Friday, December 3

Vicarious violence: the most cruel and common way to make a woman suffer

Vicarious violence is an insufferable, bloody and delusional aspect of the violence that is exerted against women. The work Battered mothers: vicarious violence against daughters and sons Winner of the Victoria Kent Prize, it is one of the books that best brings us closer to this form of violence.

Instrumentalizing sons and daughters to inflict pain and increase control over women is one of the most extreme and brutal forms of gender-based violence. Despite the great ignorance that exists about it, it is one of the common types of violence that is rarely reported. It is not an isolated violence, but the culmination of a process of control and mistreatment that women often suffer.

There are not a few expert voices that denounce that in judicial practice gender violence continues to be dissociated from certain actions perpetrated against minors, with the exception of those cases in which, due to their cruelty and transcendence, makes this link easier to verify.

There is no doubt that in the present case there is a double victim affected by violence: the sons and daughters, on whom the abuse and assaults are directly exercised, on the one hand, and the mother, an indirect victim of the violence exercised on their descendants, of another.

The minors, more invisible than their mothers

In this process, the child victims often end up being more invisible than their own mothers and are the instrument used by the parents in order to control and dominate their partners and ex-partners without the need to physically attack them.

Faced with the obstacles that the laws and justice impose on them, men who abuse through these practices seek to continue practicing violence against their partner or ex-partner through the most vulnerable link: their sons and daughters.

In this way, we find men who during the couple’s cohabitation relationship never took care of their sons and daughters but who, with the breakdown of the cohabitation relationship with the couple, request custody (shared or full) or else an extensive visitation regime. All this, in order to maintain contact with the ex-partner and to be able to continue exercising a practice of abuse, in many cases through the minors.

44 minor fatalities

The number of minor fatalities in cases of gender-based violence against mothers in Spain began to be officially recorded in 2013. The number of officially verified cases accumulated so far it is 44 people. If we look at this record, we see that 21 of these cases (almost half) were people under six years of age.

In 2021 the media have echoed some of these cases, such as that of Anna y Olivia. However, we cannot lose sight of the fact that this phenomenon has a more far-reaching dimension.

The official statistics to which we have just referred are only the tip of the iceberg, in view of the rest of situations with similar characteristics that remain anonymous, situations that lead to a silent ignorance of creatures that suffer the type of mistreatment to which we are referring and that do not always have all the institutional support that would be necessary to guarantee effective protection.

During 2015 in Spain a series of legislative reforms that expanded protection measures for minors and adolescents. However, these reforms have not always led to an effective increase in protection measures.

In fact, according to data from the General Council of the Judiciary, in Spain only in slightly less than 2% of cases of gender violence have been ordered to suspend the visitation regimeIn the same way that there are also very few judges who have ordered the withdrawal of guard and custody of the aggressors as a precautionary measure to protect minors. In addition, there is a great disparity in the application of protection measures depending on the judicial body that has powers to resolve.

Fines and warnings for female victims

And, in the meantime, while this serious deficiency is not corrected, some of the women who protect their daughters and sons must face periodic penalty payments, warnings of changes of custody and, in the worst case, changes of custody and convictions of custody. imprisonment and fine for the crime of serious disobedience to authority.

We will have to make a great effort of collective reflection and demand, at the very least, specialized training that incorporates the gender perspective in the instruction received by legal operators with a view to increasing effectiveness in detecting the nuances of this type of violence, as recommended by multiple expert voices. Since, as it points Carmen Peral Lopez, “The law may be fair, but if its application is not, what use is it to us?”

Empar Aguado Bloise, Professor of the Department of Sociology and Social Anthropology – Member of the University Institute for Women’s Studies (IUED), University of Valencia

This article was originally published on The Conversation. read the original.

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