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DOMESTIC PSYCHOLOGICAL VIOLENCE:

VOICES OF YOUTH

Researchers:
Dr. Maria Amélia Azevedo
Full Professor of IPUSP
Coordinator of LACRI /PSA-IPUSP

Dr. Viviane Nogueira de Azevedo Guerra


Researcher of LACRI /PSA-IPUSP

LACRI − CHILD STUDIES LABORATORY


IP − INSTITUTE OF PSYCHOLOGY
USP − UNIVERSITY OF SÃO PAULO
Voices of Youth

Oil on canvas, Julian Trigo, 1998.

Yout h is in t he cent er where new t hings are born,


w rote Walter Benjamin, in 1914. He soon added: once
again t here is a new generat ion t hat want s t o
overcome t he crossroads, but t he crossroads are
nowhere. [Metafísica della giov entu. Scritti 1910-1918. Turim:
Einaudi, 1982]

F ROM: LEVI , G. & SCHMITT, J.C. (1996). História dos jovens.


São Paulo: Cia. das Letras. Vols. 1/2.

And all men kill the thing they love


By all let this be heard
Some do it with a bitter look,
Some with a flattering word,
The coward does it with a kiss,
The brave man with a sword!

(Oscar Wilde − The Ballad of Reading Gaol)

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Voices of Youth

RESEARCH PARTICIPANTS

I. TEAM THAT C OLLECTED DATA

1. Ana Maria Gonzales Takahashi

2. Celso Aparecido Florêncio

3. Cristiano da Silveira Longo

4. Daniela Schwartzmann

5. Izilda Mari

6. Marisa Feffermann

II. STATISTICAL PROCESSING AND A NALYSIS OF DATA

Myrian Bizzocchi
Statistician from the Fundação Carlos Chagas

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Voices of Youth

SUMMARY

Page

I. I NTRODUCTION ............................................................................................................. 05

II. CHILDHOOD AND YOUTH : HISTORICAL CONSIDERATIONS .......................................... 07


A. Brief incursion through the History of Childhood ................................................ 07
B. Brief incursion through the History of Youth ....................................................... 13

III. DOMESTIC VIOLENCE AGAINST CHILDREN AND ADOLESCENTS:


THEORETICAL CONSIDERATIONS ................................................................................. 21

IV. DOMESTIC PSYCHOLOGICAL VIOLENCE: A CONTROVERSIAL CONCEPT ..................... 25

V. DOMESTIC PSYCHOLOGICAL VIOLENCE − VOICES OF YOUTH : RESEARCH S CENARIO 40


A. Preliminary considerations: RECOVERED V OICES ................................................... 40
B. Referential framework: RELINQUISHED V OICES ........................................................ 42
C. Methodological notes: FORGOTTEN V OICES ............................................................ 47
D. Subjects: RECUPERATED V OICES ............................................................................ 52
E. Results: REVEALING V OICES ................................................................................... 56

VI. BIBLIOGRAPHY ............................................................................................................ 115

VII. APPENDIX ..................................................................................................................... 126


INSTRUMENT ................................................................................................................. 126
INDEX OF T ABLES .......................................................................................................... 129
INDEX OF CHARTS .......................................................................................................... 131
INDEX OF FIGURES ......................................................................................................... 132

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Voices of Youth

INTRODUCTION

This research was carried out in the Pluriannual Integrated Program of


Research for the period 2000-2005, under the auspices of the Child Studies
Laboratory (LACRI) − Psychology Department of Learning, Development and
Personality (PSA) − Institute of Psychology of the University of São Paulo (IPUSP)1.

Figure 1 shows the structure of the Program.

The main objective of this Program is to answer the following key question:

 WHAT IS THE STATE OF KNOWLEDGE REGARDING MINORIZED2 BRAZILIAN


CHILDHOOD?

A discussion of the Research DOMESTIC PSYCHOLOGICAL VIOLENCE: VOICES OF


YOUTH follows, both from the view point of its historical and theoretical
considerations as well as from those which refer to the specific methodology used
and to the results obtained.

1
The complete version of this program can be found in the files of LACRI, CNP q and FAPESP .
2
It is important to point out that by “minorized childhood” we mean, along with Adorno (1991:78), the child who is deprived of
his/her fundamental rights. These rights are outlined in article 227, Chapter VII, Title VIII of Brazil’s Constitution, published
on October 5, 1988. This article states that it is the duty of society, of the family and of the State to ensure that the child and
adolescent have the right to life, nourishment, education, to a profession, culture, dignity, liberty, leisure and respect, as well
as safeguarding them from all forms of negligence, discrimination, exploitation, violence, cruelty and oppression… It can be
ascertained that the “minorized” child is precisely the one whose rights are denied, one way or another… the one whose
fundamental rights are neglected. This denial occurs either because there are rights that are not endorsed to all children,
remaining a class privilege (right to education, to health, to play, etc.) or because there are rights which are not
systematically defended for some (right to physical, psychological, sexual integrity, etc.). For this reason, at the heart of
what is understood as “minorized childhood” is also the understanding that this deleterious condition results from VIOLENCE
among SOCIAL CLASSES as well as violence within SOCIAL CLASSES . In the first case, we have “ POOR CHILDHOOD” with its
variation as to ethnic group and gender (Indian children, Negro children, prostituted children, etc.). In the second case we
have VICT IMIZED CHILDHOOD IN T HE HOME (or in other so-called institutes of protection).
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Voices of Youth

FIGURE 1
Structure of LACRI’s Pluriannual Research Program
(2000-2005)

CHILDHOOD A ND VIOLENCE IN BRA ZIL: S TA TE OF KNOWLEDGE

Key Question

WHA T IS THE STA TE OF KNOWLEDGE REGA RDING MINORIZED CHILDHOOD IN BRA ZIL ?

A B
Childhood, victim of violence within SOCIAL CLASSES Childhood, victim of violence among SOCIAL CLASSES
(Victimized Childhood in the HOME) (“Poor Children”)

Modules Modules

Project I − Childhood and Fatal Violence in the Family: First Project 1 − Abandonment of Children in Brazil
++++ approximations in Brazil +

Project II − Memories of the Past: Childhood and adolescence in the


++ life of Brazilian writers

Project III − Relationship between Family Violence and Socialization


+++ of Children

Project IV − Voices of Childhood: What children and adolescents say


+++++ about domestic corporal punishment

Proj ect V − Domestic Psychological Violence: Voices of Youth

L EGEND:
+ − Doctoral thesis defended in June 1998 at IPUSP (approved with Distinction − 10,0).
++ − Doctoral thesis defended in August 1998 at IPUSP (approved with Distinction − 10,0), to be
published in book → OLIVEIRA, M.H. Lembranças do passado: a infância na vida dos escritores
brasileiros. Bragança Paulista, S P : USF, 2001.
+++ − Report totally completed.
++++ − Report totally completed. Published through the Projeto Multimídia, integrated by:
a. AZEVEDO, M.A. & GUERRA, V.N.A. (1998). Infância e Violência Fatal em Família: primeiras
aproximações ao nível de Brasil. São Paulo: Iglu. [book]
b. AZEVEDO, M. A. & GUERRA, V.N.A. (1998). Réquiem para as pequenas vítimas PEQUENAS. São
Paulo: LACRI /IPUSP . (cd-rom)
c. AZEVEDO, M.A. & GUERRA, V.N.A. (1998). Crônicas de morte anunciada. São Paulo:
LACRI /IPUSP . (video)
+++++ − Report totally completed. Published through the Projeto Multimídia that includes:
1. AZEVEDO, M.A. & GUERRA, V.N.A. (2001). Mania de bater: a punição corporal doméstica de
crianças e adolescentes no Brasil. São Paulo: Iglu. [book]
English version:
AZEVEDO, M.A. & GUERRA, V.N.A. (2001). Hitting mania: domestic corporal punishment of
children and adolescents in Brazil. Translation Ann Puntch, Sergio Cataldi. São Paulo: Iglu.
2. AZEVEDO, M.A. & GUERRA, V.N.A. (2001). Vozes da Infância: a palmada deseduca. São Paulo:
LACRI /IPUSP e Núcleo de Cinema de Animação de Campinas. [video]
3. AZEVEDO, M.A. & GUERRA, V.N.A. (2001). Palmada já era! São Paulo: LACRI /IPUSP . [Guide
for parents and children]
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II

C HILDHOOD AND YOUTH : HISTORICAL C ONSIDERATIONS

The introduction of an emerging approach that is still in the process of


construction in terms of studying childhood and youth, has been observed from a
scientific point of view, especially in the last decade of the 20th Century. What, in fact,
is innovative about this kind of approach?
a. That childhood and youth must be understood as social constructions: the
prematurity of children and young people is a biological fact in the passage of
the ages of life of individuals, but the way in which this “prematurity” is
understood and takes on meaning is a cultural fact, which may vary from one
society to the next, making, therefore, childhood and youth social institutions;
b. that childhood and youth are not universal and sole phenomena; there is a
variety of childhoods and youths that must be understood, for instance, in relation
to class, gender, ethnic group, etc.;
c. that the relationship of childhood and youth with Culture and Society must be
studied from the particular perspective of childhood and youth and not from
an adult vision;
d. That children and young people must be seen as subjects in constructing and
determining their own lives. They are not solely objects within a social
structure.

Of course, this new perspective in the analysis of childhood and youth did not
arise spontaneously. Several areas of knowledge contributed towards this end.
History was one of them. Some notes on the SOCIAL HISTORY OF CHILDHOOD AND
YOUTH follow.

A. Brief incursion through the History of Childhood


Although there are concrete obstacles in following and retrieving the path of
childhood from Antiquity to today, due to lack of specific documentation, some
authors have risen to this task, despite difficulties encountered. The scientific work of
two of them will be emphasized, since their work also provides relevant
contributions towards understanding the phenomenon of domestic violence against
children and adolescents.
The first author is Philippe Ariès, who in his seminal treatise História Social da
Criança e da Família (1978) [L’enfant et la vie familiale sous l’Ancien Regime (1973)],
sustains the thesis that medieval society did not perceive childhood. He states:

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In the Middle Ages, in the beginning of modern times and for a long time in the low er
classes, children mix ed w ith adults as soon as they w ere able to stay on their own without their
mothers or nannies − a few y ears after a late w eaning − that is, w hen they w ere about 7 years
old. From this time on they entered immediately into the great community of mankind,
participating w ith their y oung or older friends, in the ev ery day activ ities of w ork and play. The
mov ement of collectiv e life threw together in the same current, ages and social conditions,
w ithout leav ing any one w ith time for solitude and intimacy . In these dense and collectiv e
ex istences there w as no place for a priv ate sector.

Ariès states that, at this time, the socialization of the child was not assured nor
controlled by the family. The child soon left his parents and by mingling with other
adults learned things which it should know, helping these same adults to do them.
Ariès records the existence of a superficial feeling towards the child that he calls “paparicação” (to be
babied) – reserved to small infants in their first few years of life when they are still cute little things. People played
with the child as if it were a little animal, a shameless little monkey . If it died – which was not rare –
another child would substitute it. At the age of 7, the child began living in another
house. Ariès tells us that, in this period, the feeling between parents and children,
between husband and wife, was not necessary to the existence and equilibrium of the
family: if it existed, so much the better. In reality, the exchanges of affection and social
communications occurred, therefore, outside the family, in a dense and warm environment, made up of
neighbors, friends, nannies and servants, young and old, women and men (...) The family unit was diluted in this
environment . The community prevailed over the family. Ariès notices, however, – as of
the end of the 17th Century – a brutal modification in this state of affairs. Bestowing
childhood to a separate state coincides with the transition from feudalism to
capitalism, because the growing middle classes wanted their children to be educated
in a special way, so that they would be prepared to carry out the activities required
of them as adults, as well as being able to adequately stand up to the power of
aristocracy. All this led to a school system and to the modern concept of childhood.
The child no longer mixed with adults and nor learnt about life through direct
contact with them. The schooling process begins whereby children were kept far
away – cloistered in schools – a type of quarantine, as stated by Ariès. Sending children
to schools – one of the expressions of the great movement of moralization promoted
by Catholic and Protestant reformers – could not be done without the family’s
approval. As stated by Ariès, this family transformed itself, it became the place of necessary
affection between parents themselves, and between parents and their children, something which did not exist
before. This affection was revealed, above all, through the importance given to education. But another
problem arose from this differentiated educational process of the previous period:
both family and school yanked the child away from adult society. The attentions of the family, of the Church and
of moralists and managers yanked away the freedom that the child enjoyed until then, among adults. They
introduced it to the cane (...), in other words, the punishment usually reserved for convicts from the lower strata of
society . From these developments, Ariès does not support the thesis that the growing perception in the
special nature of childhood forcibly led to the creation of a better world for children; in reality, he argues to the
contrary: that the development of the concept of childhood came together with the most severe methods of
education (Pollock, 1990).

