Of friends and violence

Please also read: 1 in 4 women

I noticed I faff around a lot. I prefer abstract to solid. However, following Refuge on Twitter I realised concealed silence, and faffing around, helps no-one. Organizations like Refuge, which can never receive enough support, do. Talking about it, instead of keeping it quiet, does. I have often wondered why we so easily talk about all the tragedies around the world and far from us, but we all find it so difficult to talk about our own. In the same way, we are all too willing to fight to help those abused or mistreated everywhere, except “in our back yard”. When people all around you are suffering abuse, you will usually be the last to know, either because they won’t tell you, or because you don’t want to know. So, they are often helpless and it weren’t for outside organizations, or the friend or relative who decides to stop pretending nothing’s happening and acts, these people wouldn’t stand a chance.

So here is some speaking up. This is some of V.’s story. Let’s start from the end. V. had a good friend, P., one she cared about, who after much adventure and romance and fun became her partner. They had two children and an abortion, due to rape, and he alternated being fiercely and happily violent and homicidal with tenderness and hippydom and the most far reaching and beautiful ideas on life, the universe and everything. One day he tried to strangle her in front of her boys and that’s when she knew she’d give up, despite alcohol abuse organization volunteers telling her to “hang on, save your marriage”, and beg for help from the one friend who’d recently come to see her from Geneva, C. All her relatives and friends were distant, in one way or another. Her friend came in her junky yellow car, loaded V. and the two tiny boys and all they could carry into it, and they drove away. They drove to another friend of V.’s, G. who let them stay in their basement flat until they found a house, and some work, in the remotest wildest part of Tuscany, 2 1/2 miles in each direction to the nearest asphalt road. Despite the distance, the man P. managed to get himself invited for peace talks, on condition of no alcohol consumption (alcohol was his excuse to lose control), he called to say he was coming, was told not to, due to having drunk (V. could tell from just two words on the phone), arrived anyway hitch-hiking his way with words, proceeded to terrorise the women and threaten to kill C., V.’s friend, with a large kitchen knife. Fortunately the two little boys were sleeping. Police was called by V. while P. was distracted “teasing” C., Carabinieri arrived as soon as 10 miles of dirt road allowed. Carabiniere talked to P., then sent him to bed, told them “Admittedly he comes across as very reasonable”. Saint Maresciallo however left his radio, for the women to call him if needed, and stationed himself outside, just out of sight, with his Appuntato, until the morning, then gave P. a lift to the station. More ensued, but that was, finally, the point of no return for V. There were still moments of wonder if, perhaps we could… but she would never have him back. Is this hard to understand? I will explain, bit by bit, in future posts. Because many people don’t really understand what goes through the minds and hearts of abused women. A friend of V.’s told her just the other day, when she innocently asked how P. was doing, as last she’d heard from him he’d sounded ok, he was talking of being able to work more and being able to give her some money at last, that he was out on bail, accused of rape. Also, he was on his third drinking and dangerous driving offence. Your deeds always catch up with you, sooner or later. But not so many get away.


2 thoughts on “Of friends and violence

  1. I came here from the Refuge Facebook. I just wanted to say thanks for sharing this.

    I was in an abusive relationship with a guy who, like P, was very charismatic and able to come across as ‘a really nice guy’ whenever he wanted to. Consequently, the police and courts treated him very lightly when it came to prosecuting him, although the evidence was overwhelming enough that he was convicted. One reason I didn’t leave earlier was because I thought that no one would believe me, since he was obviously such a nice guy. I thought he’d end up with all the friends, and I’d end up with nobody.

    I think services have to be aware that violent men often come across as very nice, calm and reasonable, and that that’s just another tactic they’re able to use to get away with it.

    Glad to hear that V got away from all that.


    1. Hi Leila, thank you and yes, I agree, it needs to be talked about because too many people think of violent abusive relationships only happening in certain environments, and by (mostly) men who are obviously and clearly violent bastards, and therefore people say: well, it’s her choice in the end, why does she put up with him? It is so much more complex than that, so much more widespread, and so much more subtle. I wish I could do more to help in this awareness, I can only act little by little. We should make others aware of the crap that goes on behind some “nice” appearances.
      I am also glad you speak in the past tense, hope life is going better for you now 🙂


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