This introductory chapter discusses violence against women and children, starting with the trends in the different types of violent crime. It then looks at the 2000 campaign of the European Union against domestic violence, ‘Break the silence’. The chapter moves on to examine the theory and practice that is used in this book.

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This chapter briefly concludes with an assessment of the struggle to prevent male violence. The author presents an account where one of her students recalled that prior to her lecture, he had thought that rape was nothing serious. The chapter also considers the double meaning of the tragedy of the murders of wives and companions. The increasing awareness of the rights of women and children is also studied.

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Looking for support has a central role in the process of escaping violence. This study aims to investigate which sources of help women victims of intimate partner violence (IPV) contacted before arriving at an anti-violence centre (AVC), and to analyse the links with the women’s characteristics, their history of violence and the involvement of children. A cross-sectional study was conducted among 151 women arriving at five AVCs in Italy, where they filled in a self-administered questionnaire. Women reported high levels of violence; children were closely involved. Only two women reported no previous contact with sources of help; 33.1 per cent of the sample contacted four or more sources. Non-Italian women were more likely to contact four or more sources of help; having children was linked to more contacts with social workers; more severe violence was linked to more contacts with law enforcement agents. When children were involved in violence, the odds ratio for contacting four or more sources of help increased significantly, also after controlling for women’s nationality (adjusted odds ratio 9.47, p<0.05). This study provides evidence of the active behaviour of victims of violence and of the role played by children’s involvement in women’s help-seeking behaviour.

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The aims of this qualitative study were to describe sexual harassment (SH) as experienced by young Italian women in the workplace and to analyse their reactions and forms of resistance. A sample of 20 university students who mostly held casual jobs was recruited at one university and interviewed in 2017–18; the transcriptions were analysed using a thematic method.

Respondents experienced multiple forms of SH, from sexual comments and requests to physical contacts, carried out by male employers, co-workers and customers. Often SH had a pronounced pornographic nature, and occasionally women were treated as ‘prostitutes’; dress-code implied ‘dressing sexily’, and becomes a form of SH.

All women evaluated these behaviours as inappropriate, but no one considered making a formal complaint. They reported confusion, attempts to minimise, going along with a smile, asking the help of colleagues, and using the boyfriend as a protector. Few took direct actions such as confronting the harassers, retaliating or complaining to the employer. Notwithstanding the hostility and humiliation experienced, the young women interviewed retained a strong sense of their dignity as workers, which can count as another form of resistance to a system that consistently tries to objectify them and disqualify them as workers.

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This study explores how women’s fear is related to violence by a partner during the COVID-19 lockdown in Italy. Data come from a sample of 238 women, attending five anti-violence centres in June–September 2020, 44 per cent were cohabiting and 56 per cent not cohabiting with the perpetrator. A questionnaire administered by the advocates allowed us to collect information about several types of violence and their evolution during the lockdown, the feeling of fear, the impossibility of going out alone and help-seeking strategies.

Most of these women lived with the fear of their aggressor, more often if they cohabited with him, 76 per cent instead of 57 per cent if not. Despite this high prevalence, the main determinants of not going out alone or help-seeking were the intensity of violence and its increase during the lockdown more than the women’s fear, even if the cohabitation status is considered.

Fear strongly impairs the quality of daily life. In the context of this pandemic, it was an addition to the various damages exerted by the violence, coupled for some women with difficult social conditions. Professionals working with these women should consider fear but keep in mind that the factor to suppress is the violence.

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