Other authors support Ariès way of thinking in this sense, saying that the concept
of childhood brought about an idea of subordination, of dependency and that, during the 17th Century,
punishment against children became even more barbaric. This increase was due to the first
results of a greater attention given to children, a by-product of an increased interest in the moral and academic

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enhancement of children and also of the doctrine of Original Sin (Pollock, 1990)3. In the 17th Century,
attention was given to biblical sayings, especially by the Puritans4: He that spareth his rod
hateth his son, but he that loveth him chasteneth him betimes (Proverbs 13:24); Withhold not correction from
the child: for if thou beatest him with the rod, he shall not die (Proverbs 23:13); Thou shalt beat him with the
rod, and shalt deliver his soul from hell (Proverbs 23:14). Besides the support found in biblical
quotations in favor of corporal punishment of children, at the domestic level, there
was another saying: Chasten thy son while there is hope, and let not thy soul spare for his crying
(Proverbs 19:18). In fact, if on the one hand there was a tacit assumption of corporal
punishment as a disciplinary method, on the other hand, this could not lead to the
loss of a child’s life. Some of these historians provide proof in the sense that during
the 17th Century it was common to break the will of a child, and corporal punishment was the best means of
achieving this (Pollock, 1990).
Lastly, it is important to emphasize that institutional development acceptance of formal
education in schools with the consequent isolation of children from adult society was a pre-requisite for the
appearance of sociological and psychological concepts of childhood (Pollock, 1990). Ariès further states
that the evolution of the family (open to the outside world, to friends etc., that was
associated with it), to its present nuclear form, had important consequences in the
development of the concept of childhood, which in turn, is not separate from that of
the family: the interest in childhood (...) is nothing more than a form, a particular expression of this more
general feeling, the feeling of family (Pollock, 1990).
Actually, the thesis in which Ariès furthers is that in most societies children
integrate themselves very early on in adult society and that their segregation process
(which he considers essentially undesirable) is a particular trait of the bourgeoisie.
The second author that we would like to highlight is Lloyd deMause (1975). In
the introduction of the book which he organized, he states: the history of childhood is a
nightmare from which we have only recently begun to awaken. The further back in history one goes, the lower the
level of child care, and the more likely children are to be killed, abandoned, beaten, terrorized and sexually
abused.
Lloyd deMause is considered to be a psycho-historian5 and his work is seen as
the history of childhood, or more precisely, as the history of childcare in the western
world. As from ancient times, he shows a smoothening of parent–child relationships
which date back from periods when children were abandoned, exposed, badly
treated and uncared for, up to the present, when parents sacrifice themselves for
their children. He tries to discover, through what he calls psychogenic theory of
history, how these transformations in the adult-child relationship came about, saying

3
The Church, on the one hand, considered children innocent beings, who on the other hand, carried the weight of the
Original Sin. This concept of the Original Sin allowed children to be treated with severity to “cure” their inherent iniquity.
4
Greven (1992) tells us: Jesus never advocated corporal punishment. Nowhere in the New Testament does Jesus approve of
the infliction of pain upon children by the rod or any other such implement, nor is He ever to have recommended any kind of
physical discipline of children by any parent. Therefore, for this author the key text of the New Testament which values
corporal punishment of children is Hebrews, attributed to the Apostle Paul and which at present is contested by experts,
who define this text as anonymous. Catholics and many other religious groups have equally sustained traditions of using
physical punishments both in families and in schools. But so far, very little has been written by or about Catholics
concerning their attitudes toward and practice of corporal punishment. The subject of discipline among Catholics and Jewish
people needs to be further explored.
5
For the psycho-historian the why of history refers necessarily to a psychological why. From this viewpoint, history is made
by men; to understand why men have done what they have, one must examine deeply the motives, no more, no less (…)
One must question people and listen to them carefully, without taking their words literally (…) The historical why begins
where the explanations end (…) Where the psycho-historian is situated is the terrain of the unconscious psychic
determination of all human actions and omissions which make up history (Binion, 1986).
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that in reality parents regress to the psychic age of their children and work through the anxieties of that age in a
better manner the second time they encounter them than they did during their own childhood (1975).
In a more recent article, this author (1995) states that:

Through my psy cho-historical study of childhood and of society I conclude that the history
of humanity w as founded on the practice of v iolence against children. In the same w ay that
family therapists hav e today discov ered that the purpose of domestic v iolence against children
is to maintain families united as a means of solv ing their emotional problems, also that the
routine of v iolence against children has been the most effectiv e w ay society has found of
maintaining its collectiv e emotional homeostasis. Many families throughout history practiced
infanticide, hitting and incest. Many States sacrificed and mutilated their children to allev iate
the parent’s guilt. Ev en now aday s w e continue killing, mutilating, and submitting our children to
hunger through our social, military and economic activ ities 6.

The work of deMause is quite polemical in that one could question the value of a
psycho-historical construction supporting a parent-children interaction that changes
through its own nature, without taking into account outside aspects, such as social,
economic and political ones. On the other hand, he developed his theory from
scattered information that may or may not be as reliable or may not allow
conclusions that he himself reached. It is our belief, however, that already in 1995,
having received criticism, this author tried incorporating some debates of a socio-
economic order which correct certain problems in his theoretical construction. His
works demonstrates other frailties: treating phenomena such as sexual and physical
domestic violence as a whole, without going into specifics, aside from working with
several problems relating to childhood and adolescence such as infanticide, going off
to war, etc., without separating them in a more coherent way, as if all violence
directed towards childhood could be grouped together.
By making a parallel between the theses of Ariès and deMause, it can be seen
that the first author maintains that the traditional child was happy, and mixed with
adults. From the moment that a special condition – childhood – was invented,
bringing about a tyrannical concept of family that destroyed sociability and deprived
children of freedom, confinement and severe punishment was inflicted upon them.
deMause, on the other hand, departs from a contrary thesis whereby he shows that
the situation of children improved considerably throughout the centuries. With
reference to domestic corporal punishment, he says that there is an evident decrease
of this practice as of the 17th Century, but it was the eighteenth century which saw the biggest
decrease. The earliest lives I have found of children who may not have been beaten at all date from 1690 to
1750. It was not until the nineteenth century that the old-fashioned whipping began to go out of style in most of
Europe and America, continuing longest in Germany, where 80% of German parents still admit to beating their
children, a full 35% with canes (1975). deMause points out, however, that as corporal
punishment began to decrease, other educational substitutes were found such as, for
example, locking children in dark rooms, a practice found in bibliographies of the
18th and 19th Centuries. He reports on the little Bastilles (fortresses) found in houses,
where children were locked up for hours, days, with only bread and water, trying in

6
Here the author severely criticizes the North American international policy which recruited many young people to the Gulf
War, as well as its mechanisms of exploitation which left many children in various continents hungry and deprived.
Therefore, a belligerent and exploitative policy taken to extremes.
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this way to correct behavior which was considered to be unsuitable by the parents7.
He divides into periods, the relationship between parents and children, beginning in
Antiquity up to the 20th Century, and passes through the stages of infanticide, of
abandonment, ambivalence, intrusion, socialization, until the helping stage
belonging to our century is reached, where parents are very much involved in the
process of bringing up and educating their children.
However, deMause could not answer why parental violence against children
came to be, and today there are so many cases of this even though there is a type of
relationship between parents and children which he considers to be satisfactory and
encompassing. In reality, deMause also states that the farther back we go, to the
beginning of the history of humanity, the more parents we find, who were not much
involved with the care of their children and that if today we are shocked at the
number of children who are victims of violence, just imagine how much larger this
number would be, the farther back we go into History. That is why he says the
following: the evidence which I have collected on the methods of disciplining children leads me to believe that
a very large percentage of the children born prior to the 18th Century were what would today be termed “battered
children” (1975). He further states that of the over 200 (two hundred) documents of
advice on child-rearing that he examined, prior to the XVIII century, many approved
of beating children severely, sanctioning it under the most varying circumstances,
excluding documents by Plutarch, Palmieri and Sadoleto. The instruments used in
these beatings included whips, rods, sticks, pieces of bamboo, of iron, etc.
According to him, century after century, violent punishment was allowed, and
public protesting was rare. Even humanists and teachers, with a reputation for
gentleness, such as Petrarch, Ascham, Comenius and Pestalozzi approved of beating
children. Milton’s wife complained that she hated to hear the screams of his nephews
when he beat them. Even nobility was not immune to beatings, as can be seen from
the childhood of Louis XIII. A whip was kept at his father’s side at the table, and
when he was 25 months, regular whippings began, often on bare skin. He had
frequent nightmares about his whippings that were meted out in the mornings when
he awakened. After he became king, he still awoke at night, terrorized with the
expectation of his morning whipping. Even on the day of his coronation he was
whipped8.
It is important to remember, as an addendum, that Perrot (1993) shows us that
in 19thCentury French society, the so called habit of beating children was present in all
social classes, although it took on different functions and characteristics according to
these same classes: among the bourgeoisie, more than in the aristocracy, children no longer were beaten so
often at home. Here and there some whips and lashes made of string exist, but they are becoming more and
more rejected. (...) In the country and among the lower classes of the city and among the small bourgeoisie

7
It is interesting to note the many ghost-like figures used to frighten children throughout the ages, that were uncovered by
deMause: the ancients had their Lamia and Striga who ate children raw (…) witches and demons in medieval times (…)
After the Reformation (...) many children’s stories told of the tortures that God had in store for them in Hell (...) When religion
was no longer the focus of the terrorizing campaign, figures closer to home were used: the werewolf will gulp you down;
Blue Beard will chop you up (…) Boney (Bonaparte) will eat your flesh, the black man or the chimney sweeper will steal you
away at night(…). (1975)
8
Louis XIII, son of Henry IV (assassinated in 1610) was crowned king at the age of 9. In 1624, Louis XIII gave the task of
governing the kingdom to Cardinal Richelieu, who became president of the Royal Council. The policies established by
Richelieu were: to internally break the power of feudal aristocracy, establishing an absolute monarchy, and externally to fight
the Habsburgs so as to give France the hegemony of Europe. When Richelieu died in 1642, the road to despotism was
already set.
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beatings rain (sic) down. Beatings and whippings are fully admitted, as long as they do not exceed certain limits
(...).

