Abuse can be a catalyst for personal and social transformation

Updated: Jul 3

Social transformations occur when 'survivors' tell about their experiences and take other actions that enlighten others, obtain justice, and prevent recurrences of similar events.

What is abuse?

Abuse begins as a child and it is difficult to understand because children trust adults, it is the only world they know and do not have the tools to understand what is happening to them.

Then, children grow up, became adults.

And so, some of us, throughout our lives, find ourselves trapped in unhealthy relationships without, often, understanding why.

I understood abuse in mature age. In 2015 I fell in love with Laszlo.

Then, as the days went by, our relationship became more and more violent.

For the first time I am able to observe my situation.

I listen to my inner voice, I observe my thoughts, I feel my negative emotions, I am present and I do not understand why I am in love with a man who tells me - "I love you"but then 'he treats me badly'.

With my camera I feel the urge to want to explore what is love and I look for encounters who I can talk with.

love, sex and relationships is a video-photography project that was born from an abusive romantic relationships with my ex partner.

Episodes of physical and psychological aggression are repeated continuously. Added to this are the constant discussions, threats and humiliations.

Slowly I begin to realise the automatic mechanisms of thought, defence and my emotions explode. I begin to look at my anger, violence, discomfort, confusion. The situation causes me high stress and pain.

I often feel empty and misunderstood.

I am constantly talking to myself.

Sometimes I visit Claudia, my best friend in Mile End and tell her my story.

I take a bottle of wine with me. We talk for hours.

She advises me to leave him, to get myself out of the situation.

But I don't see what she sees.

I was so attached to that pain that I could not separate myself from it and did not recognise it.
I had lost my self-esteem.
I thought there was something wrong with me and not with him.
He said he loved me. I was attracted and attached to it.

One day I start writing a lot of questions on a piece of paper.

The first is - what is love?

I decide to leave the house, with my cameras in search of dialogue, intimate conversations.

For the first time I wonder what I'm experiencing, if this arguing, blaming, taking offence, hitting each other, not understanding was what I call love.

Many of us treat each other like this, we hide, we scream, we shut ourselves up. We don't face our fears. It will be due to our deepest insecurities, the ones we know we have and don't want to see.

In love, sex and relationships I meet other couples and individuals who I interview, listen to and take photographs of.

What is abuse?

Abuse in a relationship is more frequent than one might think.

A parent, brother, sister, a friend can abuse us.

And we of them.

Sometimes others don't know they are abusing you.

And you don't know you're abusing them.

It can happen in both cases.

There are very complex automatic mechanisms of thought and behaviour that we are not aware of.

Sometimes we understand the discomfort and move away, other times we stay in unhealthy situations hoping that 'they can change'.

Situations often repeat themselves over time.

Even with different partners, the energy of the relationship is the same, it does not change.

Why? Have you ever asked yourself?

Our husband or wife, our child, we ourselves can harm ourselves.

Abuse kills.

There are people, even us, who are imbued with negative energy, who have been carrying around for a lifetime and who do not know it.

They don't know because they have never been able to see themselves from the outside.

Growing up with an abusive parent changes you in ways you don't know.

The person who is supposed to love you unconditionally is the same person who makes your life hell.

If one parent does this what can others do?

A parent who forces you into such an environment is as if he were stealing your childhood. Because it forces you to stay at its level.

If he can't control himself/herself, you have to try to control him/her.

There are no safe havens to cling to.

You start to lie.

Many times, if we are born in a violent environment, with violent parents, we grow up violent and fearful or seek violent relationships because this is what we have experienced.

Many times we can't get out of it.

One thing is certain - it's hard to detach ourselves from our pain when we experience it as one with ourselves.

Self-observation is self-correction.

It is a very complex process that requires work and time.

Photography can certainly help.

It can make us become the observer of ourselves just as the photographer observes reality and decides what to keep and not in a photograph.

Have you ever been able to look at yourself from the outside?
What have you seen of yourself?

Abusive are all those behaviours, repeated and systematic, which harm the partner's self-esteem, sense of security and identity by limiting his activities and social contacts, humiliating him/her, punishing him/her by making him/her feel guilty and maintaining his/her fear and submission with threats and verbal assaults.

Very often there is difficulty on the part of the victim to come out and that can be attributable to fear and / or lack of awareness.

Psychological violence is one of the many forms of violence that can occur within a relationship.

In the case of a love relationship, women are more victims of it.

Psychological violence represents a real form of maltreatment whose consequences can be just as devastating for those who suffer it, compared to those caused by physical violence.

However, compared to the latter, the signs of which are often visible, psychological violence frequently remains hidden, unrecognised or underestimated.

Examples include offences, accusations, threats, insults, humiliations, devaluations, social isolation, limitation of liberty, control, prohibitions from associating with friends and relatives, exclusion from important decisions affecting the family or couple, failure to assist in the event of illness or need.

It then has a recursive character, develops over time in a crescendo of gravity and can follow a cyclical trend, in which the aggressions alternate with moments of calm and reconciliation. It becomes a succession of humiliations, which can include direct personal insults ("you are ugly", "you are stupid", "you do not understand anything"), devaluations related to social roles ("you are worth nothing as a partner / mother / worker"), devaluations of the results achieved (in study or work), ridicule in public, forms of generalised control (monitoring of movements, relationships, social channels, emails, telephones, passwords, expenses, clothing), accusations and attribution of blame by the abuser with respect to the behavior he acted on ("it's your fault if I do this", "if you were different this wouldn't happen"), threats of direct repercussions towards you, your children, or your social network (family, friend, work) if the victim does not obey the dictates of the abuser.

Hence the fear, the lack of self-esteem, the wrong perception of one's identity and the feeling of being increasingly inadequate, guilty, incapable.

Hence the pain.

Which of you has had abusive relationships?
Do you want to talk about it?

If you are being abused or if you experienced abuse in the past, there are many factors to consider when deciding whether to talk to someone about it.

You might feel embarrassed, ashamed, or afraid that you will be blamed for what happened to you. You might be afraid that your abusive partner will find out. On the other hand, it can be very helpful to talk with someone about your experiences.

Another person may be able to…

• Offer you support

• Help you to plan for safety

• Help you to access resources

• Support you in making difficult decisions

• Help you to understand how the abuse has affected your physical and mental health

If it’s safe to do so, you might want to try writing down your thoughts and concerns about talking to someone. Remember, only you can decide whether and when to talk to someone about being abused.

Here is my mail loredenicola@gmail.com

P.S. To support the production of the book of love, sex and relationships here is the link of the landing page on my website where you can add your email and follow future updates.

Thank you, Loredana Denicola

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