Another week, another woman murdered
– It was only a smack on her face! Nothing happened – He told.
– What do you think about those men who beat women? – I asked.
– Are you insinuating that I am an abuser? – He asked back.
– No! I am only asking your opinion about aggressive behavior towards women…
– Oh! You are one of those Spanish feminists! – He sentenced.
We are emotional! We shout each other! We love each other in a way that you probably never have experienced in your life! – I am not a wife beater! I am here (therapy) only because it will allow me to return to my partner, the love of my life – he added.
Photo: II International Seminary of Domestic Violence. Madrid.
I work in social affairs, I´ve been here last three years and a few months, spending 8 hours per day behind this desk. A few words as youth employment, social analysis, social protection, social inclusion, rights… sound familiar to us. I love work with youngsters and children, also families. They have become my passion; some days are good, other days are honestly terrible. One thing that you learn fast in social affairs is that “troubles come all together”, and they tend to mix, creating terrible scenarios.
We are used to words as rape, verbal violence, discrimination, fear to be beaten, fear to be murdered, desolation, suicide or guilty. And then, I finish my workday; take my coat, lock the door and I go home, trying to focus my attention on positive and beautiful things, because as my friends say – It´s a job.
I live in one of the safest areas in my country – less than 25 offenses per 1,000 residents (the third safest country in all Europe). People here are especially kind, smiley and polite, and honestly this is how we feel this society – We are pacific people!
But then, I wake up, get dressed, take the bus and grab a coffee in my favorite Cafetería at 7:50 a.m. I have a look to the newspaper, – There is another one! – The owner (and already friend) tells me the news and offers cookies. Other women has been murdered, victim of domestic violence.
– How many murdered women have you met (personally)? – I said, four.
– How many women victims of abuse have you met? – I couldn´t count them.
Four, four… four! – Now it´s 12:00 a.m and “El País” says that another woman has been found dead in South Spain. And another one in a city nearby, so maybe now they are already five.
A psychological trap disguised as love
A trap that can happen to everyone – All races, all religions, all educational levels and socio-economical status, because it´s everywhere; men also suffer, although domestic violence has been framed and understood as a women´s issue. Men also suffer but they never report physical abuse, because simply they can be mocked and ridiculed. It’s a social problem; it follows also the “Machismo Thing”.
Then I realized that maybe these high percentages are due to my job, and so I started to ask about this topic in groups and classrooms and informal meetings.
– Do you know someone victim of domestic violence? – Hands up
– Did you know someone murdered, victim of domestic violence? – Hands up
– Do you know someone close that maybe can suffer domestic violence? – Hands up
I took my phone and I called to a friend, who is working with this topic. The statistics of the CIS (Centro de Investigaciones Sociológicas) points that “in Spain exists a misconception of gender violence among young people, and that their emotional and social relationships are somehow based upon discriminatory behavior”.
– How can this cancer be still alive and hidden in our society? – It appears that we are doing something wrong. – But look at other countries! In Uk YouGov showed that last year 45,000 incidents of domestic violence and 3,000 rapes were reported. It is a global problem.
So we asked to youngsters:
– Do you think that a man should be dominant, powerful and sexual? A few hands up
– Do you think that a man should be aggressive? Nobody agree
– Do you think that a woman should be passive, pure and obedient? Nobody agree and they felt hurt, especially girls (Galician daughters of matriarchy).
So officially, they recognize that gender roles and sexism are not longer acceptable, but at the same time is culturally acceptable (30%) define a man as dominant and sexual – “machito ibérico”, and a woman as beautiful (60%). However, we have a controversial issue here, because in north Spain “the matriarchy” is still present in some communities. The university of North Carolina came to our region to do a research on this topic (The myth of matriarchy: symbols of womanhood in Galician regional identity).
Here starts a controversial matter due that by the 1960 social values in Spain started to change SO FAST until today; the change is a shift from a traditional hierarchical patriarchal style of family to the egalitarian.
The reality in Spain points that two very different ideologies still co-exist, and both collide.
Photo: A very, very familiar woman casting her vote. 1933 (Spain)
Misconceptions about love and passion in relationships
People who regard their partners as a property and must be controlled aren´t passionate partners but abusers. Even if he or she is affectionate and passionately loving, it´s never an excuse to abuse verbally or physically other person; no one deserves being beaten up or mentally tortured, it doesn´t exist any provocation for this behavior. People victims of abuse never should blame themselves; there is never any justification for violence.
Victims decide stay at violent homes due to different reasons, terror or love; it is not about choose a comfortable life. They may be worried about their children, their possessions or fear to isolation or solitude.
Domestic violence is not usually a one-term incident, is not always physical but a pattern of behavior in which one exerts power/control over the other – verbal abuse, isolation, reproductive coercion, financial control and threats. Reproductive abuse can also occur in a marriage.
In Spain, in contrast to other countries, sometimes both parties (woman and man) get into a physical fight in violent situations. However that is neither an excuse, nobody can think and hit someone at the same time; violence always engenders violence.
Four, four… four!
I never regarded myself as one of «those spanish feminists» but as one of those women who believe in positive change. To my great grandmother.