The opposing theses of Ariès and deMause, especially opposing because one
emphasizes that children’s nightmare began with the concept of childhood, and the
other one that this nightmare is retreating into the history of humanity, show us that
the true history of childhood has serious obstacles to overcome from the viewpoint of
its reconstruction, since theoretical differences regarding it stand out. However, these
differences show us how far we are in terms of being able to affirm that this or that
period of history brought more or less violence to the parent-child relationship.
Doubts still exist, and the only certainty we have is that upon reaching the new
millennium we are still confronted with this phenomenon and the numbers are
alarming.
Certainly it can be said that Philippe Ariès’ work caused great impact, in that it
questioned the universality of childhood. Yet Lloyd deMause upheld the notion of this
universality, saying that childhood is the same; it is the parents who changed (James & Prout,
1990). The debate among historians continues and what we can glean from it is that
modern childhood is, without a doubt, historically specific.
Another support for the idea of the social construction of childhood comes from
anthropological studies on culture and personality. Although discussing the
variability of the concept of childhood in different cultures, these studies are still
tainted by a conventional perspective in that they maintain that socialization is a
process molded by adults, giving little attention to the fact that childhood is a
phenomenon in itself and that children can be active participants of their own
educational process.
In Psychology, the area dealing with children has grown, especially with the
contributions of theoreticians on human development.
More recently, in the context of Psychology, although the focus has remained
on the individual, accepting the idea that childhood is socially constructed led to a
heightened awareness of the importance of the social context within which
psychological processes take place.

In Britain, the publication in 1974 of a collection edited by Martin Richards, and a similar
North American one, edited by Kessel and Siegel (1983), are w idely regarded as landmarks of
the new approach. The underpinnings of this w ere later described by Richards as: the criticism
of a psy chology based on univ ersal law s that w ere supposed to hold good across all societies
and at all historical times. It w as argued that such terms as ‘the mother’ and ‘the child’ not only
conv ey ed a meaningless generality but also misrepresented the relationship betw een
indiv idual and social w orlds and portray ed social relationships as if they w ere fix ed by laws of
nature. (James & Prout, 1990)

Different contributions arising from different disciplines brought about the


discussion on the concept of the social construction of childhood. But we must not forget
that many social movements have contributed towards this, such as the women’s
movement, those against psychiatry, those relating to human rights, etc.

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Voices of Youth

However, the emergence of a new paradigm for studying childhood as a social


construction has encountered a series of obstacles that arise from various areas of
knowledge.

First, it has to be recognized that the still dominant concepts of ‘dev elopment’ and
‘socialization’ are ex traordinarily resistant to criticism. They persist despite all that has been
said against them. Richards (1986:3), for ex ample, laments that despite w idespread discussion
of the need for cognitiv e and dev elopmental psy chology to locate itself w ithin a social and
cultural contex t, only a minority of recently published empirical research ev en faintly considers
this a possibility . Similarly , in sociology , the concept of socialization continues to dominate
theory and research about children. The lack of change here stands out sharply in, for
ex ample, the sociology of the family . Whilst thinking about w omen and the family has been
rev olutionized by feminist critiques, thinking about childhood remains relativ ely static, like the
still point at the center of a storm. (James & Prout, 1990) 9

These authors also point out the contribution of some female American
sociologists who attribute these obstacles in the area of sociology, for example, to the
fact that this area is dominated by men and that, consequently, they do not value
child care, much less the activities produced by them.
James & Prout (1990) bring our attention also to the fact that notions such as
socialization, for instance, are registered in the practice of social assistants and
teachers and that this gives rise to some difficulties regarding a more consistent
criticism, making this attitude be seen not only as a question of habit, of convenience,
of false awareness, but very much related to what Foucault calls the regimen of truth
(1977): he suggests that this operates rather like a self-fulfilling prophecy: ways of thinking about childhood fuse
with institutionalized practices to produce self- conscious subjects (teachers, parents and children) who think (and
feel) about themselves through the terms of those ways of thinking. The’ truth’ about themselves and their
situation is thus self-validating. Breaking into this to achieve a new ‘truth’ (produced by another way of thinking
about childhood) may prove difficult . (James & Prout, 1990)

And finally, this new way of thinking about childhood, using as a basis the
development of new studies allows that these new studies enlighten the policy on
childhood. Furthermore, these studies are attempts to give voice to children and
adolescents, who, up until now, have seen measures taken in view of their best interest,
without being consulted.

B. Brief incursion through the History of Youth


Just as in the case of childhood, the HISTORY OF YOUTH is still far from being
known and, according to some theoreticians, perhaps even of being known. This
happens because there are various obstacles to overcome. The first is the lack of
homogeneity regarding the vocabulary dealing with this topic.

9
Sociology, especially functional sociology, also emphasized a view that underestimates the value of a child compared to the
value attributed to an adult. Davis’ words are eloquent: The most important functions carried out by the individual for society
are those done when adult, not when immature. Thus the treatment that society offers the child is fundamentally preparatory
(…) Any doctrine which considers the necessities of children as priorities and those of organized society as secondary is a
sociological anomaly (Davis, 1949). From this perspective, a large part of the theory and research on childhood resulting
from this orientation centralizes its attention in the institution of the family, as well as in the educational processes and
socialization, a focus whereby childhood is not even a unit of observation, nor a category of independent analysis (Pilotti &
Rizzini, 1995).
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Voices of Youth

According to Levi & Schmitt (1996):

The w ord boy can appear in a chanson de geste to designate a y oung w arrior (we thought
of Infanzie del Cid), in that the Roman or mediev al notion of juventus shifts the limit w ithin
w hich w e today place y outh, further dow nw ards. To the contrary , w hen the terms remain
apparently immutable, their semantic contents do not stop renov ating. In this manner, if w e
compare the conceptual subdiv isions of Antiquity w ith our representations, w e could also obtain
approx imate correlations (deep dow n, w e alw ay s adopt the same terms: childhood,
adolescence, y outh), but w e hav e to recognize that these w ords don’t hav e the same meaning
any more.

This is why it is necessary to refuse another temptation that usually provokes


historians, making their work difficult. It has to do with a simplification which was
also pointed out by Levi & Schmitt (1996): the illusion (...) of a linear history that develops according
to continuous modules and in a regular rhythm from a hypothetical beginning until a completely inscribed
conclusion in its premises. Over this rule a regular process of evolution can be imagined, starting from the youth
of traditional societies, which is defined by its ritual roles and costumes, to a “modern” youth, liberated from any
constraints, free of all taboos, which abolished all differences between both sexes from behavior, from ways of
dressing (let’s say, for example, unisex jeans) and from the possibilities of professional options . Much to the
contrary, the History of Youth is not characterized by a continuity in development,
nor by a homogeneity in content. The reason is that, just like with childhood, youth
– aside from being an age of life – is also a social construction.
As with other periods of life, and perhaps, even more accentuated, youth is a
cultural and social construction, which is characterized by its marked character of
limits.
In fact, it situates itself inside the moveable margins between childhood
dependency and adult autonomy, in that period of pure change and unrest where the
promise of adolescence happens, between sexual immaturity and maturity, between
the development and flourishing of mental abilities, between the lack of and the
acquisition of authority and power.
In this sense, no physiological limit can analytically identify a phase of life
which can be better explained by the cultural determination of human societies,
according to the way in which they try to identify, to give order and sense to
something which seems typically transient, that is, chaotic and disorderly. This
period of life can not be clearly bound by demographical quantifications, nor by
juridical definitions, that is why it seems to us substantially useless trying to identify
and establish clear limits, as others have done.
On the contrary, what is interesting, is exactly this marginal or borderline
character of youth, the fact that it is something that cannot be given a stable and
concrete definition. Otherwise, it is precisely its transitory nature that charges this
cultural construction with symbolic meanings, with promises and threats, with
potentialities and frailties, which in all societies is looked upon ambiguously, yet at
the same time with caution and full of expectations. In this ambivalent and cross-
eyed way of looking, where attraction and suspicion are also involved, societies have
always constructed youth as an intrinsically unstable social fact that is irreducible to
the rigidities of demographic and legal data, or, better yet, as a cultural reality with

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endless values and symbolic uses, and not only as a simple social fact, which can
immediately be analyzed.
Besides, it must be pointed out that, within the principles that serve as a basis
for classifying people, age has a specific and clear characteristic: from the
individual’s viewpoint, it is, by definition, a transitory condition. Belonging to a
specific age group − most particularly to youth − represents for each individual a
provisional condition, contrary to placing the individual within the framework of a
social class (which is very difficult to break out of, unless the individuals can fulfill,
in certain cases, their hopes of social mobility) and contrary to the sexual definition
(which is unequivocal, fixed once and for all). More appropriately, individuals do not
belong to age groups, they cross them. It is precisely this essential character of being
on the threshold, which is typical of youth, together with a longer or shorter time in
the condition of being young, which, in the final analysis, characterizes youth
(however, in different ways according to different societies), determining not only
social attitudes, the attitudes of others on their behalf, but also the vision that young
people have of themselves.
Mindful of this, it must be remembered that nothing is unchangeable or
universal. In a cold society, or a structurally static society, certain legal and symbolic
processes will have the tendency of underlining predominantly the elements of
continuity and of reproducing the roles attributed to youths. On the other hand, a
hotter society, more predisposed towards recognizing the value of change, will more
easily admit the necessarily conflicting character of the transition from one age
period to the next and of the transmission of the set of rules among generations.
Therefore, there is no HISTORY OF YOUTH, but HISTORIES that concern YOUTH and,
above all, YOUNG PEOPLE who are part of the mesh of specific social relations, linked
to contexts and to distinct historical periods.
Just like childhood, youth is also a concrete condition of existence. Just as one
cannot talk about the infantile nature10, one also cannot talk about the juvenile
nature. There are many ways of being a child and many ways of being young,
depending on the historical context and on the socio-economic, political, cultural and
psychological conditions. A brief incursion through the History of Youth will allow
us to identify how youths have been treated differently according to the image that
societies have of them and according to their social roles.
Consequently, throughout the ages, young people (as well as children) have
been seen both with hostility – when they are thought to be the source of disorder

10
The condition of being a child
The idea of child nature remits to traits which have an absolute and universal value: the child, in itself, is wild, submissive
to its will, innocent, spontaneous, undisciplined, etc. The idea of a child condition refers to a specific situation of childhood
without defining, however, qualities or behaviors that would inevitably be found in all children. The child is a being in
process of growth, whose personality is undergoing formation, and who lives in a social environment made up of
adults and to which it is not immediately adapted: these observations are valid for all children in any civilization;
regardless of the social class they belong to and are what one can call as the condition of being a child. But growth, the
formation of the personality and social adaptation occur in a social environment that is not the same for all children. They
turn into varying social behaviors. All children grow up, but each one experiences growing up in a different way, socially and
psychologically. Growing up is not the same for the child who wants to escape from an oppressive family situation and for
those who increasingly liken themselves to their parents who they admire. By the same token, the first born of large families
who grow up with responsibilities frequently too heavy for them, and children who are over protected by their parents, do not
experience growing up in the same way. It is necessary to psychologically understand children in function of their life
conditions, that is, both in their condition as children, and in their true social condition. (Charlot, 1977)
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Voices of Youth

and aberration – as well as benevolence – when exalted as saviors of the Nation or of


Humanity. That is why, as in the case of childhood, the HISTORY OF YOUTH brings
many SCENARIOS OF VIOLENCE, some of which are transcribed in the following
paragraphs. They are examples and are in the form of historical fragments seen in the
context of time and period, because after all, a history of youths exists only if
inscribed in a history of politics, religion, family, law and even of feasts and sports11.

GREEK YOUTH
C RETAN SEXUAL I NITIATION

The Cretans have a very peculiar custom when it comes to amorous relationships. In
effect, it is not through persuasion that lovers achieve what they so avidly seek, but rather
through abduction. Three days before the event, the lover announces to his friendsthat
he plans to abduct his intended. Hiding the desired adolescent or not letting him proceed
along the intended route of the abduction would be, from the lover’s point of view, the
biggest of insults because it would appear, in everyone’s eyes, that the adolescent isnot
worthy of belonging to a lover of such a high standing as himself. In this manner, the
friends unite and certify that the abductor is equal or superior to the adolescent in all
aspects, in particular, regarding class, and they pursue him and take the adolescent
gently away from him, all in a friendly manner and only to give continuity to the custom,
and then they happily return him so that he can be taken definitively.
If, on the contrary, the abductor does not seem to have sufficient class, the young man
is seriously taken away and no longer returned. Whatever the outcome, the chase isonly
over when the abducted is taken to the abductor’s andria. It is not the most handsome
young man who is worthy of being loved, but rather the one who has distinguished
himself through courage and uprightness. After welcoming giving him presentsthe lover
leaves the city with the young man and leads him to a place of his choice. All those who
took part in the abduction accompany them, celebrating and hunting with them for two
months − the law does not allow an adolescent to be retained for longer − after which
they return to the city. The adolescent is then allowed to leave, but not before receiving
military equipment, an ox, and a vessel, as determined by the law, aside from many other
valuable presents. The lover’s friends tend to band together and help share the heavy
expenses the lover has to face.
As to the young man, he offers sacrifices to Zeus and a banquet to those that brought
him back. Then, he makes a public declaration about his relationship, whereby he states
if he has any complaints or not, because the law determines that if he was a victim of
violence during the abduction he can ask for reparation and be removed from under the
lover’s power. On the other hand, it is considered infamous for a well-educated
adolescent, of high standing, not to arrange a lover, because otherwise he would be
considered as having some kind of shortcoming. Contrary to this, honors await the
parastátal, name give to those who were the object of an abduction: the best placesin
public meeting areas and in stadiums are reserved for them, and they have the right to
stand out from others by primping themselves with clothes provided by the lover. This
right is not only restricted to the period of his adolescence, because when he reaches
adulthood, he continues to use a particular clothing to show that he was once a kleimós,
a term which among Cretans means eròmenos, while the lover is known as philétor.
Both in the Spartan model, as in the Cretan one, education of adolescentsinvolved
some form of pederasty.

11
It’s what some historians understand as “total social fact”, the main lesson of M. Mauss’ work, Dumézil’s great teacher.
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JEWISH YOUTH IN EUROPE


In Nuremberg, at the end of the XV century, 24% of all Jew ish men had some
kind of job (either servants or teachers) in other people’s houses, and fourteen out
of fifteen homes sheltered one of these persons. In Alessandria, the number of
servants (including clerks and apprentices) that lived in other people’s homes
remained relatively constant at 7%, betw een 1734 and 1761. In Jewish homes with
at least one servant it varied betw een 20% and 30%. In Trieste, in 1769,domestic
servants w ere 10% of the entire Jew ish population, and almost one fourth of all
Jew ish homes had at least one male or female servant.
In some cases, like the small Piedmont community of Ivrea, w hose ten homes
w ere headed, in 1791, in great part by merchants and bankers, 70% had maids or
servants, w hich comprised 14% of the local Jew ish population. The numbers were
considerably low er in the case of Polish Jew s. In the area of Lublin, according to
the 1764 census, about 7% of Jew ish families, both in the countryside and in the
city, had Jew ish maids that lived under the same roof. In the relatively small
Jew ish community of Opatow , the number of homes w ith servants of either sex
w as, during the 1760 decade, above 8%...
No study on the life of these servants, w ho w ere for the most part not only
young, but single as w ell, can ignore the sex ual element that frequently molded
their relationship w ith their employers. In the Polish community of Opatow,a well-
documented record has survived of tw o cases betw een 1759 and 1778,involving
sex ual ex ploitation of domestic maids by men other than the employers.
Ex ploitation by the employers themselves w as much more commonplace and,
unless it resulted in pregnancy, it generally w ent unnoticed.
In Casale, one of the Piedmont communities (…), a head of family called
Yedidiah Luzzatto, member of a devout brotherhood, w as accused by his maid,
Rachel Foa, of being the father of her child after having seduced her on various
occasions in the spring and beginning of summer in 1715, including the first night
of Easter!

THE F LOWER OF EVIL : MEDIEVAL I TALY


THE STRUGGLE BETWEEN YOUTH AND C HILDREN

Above all, even outside this mechanical relationship, the giovani have the word and,
when possible, invade the public scene of which they are generally separated from.It is
what happens in Venice at night as described in statements. It is what happens in
Florence in the time of Savonarola. When the preacher declares that the reformation of
society falls upon children, a fight between fanciulli and giovani is unleashed.
The task of rooting out the city of all its sins, of purging Florence of all its
licentiousness is handed over to the children. Throughout the city and the countryside,
they carry out their task with such zeal, that no one is able to resist them. Taverns are
closed, card and dice games are forbidden, all pomp, vanity and luxury – not only
women’s hairdos but books and pictures as well – are condemned by these zealous
agents of God. The time for repenting begins precursor to the reign of a new Jerusalem.
Gamblers flee, women dress themselves decently, all avoid sin and, above all,
detestable vice. These bands of children who are prepared to act with violence, place all
their habitual arms in God’s service; stone fights and forced collections during Carnival
are practiced here on behalf of the poor. Grouped according to neighborhood and
organized into four associations, the fanciulli del frate establish a reign of terror in their
surroundings and, on days established by Savonarola, march in procession all dressed in
white and carrying an olive branch – a public image of innocence.
The children sing and it is believed they can hear the voice of the Lord. Against them
rise the giovani, scelerati, giovanastri dissolutissimi et di ribalda vita, persone da fare ogni
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Voices of Youth

male… Groups are organized around some noble youths. And these compagnacci, these
arrabiati [possessed] make another kind of music. Shouts, insults and bell ringing at night,
shouting and bells also during the sermons. Putrefying donkey skin, blessing the faithful
with an onion speared on a sword, and many other ways of bringing bad smells into
sacred places, of perverting the rites and of causing the reign of Christ to fall into ridicule.

All these historical fragments show us that − contrary to childhood as victim of


violence − youth is normally more demanding and, for this reason, it is not
uncommonly viewed as being potentially more dangerous: children – differently
from youths – would be more easily colonized, domesticated… Perhaps that is why the
COLOR GREEN has been considered the COLOR OF YOUTH.

T HE COLOR OF Y OUTH

In the novels of chivalry, a “green” knight, that is, one whose coat of arms,
banner and saddlecloth are green, is always a young, impetuous person, whose
arrival or appearance in a specific episode will inevitably bring about disorder.
Green can assume a negative or positive meaning, because, like any color, it is
ambivalent. In encyclopedias, allegorical literature and treatises on heraldry it is not
only the color of youth but also of hope, of love, (usually of unfaithful love) and of
luck. In a negative sense, green evokes licentiousness, disorder, misfortune, sickness,
poison, and sometimes the devil. If associated to yellow it symbolizes madness or
hypocrisy.
Evidently the idea of a forest, of nature in full growth, makes green the color of
youth. And, since it is the color of youth, it is also the color of hope, of love, of
disorder and inconstancy. However, no matter what techniques, pigments or paints
used, medieval painters always had difficulty dominating green colors. These colors
are the most unstable; they penetrate the fibers of cloth, parchment, and molten glass
or metal less easily. It was difficult to fix them, densify them, make them lighter,
more limpid, luminous. That is why, maybe, there is a possible link between
chemistry and ideology: the instability of the pigment could correspond to a
symbolic instability. Just like green hues, young people are voluble, unstable, and at
times, dangerous.
If the color green is rare in western imagery, it is not, nonetheless, absent. The
fact that it is rare can favor its use dense with meaning. In the Iluminura, the 12th to
the 14th Century, green is often used as a peripheral color, a color for margins,
contrary to red and blue, which were central colors. That is why it is used to
emphasize the subordinate condition or depreciatory character of the subjects who
are dressed in green. That is why there is also a spatial approximation between
this color and young people, who are also peripheral or marginal. The coding of
images and the symbolism of colors are joined together to associate green and
youth. Color minor juventuti inferior!

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III

DOMESTIC VIOLENCE AGAINST C HILDREN AND A DOLESCENTS:


THEORETICAL C ONSIDERATIONS

In the words of Adorno (1988):

Violence is a form of social relationship; it is inex orably attached to the w ay mankind


produces and reproduces social conditions of ex istence. In this light, v iolence ex presses
standards of sociability , w ay s of life, updated models of current behav ior in a society at a
specific moment of time of its historical process. Understanding its phenomenology cannot
prescind references to social structures: it also cannot prescind reference to the subjects which
promote it w hile a social ex perience (...) At the same time that it ex presses relationships
among social classes it also ex presses interpersonal relationships (...) it is present in inter-
subjectiv e relationships that arise betw een men and w omen, betw een adults and children,
betw een professionals of different categories. Its most v isible result is the conv ersion of
subjects into objects, becoming things (...) Violence is simultaneously the denial of v alues
considered to be univ ersal: freedom, equality , and life. If w e understand, like classical political
philosophy did, that freedom is essentially ability , w illingness, determination and man’s natural
right, then v iolence as a manifestation of subjection and turning humans into objects can only
go against the possibility of building a society of free men (...) v iolence is not necessarily a
death sentence, or, at least, this does not fulfill its ex clusiv e meaning. Its reference is life,
how ev er, a reduced life, placed w ithin bonds, alienated; not life in its fullness, in its
manifestation of complete liberty . Violence is a permanent menace to life due to its constant
allusion to death, to suppression, annulment, to the end.

Domestic violence is related to structural violence (violence among social


classes, inherent to unequal societies). However, it has other determinants that are
not only structural. It is a type of violence that permeates all social classes while
violence of an interpersonal nature.
While inter-subjective, domestic violence also consists of a:
a. transgression of the disciplining power of the adult, converting the age difference
adult-child/adolescent, into an inequality of inter-generation power;
b. denial of the value of freedom: it demands that the child or adolescent be an
accomplice to the adult, in a pact of silence;
c. victimization process by constraining the will and desire of the child or
adolescent, submitting them to the adult’s power, so as to satisfy the interests,
expectations and passions of this adult.

That is why the abuse-victimization process is one that consists of objectifying


the child or adolescent, of reducing it to an object of VIOLENCE.
To synthesize, domestic violence against children and adolescents:

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→ is an interpersonal violence;
→ is an abuse of the disciplinary and coercive power of parents or persons
responsible for taking care of the child/adolescent;
→ is a victimization process which sometimes prolongs itself for months and
even years;
→ is a process wherein the victim becomes subjugated and objectified;
→ is a form of violation of the essential rights of the child and adolescent as
people and, therefore, a denial of the fundamental human values such as
life, freedom, security;
→ has its privileged ecology in the family. Since the family belongs to the
private sphere, domestic violence is covered up with the traditional
characteristic of secrecy.
Therefore, domestic violence against children and adolescents
represents all acts or omissions practiced by parents, family members or
responsible people against children and/or adolescents which – being
capable of causing pain and/or physical, sexual and/or psychological harm
to the victim –on the one hand it involves a transgression of the
power/duty of protection of the adult and, on the other hand, it involves
making the child an object, that is, denying the right which children and
adolescents have of being treated as subjects and people in a peculiar
period of their development.

There are five kinds of known domestic violence: neglect, and physical, sexual,
psychological and fatal violence12.
We will focus exclusively on psychological violence.

A T ALE OF P SYCHOLOGICAL V IOLENCE


FREUDI AN
Four we were, the daughters of my mother.
Among them I alway s held the worst place.
Two preceded me – they were beautif ul, pampered.
I should hav e been the last, howev er,
Another came, who became the y oungest.
When I was born, my elderly Father agonized,
Soon af ter, he died.
I grew up, a daughter without a f ather,
Second in a batch of sisters.
I was sad, nerv ous and ugly .
Jaundiced, pale f ace
Wobbly legs, f alling f or nothing.
Those who saw me – said:
− This little girl is a picture
of her old sick father.
I was scared of stories
that I heard, so, to tell:
ghost stories, werewolv es, she-mules with no head.

12
For a more profound study of neglect and fatal familial violence, see Azevedo, M.A., and Guerra, V.N.A. (1996). Infância
e Violência Fatal em Família – Primeiras Aproximações ao nível de Brasil. São Paulo: Iglu.
For a deeper approach to the study of domestic sexual violence, see Azevedo, M.A (1991). Infância e Violência Sexual
Doméstica: um tabu menor de um Brasil menor. São Paulo: IPUSP . (Thesis for Full Professor). To learn more about
domestic physical violence, see Azevedo, M.A. & Guerra, V.N.A. (2001). Hitting Mania: Domestic Corporal Violence of
Children and Adolescents in Brazil. São Paulo: Iglu.
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Af f licted souls of the nether world and of the dev il.


I had wobbly legs
And continually scraped knees,
Cut, grazed.
From f alling so much.
I f ell carelessly .
I f ell on the steps
I f ell on the pav ing around the house.
I cried, I annoy ed.
From within the house they ordered
− Get up, wibbly-wobbly.
My wobbly legs didn’t help.
I cried, I sobbed.
Inside the house they would answer:
− Get up, dumb-bell.
I f ell carelessly …
I fell on the steps
I f ell on the pav ing around the house.
I cried, called, complained.
From within the house impatiently :
− Get up, wobbly legs…
And wibbly -wobbly , dumb-bell, wobbly legs
would get up on her own.
My toy s…
Little coconuts.
Rag dolls.
Bits of crockery .
Forked twigs.
Unending v oy ages…
My imaginary world
Blended with reality .
And the house cut me up: Tattle-tale!
Unwanted company – alway s ready
to go out with my sisters,
y ou should’v e seen
the lengths they would go to
and the stories told,
to go out together
and leav e me alone,
alway s at home.
The street… ah, the street!…
(Play f ul attraction, wish of a child,
suggestiv e world f ull of marv elous discov eries)
− f orbidden to girls of my times.
Rigid f amiliar prejudices,
abusiv e educational norms
− Walled in.
The street. The bridge. Passers-by ,
ev en the stream, f lowing beneath the window,
I saw it through a broken pane,
of a warped window.
In the ghostly quiet of the house,
It was f orbidden, it annoy ed, the loud v oice,
the guf f aws, the sudden shrieks,
the turbulent activ ity of children.
Containment… motiv ation… Curbed behav ior,
Limiting, checking excitements,
Stepping on f eelings.
Valiant deeds within me…
A heroic world, sublimated
Super-imposed, unsuspecting,
Mixed with reality .
And the house alienated, unf oreseen gestation,
Acrimoniously repeating:
– Tattle-tale!

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the repulsion of the ablativ e


burned.
Intimidated, diminished. Misunderstood.
Imposed attitudes, f alse, counterf eit.
Brutal reprehensions, humiliating.
And the f ear of speaking ...
And the certainty of alway s being in the wrong ..
Learn to shut up.
Idiot girl, listening without answering.
Hence, at the end of my lif e,
This ash that cov ers me…
This obscure, bitter, anarchical desire
of hiding my self ,
of changing being, not being,
to v anish, to disappear,
and reappear
as an anony mous creature
without class or f amily commitment.
I was sad, nerv ous and ugly .
A cry baby .
Jaundiced, pale f ace,
With wobbly legs, f alling f or nothing.
An old uncle, who saw me so
would say :
− This daughter of my niece is an idiot.
Better if she hadn’ t been born!
Better not to hav e been born…
Ugly , scared and sad.
Brought up the old f ashioned way ,
− scolds and punishments.
Scorned, dominated.
How much work I gav e
to twist and retwist,
to measure and unmeasure.
To make me so another,
dif f erent,
than what I should be.
Sad, nerv ous and ugly .
Jaundiced, swollen f ace.
Wobbly legs, f alling f or nothing.
The picture of an old man.
Unwanted among the sisters.
Without a Mother’s lov e.
Without a Father’s protection…
− better not to hav e been born.
I nev er achiev ed any thing in lif e.
Inf eriority alway s restrained me.
And thus, without a f ight, I settled down
to the mediocrity of my destiny .

F ROM: CORALINA, Cora (1985). Poemas dos becos de Goiás e estórias mais. São Paulo: Global.

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IV

DOMESTIC PSYCHOLOGICAL VIOLENCE: A CONTROVERSIAL CONCEPT

The concept of DOMESTIC PSYCHOLOGICAL VIOLENCE against Children and


Adolescents is controversial in various aspects.

A. The concept
Historically, the constructo13 DOMESTIC PSYCHOLOGICAL VIOLENCE was coined by
feminist literature as part of the struggle by women to make public everyday
violence suffered by them in private. The socio-political movement, that for the first
time brought attention to the phenomenon of violence against women by their
partners, began in 1971, in England, with the milestone of the first “SHELTER HOUSE”
for beaten women, an initiative which spread throughout Europe and the United
States (middle of the 70s), reaching Brazil in the decade of the 80s.
It was in 1985 that Azevedo began a pioneering research to map the nature of
domestic violence against women in the city of São Paulo. According to the
researcher, from the 2,316 police reports registered in 1981 in that city, and relative to
crimes against women, 1,082 (46.72%)were registered crimes of malicious assault
and battery, and 937 (40.46%) were crimes involving assault and battery. Analyzing
the themes which led to the various ways and modes of domestic physical violence
that were reported, the author discovered that behind the scenes of a battered
woman there were behaviors that bear another type of violence: violence that is
psychological in nature, such as:

• Mental cruelty ⇒ restricting freedom, suspicion, bad character, jealousy , ex cessiv e


demands, etc.
• Verbal offenses ⇒ insults, v erbal aggression, etc.
• Sex ual relationships outside marriage ⇒ partner finds lov ers ostensibly outside the
marriage.

Although the focus of the study was domestic violence of a physical nature,
Azevedo (1985) understands that psychological violence is another important form of
family violence. According to her,

v iolence against w omen is a specific form of interpersonal v iolence, perpetrated by a man


against a w oman. The v iolence can be perpetrated as an end in itself (ex pressiv e v iolence) or
as a mechanism to force the w oman to submit herself to the impositions of the man

13
The term constructo means a concept deliberately and consciously invented or adopted, for a specific scientific end.
[Bastos, Lilia da Rocha et alii (1979). Manual para a elaboração de projetos e relatórios de pesquisa, teses e dissertações.
Rio de Janeiro: Zahar. Glossário de termos básicos em pesquisa científica]
25
Voices of Youth

(instrumental v iolence). Expressive violence usually constitutes w hat w e denote as sexual


abuse. Instrumental violence usually includes w hat w e know as physical abuse, beating a
w omen, and psychological abuse or perverse sweetness, although these forms can also be
ex ercised as ends in themselv es.

Sinclair (1985), a Canadian author, understands that psychological violence


would be different from emotional or verbal abuse, to the extent that it would have a
greater power of inducing fear in the victim because threats of violence are
accompanied by at least one episode of physical abuse.
Nonetheless, the main difference between domestic physical violence and
psychological violence lies in the fact that the first one involves acts of corporal
aggression to the victim, whereas in the second case, the aggression comes from
words, gestures, looks directed at the victim, without necessarily having a physical
contact.
From the studies of victimology14, Marie France Hirigoyen (2000) (psychiatrist,
psychoanalyst and family therapist) defines psychological violence as a real process of
moral destruction (...) [whose attack is directed to] the identity of the other individual and extracting from it all
individuality (...) which can lead to mental illness or suicide. She calls this process moral assault
and/or perverse violence, recognizing that it is possible to destroy someone merely
with words, looks, implied meanings: a true psychic murder. By perverse, the author
means that this has to do with an abuse and not a pathology. Perversity does not arise from
a psychiatric disturbance, but rather from cold rationale, combined with an inability to consider other human
beings . The abuse that is characteristic of this violence, according to the author, begins
with an abuse of power, proceeds with a narcissistic abuse – in the sense that the other completely loses his self
esteem – and can reach, at times, a sexual abuse. Also according to this psychiatrist, and as a
result of her clinical experience, she was able to identify some characteristics of
Psychological Violence:
1ª the most frightening thing is that it is, above all, an UNSPEAKABLE violence: the
victim, even if he/she recognizes his suffering, cannot truly imagine that there has been a violence (...)
Many times the doubt persists: could it be that I am inv enting all this, like some people hav e told me?
2ª the aggressor tends to reproduce his destructive behavior in all circumstances of life: in his workplace,
with his spouse, with the children (...) These are individuals who leave behind them a path strewn with
corpses or living-dead;
3ª it is difficult to detect because the aggressions are subtle, there are no visible vestiges (...) [and
frequently] the victim is considered an accomplice or even responsible for the perverted relationship (...)
This is denying the extent of control that paralyzes the victim and doesn’t allow it to defend itself .

This polymorphous nature of Psychological Violence explains why it can


permeate the context of many institutions (family, school, office, etc.) and why its
victims are always the weaklings in each of these situations (women, children and
the elderly in a family; students at school, employees in companies, etc.).
That is why, already in 1979 and 1980, we find in Alice Miller’s15 works, the
accusation of cruelty with children, always disguised as education for the good of
14
Victimology is the discipline, arising from criminology, that studies the reasons that lead an individual to become a victim, as
well as the processes of victimization, its consequences and the rights that the individual can demand.
15
Alice Miller is an internationally reknown specialist in topics related to the Child Psychology and also author of many
publications devoted to education, which are well known in Germany, France and the United States.
26
Voices of Youth

the child. In a small book published in Germany, in 1979, and translated in Brazil as
O drama da criança bem dotada (1986) [DAS DRAMA DES BEGABTEN KINDES und die Suche
nach dem wahren selbst.], Alice Miller shows how parents can deform the emotional
life of their children, appropriating themselves of and manipulating their psychic
lives as if the child were a catexis narcísica of the father or of the mother. In this
ruinous process, the child is loved at the price of having to let go being who they are.
Referring to various examples, for the most part extracted from the world of Arts, the
author shows how this process is more prevalent in gifted children, who, due to their
increased sensitivity, capture better the expectations of their parents, to whom they
seek to mold themselves, sacrificing their true SELF .
In the book published in Germany, in 1980, and edited in USA, in 1984, with the
suggestive title of Hidden Cruelty in Child Rearing and the Roots of Violence, the author
begins with the assertion that there are many forms of cruelty which, even today, are not known because
the damage it causes children and its consequences are not sufficiently studied. In this book, the author
shows how, throughout more than two hundred years, Traditional Education has
molded a despotic pedagogy16 – a mixture of corporal punishment and humiliation –
aimed at breaking the child’s will so as to domesticate and transform it into a docile
and obedient being under the adult’s will.
Using three portraits of children educated through the use of these practices
(Cristiane F., drugged and prostituted; Jurgen Bartsch, young German murderer and
Adolf Hitler), Alice Miller shows what are the tactics and consequences of what
would be a real war of extermination against the true SELF .
This is, without a doubt, Domestic Psychological Violence, although the author
does not use this name. It is no wonder then, that a little later, literature about
Domestic Violence against Children and Adolescents incorporates the discussion
regarding the concept of Psychological Violence. Along this same line, we will see
that new terms will arise such as abuse and mistreatment17, in connection with the
adjectives: emotional or psychological. In this manner, some authors made a
distinction between emotional and psychological abuse (O’Hagan, 1993), describing
the first as any and all behavior, by parents or care-givers, that is openly hostile or
neglectful in relation to children and that is capable of harming their self-esteem and
self-confidence. The second would involve a more subtle type of conduct (such as
perverse sweetness) but equally damaging to the child’s personality.
Garbarino, Guttmann & Seeley (1986), as well as McGee & Wolfe (1991) find it
more appropriate to talk in terms of psychological mistreatment so as to cover both
types of abuse. According to the first authors, it deals with a well articulated attack – carried
out by an adult – and directed at the development of the ‘self’ and at the social competence of a child.
In 1995, the American Professional Society on the Abuse of Children defined
Psychological Violence as follows:

16
The author calls Black Pedagogy. In order to avoid dubious interpretations, we have decided to adopt the expression
Despotic Pedagogy. For more information, see Azevedo, M.A. (1995). Despotic Pedagogy and domestic violence against
children and adolescents: where psychology and politics meet. In: Azevedo, M.A. & Menin, M.S. dos S. (orgs.). Psicologia e
Política / Reflexões sobre possibilidades e dificuldades deste encontro. São Paulo: Cortez.
17
We conscientiously reject both expressions. For further information, see Azevedo, M.A. & Guerra, V.N.A. (1995). Violência
doméstica na infância e na adolescência. São Paulo: Robe.
27
Voices of Youth

A repeated pattern of caregiv er behav ior or ex treme incident(s) that conv ey to children that
they are w orthless, flaw ed, unlov ed, unw anted, endangered, or only of v alue in meeting
another’s needs.

Since 1989, Azevedo & Guerra have been discussing in Brazil, the question of
Domestic Psychological Violence, understood as Psychological Abuse-Victimization
of Children and Adolescents. Synthetically, the authors reaffirm the same concept in
a study published in 1998:

Also designated as psychological torture, it occurs w hen parents or responsible parties


constantly put the child dow n, blocking its efforts tow ards self acceptance, causing much
mental suffering.

The chart which follows provides a panoramic and comparative view of the
main concepts addressed in specialized literature.
The conceptual discussion, however, is far from over, although Domestic
Psychological Violence has been discussed in several documents concerning the
protection of the Rights of the Child: in England and in Wales it was incorporated by
the legislation in 1980; in the United States it has been incorporated in the statutes of
several States since 1977.
Internationally, The Universal Declaration of the Rights of the Child (11.20.59),
in its Principle 9, assures the protection of the child against neglect, cruelty and
exploitation. Also, the Convention on the Rights of the Child (11.20.89), ratified by
Brazil on 01.26.90, protects the child against all forms of physical or mental violence
(...). In Brazil, the Statute of the Child and the Adolescent (Law Nº 8069, of July 13,
1990) declares in its article 5, that no child or adolescent will be the object of any form of
neglect, discrimination, exploitation, violence, cruelty and oppression (...) [the italics are
ours].
In practice, however, these conceptualizations have proved to be of little use,
due to the range and ambiguity of behaviors that fall within the framework of
Domestic Psychological Violence.
Experts have, therefore, begun to define Domestic Psychological Violence in a
less generic and a more operational way. This effort has shown itself to be
theoretically valid, although, equally polemical.

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Voices of Youth

CHART 1
Map of the major conceptions of Domestic Psychological Violence [DPV] / (1976-2001)

Number Order EMPLOYED TERMINOLOGY CONCEPTUAL FACETS


OF Relationship
BIBLIOGRAPHICAL with other
REFERENCE Consequences for Modalities
Per petr ator Par ental Conduct [Physical V. /
the Victim
Sexual V.]
Emotional Psychological Emotional Psychological Other
abuse maltr eatment neglect violence Adults Parents or Carers Sibling Generic Active Passive Typology Suffering Damage
1 X X X X X X
2 X X X
3 X X X X
4 X X X X X
5 X X X X
6 X X X
7 X X X X
8 X X X X
9 X X X
10 X X X
11 X X X X
12 X X X
13 X X X
14 X X X X
15 X X X X
16 X X X X
17 X X X X
18 X X X
19 X X X X
20 X X X X
21 X X X X
22 X X X X X
23 X X X X
24 X X X
25 X X X X
26 X X X
27 X X X
28 X X X
29 X X X
29
Voices of Youth

Number Order EMPLOYED TERMINOLOGY CONCEPTUAL FACETS


OF Relationship
BIBLIOGRAPHICAL with other
REFERENCE Consequences for Modalities
Per petr ator Par ental Conduct the Victim [Physical V. /
Sexual V.]
Emotional Psychological Emotional Psychological Other
abuse maltr eatment neglect violence Adults Parents or Carers Sibling Generic Active Passive Typology Suffering Damage
30 X X X X
31 X X X
32 X X X
33 X X X X
34 X X X X
35 X X X X
36 X X X
37 X X X
38 X X X X X
39 X X X X X X X X
40 X X X X X
41 X X
42 X X X X
43 X X X
44 X X X
45 X X X
46 X X X X X X
47 X X X X
48 X X X
49 X X X X X X
50 X X X X X X X X
Totais N (50) 12 34 2 4 10 3 48 1 27 3 3 20 4 17 8
% 24,0 68,0 4,0 8,0 20,0 6,0 96,0 2,0 54,0 6,0 6,0 40,0 8,0 34,0 16,0
SOURCES: Medline Psychoinfo, National Clearing House on Child Abuse and Neglect and Psyclit.
K ALICHMAN, S.C. and GARRY , A.T. (eds.) (1996). Child Abuse. Abstracts of the Psychological and Behavioral Literature 1990-1995. Washington: American Psychological Association.
Vol. 9 (Bibliographies in Psychology).

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BIBLIOGRAPHICAL REFERENCES − CHART 1

1. 1976 W HITING, L. Defining emotional neglect. Children today , 5: 2-5.

2. 1981 A BER, J.L. & Z IGLER, E. Dev elopmental considerations in the dev elopment of child
maltreatment. In: RIZLEY , R. & C ICCHETTI, D. (eds.). Developmental perspectives on child
maltreatment. New Directions for Child Dev elopment, nº 11. San Francisco, C A: Jossey -
Bass.

3. 1982 KAVANAGH, C. Emotional abuse and mental injury : a critique of the concepts and a
recommendation for practice. Journal of the American Academy of Child Psychiatry , 21:
171-7.

4. 1982 YATES, A . Children eroticised by incest. American Journal of Psychiatry , 139: 482-5.

5. 1984 G IL, E. A book for and about adults abused as children . Launch Press.

6. 1986 BAILY , T.F. & BAILY , W.H. Operational definitions of child emotional maltreatment: Final
report. National Center on Child A buse and Neglect (DHSS 90-C A-0956). Washington, DC:
U S Gov ernment Printing Office.

7. 1986 G ARBARINO , J.; G UTTMANN, E. & S EELEY , J.A . The psychologically battered child . San
Francisco, C A: Jossey -Bass.

8. 1987 G ARBARINO , J. What can the school on behalf of the psy chologically maltreated child and
the community ? School Psychology Review , 16(2): 181-7.

9. 1987 G ARRISON, E.G. Psy chological maltreatment of children: an emerging focus for inquiry and
concern. American Psychologist, 42(2): 157-9, Feb.

10. 1987 HART , S.N.; G ERMAINE, R. & BRASSARD, M.R. The challenge: to better understand and
combat psy chological maltreatment of children and y outh. In: BRASSARD, M.R., GERMAIN,
R. & HART , S.N. (eds.). Psychological maltreatment of children and youth . New York :
Pergamon Press.

11. 1987 ROSENBERG, M. New directions for research on the psy chological maltreatment of children.
American Psychologist, 42: 166-71.

12. 1988 HART , S.N. Psy chological maltreatment: emphasis on prev ention. School Psychology
International, 9: 243-55.

13. 1989 A ZEVEDO , M.A . & GUERRA, V.N.A . A buso-v itimização psicológica. In: A ZEVEDO , M.A . &
G UERRA, V.N.A . Crianças vitimizadas: a síndrome do pequeno poder . São Paulo: Iglu, p.
41.

14. 1989 S KUSE, D. Emotional abuse and delay in growth. In: MEADOW, R. (ed.). A BC of child abuse.
London: British Medical A ssociation.

15. 1991 BARNETT , D.; MANLY , J.T. & C ICCHETTI, D. Continuing toward an operational definition of
psy chological maltreatment. Development and Psychopathology , 3: 19-29.

16. 1991 BELSKY , J. Psy chological maltreatment: Definitional limitations and unstated assumptions.
Development and Psychopathology , 3: 31-6.

17. 1991 C LAUSSEN, A .H. & C RITTENDEN, P.M. Phy sical and psy chological maltreatment: relations
among ty pes of maltreatment. Child Abuse and Neglect, 15(1-2): 5-18.

18. 1991 E GELAND, B. From data to definition. Development and Psychopathology , 3(1): 37-43.

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19. 1991 G ARBARINO , J. Not all bad dev elopmental outcomes are the result of child abuse.
Development and Psychopathology , 3(1): 45-50. [Erik son Inst for A dv anced Study in
Child Dev elopment, Chicago, IL, U S]. Special Issue: Defining psy chological maltreatment,
U S: Cambridge Univ ersity .

20. 1991 G RUSEC, J.E. & W ALTERS, G.C. Psy chological abuse and child rearing belief sy stems. In:
S TARR, R.H. & W OLFE, D.A . (comps.). The effects of child abuse and neglect. New York :
The Guilford Press, p. 186-202.

21. 1991 HANGAARD, J.J. Defining psy chological maltreatment: a prelude to research or an outcome
of research. Development and Psychopathology , 3(1): 71-7. [Cornell U, Ithaca, NY , N Y ].
Special Issue: Defining psy chological maltreatment. U S: Cambridge Univ ersity .

22. 1991 HART , S.N. & BRASSARD, M.R. Psy chological maltreatment: progress achiev ed.
Development and Psychopathology , 3: 61-7.

23. 1991 MCG EE, R.A . & W OLFE, D.A . Psy chological maltreatment toward an operational definition.
Development and Psychopathology , 3: 31-18.

24. 1991 MCG EE, R.A . & W OLFE, D.A . Between a rock and a hard place: where do we go from here
in defining psy chological maltreatment. Development and Psychopathology , 3(1): 119-24.
[U Western Ontario, London, Canada]. Special Issue: Defining psy chological
maltreatment. U S: Cambridge Univ ersity .

25. 1991 S HAVER, P.R.; G OODMAN, G.S.; ROSENBERG, M.S. & O RCULT , H. The search for a definition of
psy chological maltreatment. Development and Psychopathology , 3(1): 79-86. [State U
New York , Buffalo U S]. Special Issue: Defining psy chological maltreatment. U S:
Cambridge Univ ersity .

26. 1991 S TERNBERG, K.J. & LAMB, M.E. Can we ignore context in the definition of child
maltreatment? Development and Psychopathology , 3: 87-92. [N IH, National Inst of Child
Health and Human Dev elopment, Bethesda, MD, U SA]. Special Issue: Defining
psy chological maltreatment. U S: Cambridge Univ ersity .

27. 1991 THOMPSON, R. & JACOBS, J.E. Defining psy chological maltreatment: research and policy
perspectiv es. Development and Psychopathology , 3(1): 93-102. [U Nebrask a, Lincoln,
U S]. Special Issue: Defining psy chological maltreatment. U S: Cambridge Univ ersity .

28. 1991 TOTH, S.L. Psy chological maltreatment: can an integration of research policy and
interv ention efforts be achiev ed. Development and Psychopathology , 3(1): 103-9. [U
Rochester, MT Hope Family Ctr, N Y , U S]. Special Issue: Defining psy chological
maltreatment. U S: Cambridge Univ ersity .

29. 1991 W ALD, M.S. Defining psy chological maltreatment: the relationship between questions and
answers. Development and Psychopathology , 3(1): 111-8. [Stanford U, C A, U S]. Special
Issue: Defining psy chological maltreatment. U S: Cambridge Univ ersity .

30. 1991 Working together . Circular / Department of Health Guidance (DOH, 1991). England.

31. 1992 VONDRA, J.I.; KOLAR, A .B. & RADIGAN, B.L. Psy chological maltreatment of children. In:
A MMERMAN, R.T. & HERSEN, M. (ed.). Assessment of family violence: a clinical and legal
sourcebook. Wiley Series on Personality Process, p. 253-90. New York , NY : John Wiley
and Sons.

32. 1993 G ARBARINO , J. Psy chological child maltreatment. A dev elopmental v iew. Prim-Care, 20(2):
307-15, Jun. [Erik son Institute for A dv anced Study in Child Dev elopment, Chicago,
Illinois]

33. 1993 KLOSINSKI, G. Psy chological maltreatment in the context of separation and div orce. Child
Abuse and Neglect, 17(4): 557-63, Jul.-A ug.
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34. 1993 O’HAGAN, K.P. Emotional and psychological abuse of children . Buck ingham: Open
Univ ersity Press.

35. 1995 C ANTON DUARTE, J. A bandono emocional, malos tratos psicológicos y problemas de
conducta en menores institucionalizados por malos tratos. In: C ANTON DUARTE, J. (comp.).
Malos tratos a los niños: institucionalización y problemas de adaptación . Diputación
Prov incial de Jaen: Patronato de Bienestar Social, p. 175-213.

36. 1995 C ORTÉS A RBOLEDA, M.R. Problemas de conducta en menores institucionalizados por malos
tratos. Tesis Doctoral. Serv icio de Publicaciones de la Univ ersidad de Granada.

37. 1995 C ORTÉS A RBOLEDA, M.R. El problema de la definición del abuso infantil. In: C ANTON DUARTE,
J. (comp.). Malos tratos a los niños: institucionalización y problemas de adaptación .
Diputación Prov incial de Jaen: Patronato de Bienestar Social.

38. 1995 F ORTIN, A .; C HAMBERLAND, C. Prev enting the psy chological maltreatment of children.
Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 10(3): 275-95, Sep.

39. 1995 IWANIEC, D. The emotionally abused and neglected child . New York : John Wiley and Sons.

40. 1995 O’HAGAN, K.P. Emotional and psy chological abuse: problems of definition. Child Abuse and
Neglect, 19: 449-61.

41. 1995 W HIPPLE, E.E. & F INTON, S.E. Psy chological maltreatment by siblings: an unrecognized
form of abuse. Child and Adolescent Social Work Journal, 12(2): 135-46. U S: Kluwer
A cademic Publishers.

42. 1997 BRASSARD, M.R. & HARDY , D.B. Psy chological maltreatment. In: HELFER, M.E.; KEMPE, R.
(ed.) et al. The battered child (5th ed. rev and exp). Chicago, IL: U S The Univ ersity of
Chicago Press, p. 392-412. [Columbia U Teachers Coll Dept. of Dev elopmental and
Educational Psy chology , NY , N Y ]

43. 1997 F ERGUSON, K.S. & DACEY , C.M. A nxiety , depression and dissociation in women health care
prov iders reporting a history of childhood psy chological abuse. Child Abuse and Neglect,
21(10): 941-52.

44. 1997 G ARBARINO , J.; E CKENRODE, J.; BOLGER, K. The elusiv e crime of psy chological maltreatment.
In: G ARBARINO , J. & E CKENRODE, J. (ed.). Understanding abusive families: an ecological
approach to theory and practice. San Francisco, C A: U S Jossey Bass Inc. Publ., p. 101-13.
[Cornell U Coll of Human Ecology , Family Life Dev elopment Ctr Ithaca, NY , U S]

45. 1997 S CHAEFER, C. Defining v erbal abuse of children: a surv ey . Psychological Reports, 80: 6-26.

46. 1999 S TEVENS, L.E. Qu’est-ce que la violence psychologique? Ottawa: Centre National
d’Information sur la Violence dans la Famille.

47. 2000 BRASSARD, M.R.; HART , S.N.; HARDY , D.B. Psy chological and emotional abuse of children.
In: A MMERMAN, R.T. & HERSEN, M. (ed.). Case studies in family violence. 2ª ed. New York :
N Y Kluwer A cademic / Plenium Publishers, p. 255-70. [Columbia U Teachers Coll, Faculty
of Health and Behav ioral Studies]

48. 2000 LEWIN. “I’m not talk ing to y ou”: shunning as a form of v iolence. Transactional Analysis
Journal, 30(2): 125-31, A pr.

49. 2001 A ZEVEDO , M.A . & GUERRA V.N.A . Violência Psicológica Doméstica em questão .
[manuscrito]

50. 2001 JELLEN, L.K.; MCC ARROLL, J.E.; THAYER, L.F. Child emotional maltreatment: a 2-y ear study
of U S A rmy cases. Child Abuse and Neglect, 25(5): 623-40.

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B. The facets of constructo


In the area of Domestic Violence against Women, efforts in this direction have
been recorded since 1982. The study of Berly (1982) identifies a list of abusive
behaviors arranged in an increasing continuum of Psychological Violence:

1. Makes fun of the woman.

2. Insults her.

3. Denies her emotional universe.

4. Never approves of the woman’s accomplishments.

5. Yells at her.

6. Insults her repeatedly (in private).

7. Blames her for all the family’s problems.

8. Calls her crazy, whore, stupid, etc.

9. Threatens her with violence.

10. Criticizes her as a mother, a lover and as a professional.

11. Demands her full attention, jealously competing with the children.

12. Criticizes her repeatedly (in public).

13. Tells her of his affairs with other women.

14. Threatens her with violence towards the children.

15. Tells her he only stays together with her because she cannot live without
him.

16. Builds up an atmosphere of fear.

17. Makes the woman feel desperate, depressed and/or other symptoms of
mental illness.

18. Suicide.

Sinclair (1985) also includes a list of violent behaviors, however, without


placing them in any type of hierarchy:

1. Threats (of suicide, of injuring the victim or her loved ones, of damaging
property or animals, of disclosing information about the victim’s past, in
the event that see leaves him).
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2. Forces her to carry out degrading acts, such as cutting up her favorite
dress, washing her mouth out with soap, cleaning the dishes with her
tongue.

3. Do things that frighten her, such as driving through a red light, spreeding
with the car on slippery roads, playing with a knife or gun in her presence.

4. Verbally attack the woman’s personality, her beliefs and attitudes or scorn
her efforts to improve.

5. Control her activities, breaking her routine, depriving of her basic needs
such as sleep, sex and money, or isolating her from family and friends.

6. Destroying anything of woman’s property that is valuable to her, such as


photographs, dresses, etc.

Some of these behaviors are part of what was published, in 1995, by a feminist
organization, The Body Shop. Other emotional and economic attacks are:

A. Destructive criticism and verbal abuse (to mock, to scold, to humiliate…)

B. Pressure tactics (threatening to withhold money, manipulating the


children…)

C. Abusing authority (the I am always right…)

D. Disrespect (not listening or responding, putting partner down in front of


other people…)

E. Abusing trust (lying18, withholding information…)

F. Breaking promises (not following through on agreements…)

G. Minimizing, denying & blaming (making light of behavior and not taking
partner’s concerns seriously…)

H. Economic control (refusing to give money, taking away the car keys…)

I. Self-destructive behavior (alcohol and/or drug abuse…)

J. Isolation (preventing or making it difficult to see friends and relatives…)

K. Harassment (making uninvited visits or calls, checking up on partner…)

In the area of Childhood and Domestic Violence, Garbarino, Guttmann & Seeley
(1986) list five toxic parental behaviors as seen from the viewpoint of Child
Psychology: to REJECT, ISOLATE, TERRORIZE, IGNORE, CORRUPT. While Hart, Germaine &

18
As regards the destructive effect of lies from a psychoanalytical perspective, see Andrade, S.H. de (1998). A violência da
mentira. Rev. Bras. Psican., Vol. 32(4): 921-9.
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Brassard (1987) describe the following acts – de-socializing, exploiting and denying
emotional responsiveness – which are, however, difficult to identify.
In a study published in August 2000 – through a factorial analysis of twenty
items of a scale aimed at measuring “psychological maltreatments” inflicted on
Palestinian children and adolescents (N = 1000), Vivian Khamis identified three factors
which she labeled Emotional Abuse, Emotional Neglect, Corrupting.
In a study published in Canada in 1999, Laura Stevens attempts to give an
operational definition to Domestic Psychological Violence that can serve as a basis to
qualify abusive relationships between the parents themselves and between parents
and children.
She starts from the premise that like all kinds of violence that arise within the framework of a
relationship, Psychological Violence, sometimes also called mental cruelty, is an abuse of power and control.
She lists the following behaviors which go back to and increase the original list of
Garbarino, Guttmann & Seeley’s (1986): TO REJECT; TO DEGRADE; TO TERRORIZE; TO
ISOLATE; TO CORRUPT OR TO EXPLOIT A PERSON; TO DEPRIVE A PERSON OF HUMAN
AFFECTION/WARMTH.

Although necessarily incomplete, this definition of the facets of the constructo


may be considered as the least criticized, since according to Iwaniec (1995) there are
differences and similarities in definitions of psychological maltreatment. There are also problems in differentiating
emotional abuse and psychological maltreatment. Yet all of them include descriptions of the same or similar
parental behavior.

For this reason, Stevens (1999) concludes, somewhat pessimistically, that


Psychological Violence is difficult to research for many reasons :

− contrary to other forms of violence, psychological violence was only recognized a short
while ago;
− there is no universal definition, being, in itself, difficult to define;
− it is difficult to detect, evaluate and prove;
− many cases of psychological violence will never be reported.

Universally speaking, the statement made by Kempe & Helfer in 1980, continues
to be valid:

Countries and societies progress, through different stages, in their approach to domestic
v iolence against the child (child abuse). At first, the problem is denied; then, the more dramatic
cases of phy sical maltreatment are focused on before subtler forms of sex ual and emotional
abuse are finally recognized.

This state of affairs – along with the serious consequences of Psychological


Violence on the development of a child’s personality – clearly indicates the need of
further research into this area. Research that would be capable of showing the
incidence and prevalence19 of the phenomenon in a certain society, either through

19
Incidence refers to the number of cases occurring within a specific time span.
Prevalence refers to the number of individuals in a specific populational segment who report having been victims of the
phenomenon in the past.
36
Voices of Youth

empirical data, or through analyzing the content of autobiographical accounts20.


Research that is capable of overcoming another challenge: that of the explanatory
models.

C. The explanatory models


The area of Domestic Violence against Children and Adolescents seems to be in
a pre-paradigmatic stage of development. There are several available explanatory
models that coexist without surpassing each other entirely.
The chart that follows summarizes this problem, demonstrating generations of
explanatory models.
Research in the area of Domestic Violence against Children and Adolescents is
mainly based on the ecological model of human development. There are many
researchers who have supported Bronfenbrenner’s (1979) ecological theory of human
development as a basis to explain the production of Domestic Violence in Childhood
and Adolescence. Belsky (1980) improved the model, developing a network of
subsystems in permanent interaction for producing Domestic Violence. These
subsystems are related to:
1. the ontogenetic development, that is, the effects of the parent’s history in their
way of bringing up their children;
2. the microsystem, that is, the characteristics of the family and child;
3. the exosystem, that is, the characteristics of the neighborhood and type of social
support offered to the family;
4. the macrosystem, that is, the characteristics of Society and Culture where
Violence occurs.
20
Exploring autobiographical reports (printed material, videos, films, etc.) is proving to be one of the most promising lines of
Qualitative Research capable of revealing all the emotional density involved in the scenarios of Domestic Psychological
Violence. As an example, please see:
a. Bergman’s account of his childhood.[Bergman,I.(1987) Lanterna mágica, uma autobiografia. Rio de Janeiro: Guanabara]
b. autobiographies by:
b1 Evelyn Lau. Runaway: diary of a street kid. Flight, 1997.
b2 Adeline Yen Mah. Falling leaves/The true story of an Unwanted Chinese Daughter. New York: Penguin Books, 1997.
c. The exhaustive research carried out by Oliveira, M. Helena P. (2001). Lembranças do passado: a infância e a
adolescência na vida dos escritores brasileiros. Bragança Paulista: USF.
d. Oral stories, collected by T ELELACRI Teams and exemplified in the written accounts of a victim of Psychological Violence
carried out by the mother and maternal grandmother (Contribution of Team 75, VII Telecourse for Specialization in the
area of Domestic Violence against Children and Adolescents, 2000).
“I arrived in this world in the middle of extreme shortages: of solidarity, understanding, affection, friends, food, shelter,
clothing, medication etc. etc. I don’t know what harmed me more, whether it was the lack of affection or whether a
material lack.
I was received like an enemy creature, immoral, odious, ugly, malign, detestable, undignified.
As if lack and rejection were not enough, I also received within the schizophrenic mind of my grandmother, the
irrevocable death sentence. However, as time went by and what was foreseen did not happen, and the child in spite of
everything thrived, my grandmother laid down another sentence that was absolute and respectedly accepted by other
subjects of that schizophrenic realm: that creature deserved a big punishment, a catastrophe or a wretched future.
Ever since a tender age I heard and felt that I didn’t deserve the affection of anyone, not even of my mother who was
forbidden to even touch me in public.
As I grew up, I began to hear another sentence, or better ‘AN ALLEGAT ION.
No man would ever like me.
If, perchance, someone from the opposite sex were to come near me it would be to take advantage of me or to rape me.
Incoherently, I had the option of choosing between two paths:
1st I should find a good husband, rich and magnanimous, who would pay back all the damage, shame and disgrace I
had caused that venerable family who had brought me up;
2nd I should find a disciplinary husband who would punish me with all chastisements that my complacent family had
not had the courage to apply on me.”
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Voices of Youth

CHART 2
Map of the main explanatory models of Domestic Violence against Children and Adolescents
(1980-2000)

MODELS PRINCIPAL FOCUS MAIN THEORETICIANS

First Generation Psychiatric/Psychological P IANTA, R.; E GELAND, B. & E RICKSON , M .F . (1 9 8 9 ). The antecedents of maltreatment: results of the mother-child
interaction research project. In: C ICCHETTI , D. & C ARLSON , V . (eds.). C hild maltreatment: theory and research on the
(unidimensional) causes and consequences of child abuse and neglect. C ambridge: C ambridge U niv ersity P ress, p. 203-53.
Sociological C HAFFIN , M .; K ELLEHER, K. & H OLLENBERG , J. (1 9 9 6 ). O nset of phy sical abuse and neglect: psy chiatric, substance abuse
and social risk factors from prospectiv e community data. C hild A buse and N eglect, 20: 191-203.

Second Generation Interactive B ELSKY, J. (1 9 8 0 ). C hild maltreatment: an ecological integration. A merican P sy chologist, 35: 320-35.
(multidimensional)
(bio-psy cho-social) B ELSKY, J. (1 9 9 3 ). E tiology of child maltreatment: a dev elopmental-ecological analy sis. P sy chological Bulletin, 114: 413-
34.

Processing M ILNER, J.S . (1 9 9 3 ). S ocial information processing and phy sical child abuse. C linical P sy chology Rev iew , 13: 275-94.
Third Generation
M ILNER, J.S . (1 9 9 5 ). La aplicación de la teoría del procesamiento de información social al problema del maltrato físico a
(multidimensional) niños. Infancia y A prendizaje, 71: 125-34.
H ILLSON , J.M .C . & K NIPER, N .A . (1 9 9 4 ). S tress and coping model of child maltreatment. C linical P sy chology Review , 14:
261-85.

Fourth Generation Historical-critical A ZEVEDO, M .A . & G UERRA, V .N .A . (1 9 9 8 ). Infância e v iolência doméstica fatal em família: primeiras aproximações ao nível
(multidimensional) de Brasil. S ão P aulo: Iglu.
(social-bio-
psy chological) A ZEVEDO, M .A . & G UERRA, V .N .A . (2 0 0 0 ). Infância e v iolência doméstica: fronteiras do conhecimento. 3ª ed. São Paulo:
C ortez.

SOURCE: Adapted from DUARTE, J.C. & ARBOLEDA, Maria Rosário Cortés (1997). Malos tratos y abuso sexual infantil. Madrid: Siglo XXI de España.

38
Voices of Youth

This model is an attempt to overcome the unidimensional models, whether they


be the psycho-pathological (medical model) and the social model, both of which are
based on the defectological paradigm, centered on the idea of a linear causality
among factors represented by deficits (individual or social) and with Domestic
Violence as a resultant. Although it recognizes multi-determination as the law for
producing Domestic Violence against Children and Adolescents, this model, which is
still hegemonic when referring to this problem, has already been criticized by
Azevedo & Guerra in 1993, not only because it is based on the same empirical-
analytical referential on which unidimensional models are based, but also because
the conception of privileged causality found in it leans on the law of universal interdependence, which besides
postulating an inter-relationship among all elements – destructive of the sense of direction, it ignores the fact that
cause and effect are moments of reciprocal connection among phenomena, and as such historical and contingent
(Azevedo & Guerra , 1993). These authors propose, therefore, another model whereby
Domestic Violence against Children and Adolescents is a multi-faceted complex phenomenon, whose
fundamental comprehension requires adhesion to epistemological presuppositions of multi-causal, socio-psycho-
interactionist and historical-critical nature (Azevedo & Guerra , 1998).
With an extensive and in-depth research conducted in the city of São Paulo, on
Childhood and Fatal Violence in the Family, they were able to study the phenomena
grasping the multiplicity of its determinants within the concrete of familial life of
the dead children. Only in this way were they able to explain why Fatal Violence
happens in families that even love their children and why this violence happens and
continues to happen as a chronicle of an announced death.
The superiority of the explanations resulting from applying this model becomes
clear when compared to those centered in the ecological theory, almost always
restricted to the impact of factors linked to ontogenic subsystems and to the
microsystem (Egeland & Erickson, 1987; Wolfe, 1985), without a deeper understanding
of the socio-genesis of the phenomenon.
In spite of this, more research continues to be necessary to confirm the
superiority of the socio-psycho-interactionist and historical-critical model.

39
Voices of Youth

DOMESTIC PSYCHOLOGICAL VIOLENCE − VOICES OF YOUTH :


RESEARCH SCENARIO

A. Preliminary Considerations: RECOVERED VOICES


Until here we have maintained:

1st the understanding of childhood and youth as social constructions, therefore,


phenomena that are not unique, nor universal;

2nd that childhood and youth must be analyzed in light of each culture and society
providing an interface with questions such as gender, class and ethnic
groups…;

3rd that the relationship of childhood and youth with culture and society must be
studied in light of the particular perspective of these social segments;

4th that children and youths are subjects of the construction and determination of
their own lives;

5th that domestic violence in childhood and/or adolescence is an endemic


phenomenon in our society;

6th that domestic psychological violence is a phenomenon that has to do with the
actions or omissions of parents or care-givers, capable of producing mental and
emotional suffering and pain in the child/children.

In light of the above statements, we have carried out a research that tries to
recover the voices of youth with respect to domestic psychological violence.

This research, besides offering an innovative proposal, brings with it the


possibility of providing important insights, through the voices of youth, so that
Brazilian society can be made aware of that what is referred to as the practice of
family education, made to seem natural under the dubious supposition of being for
the own good of the child and youth, in truth, breaks their psychological “self” and
damages their self-esteem.

40
Voices of Youth

In listening to the voices of youth − through them and with them − we will be
contributing to establishing prevention programs21, in a more efficient way.

Programs which would be able to combat what Galeano (1997) appropriately


called THE CULTURE OF TERROR.

THE CULTURE OF TERROR

The ex tortion
the insults,
the threats,
the rap on the head,
the slap,
the soanking,
the w hip,
the dark room,
the cold show er,
the obligatory fast,
the obligatory food,
the prohibition to go out,
the prohibition to speak one’s mind,
the prohibition to do w hat one feels like,
and the public humiliation
are some of the methods of penitence and torture that
are traditions in the life of the family. As a punishment for
disobedience and an ex ample of liberty, family tradition
perpetuates the culture of terror w hich humiliates the
w oman, teaches the children to lie and contaminates
everything w ith the plague of fear.
− Human right s should begin at home − Andrés
Domínguez comments w ith me in Chile.

SOURCE: G ALEANO, E. (1997). O livro dos abraços. Porto Alegre: L&PM.

21
One of the major concerns of the Child Studies Laboratory − LACRI is with prevention of domestic violence. For this reason it
maintains T ELELACRI − A 360-hour Specialized Telecourse (since 1994) in the Area of Domestic Violence against Children
and Adolescents, dedicated to professionals with a university degree and designed to place major emphasis on prevention
projects. This long-distance course has students from 17 Brazilian States and they are aware that:
“− In the area of CHILDHOOD and DOMEST IC VIOLENCE , it is fundamental not only to intervene – when and if VIOLENCE has
occurred – but, especially, to try to avoid its occurrence. It is necessary to arrive before a child or an adolescent
becomes a MEDICAL DOSSIER, a PSYCHIAT RIC CASE , a LEGAL or a POLICE DOSSIER, or a NEWSPAPER HEADLINE .
− For this reason, PROFESSIONAL T RAINING − WHOSE OBJECT IVE IS T O PREPARE BRAVE CHILD DEFENDERS , WHOMUST BE
COMPET ENT , COMMIT T ED, ET HICALLY RESPONSIBLE AND FREE OF PSYCHOLOGICAL INHIBIT IONS − IS ONE OF T HE BEST
PREVENT ION ST RAT EGIES ”.
(Excerpts taken from the Carta de Principios do LACRI – Guia do Estudante – Kit Instrucional – TELELACRI – 2000)
Letter of LACRI’s Principles – Student’s Guide – Instructional Kit – T ELELACRI – 2000. The tele-students are prepared every
year to set up prevention projects within their respective regions.
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Voices of Youth

B. Referential Framework: RELINQUISHED VOICES


The referential framework that was used was that of a CRITICAL THEORY22 in the
area of Domestic Violence against Children and Adolescents, whose basic challenge
is to be politically correct and scientifically valid. Politically correct, that is,
emancipatory and counter-ideological. Scientifically v alid, that is, operative, allowing
the phenomena to be efficiently managed. To face this theoretical challenge it is
important to know that understanding the phenomena must be transdisciplinary,
that is, transgressing (but not ignoring) disciplinary boundaries and that the research
method adopted would have to be the historical-critical one, which has, as a
necessary step, the ideological critique (de-mystifying) of the representations about
the phenomena that are part of the common culture of a given society (naive
conscience) and of the scientific culture (instrumentalized conscience).
To better explain what we understand by CRITICAL THEORY in the area of
Domestic Violence against Children and Adolescents it is necessary to keep in mind
that this approach holds the basic assumption that understanding the dyad:
CHILDHOOD and DOMESTIC VIOLENCE, can only be obtained from the structural
determinants of objective historical development. What determinants are these?
There are two: one which originates from the material conditions of existence
(responsible for the structure of human society into opposing classes of owners and
non-owners) and the other which arises from power relationships (responsible for
the structure of human societies into not always opposing groups: those that have
power and those that do not; power which comes from converting differences in
gender, generations, ethnic group etc. into inequalities and, therefore, as a PRETEXT
for domination, oppression and exploitation of the strong over the weak).
Contrary to a restrictive analysis of human societies, only taking into
consideration its socio-economic determinants, the present perspective recognizes
the equivalent importance of the politico-cultural determinants, especially when
dealing with violence.
As stated by Demo (1991), we do no intention of relegating the economic basis of society to a
secondary level, but of placing the question of power as being relevant in the same level. Power is just as
structural as economic condition. It exists in all societies. Its historical form of distribution decisively marks its
historical quality, just as it marks the form of distribution of material goods . If, as stated by this author,
politics is the space for power, where social discriminations are managed, it is also the particular space of
social relationships. Social relationships do not exist that are not political, by definition, because men are never
only different. Their differences end up by crystallizing into inequalities.

22
This theory presumes a CRIT ICAL T HEORY OF CHILDHOOD that takes into account the social relationship between child and
adult.
The relationship between adults and children cannot be deduced from a child’s nature or an adult’s nature. One
cannot study the child and adult separately and compare them. On the contrary, they are involved in a social relationship
that is inserted in the framework of global society. This does not signify, however, that there is no physiological specificity in
childhood. On the contrary, the social relationship between adult and child rests upon the inequality of their biological
development. From an individual viewpoint, the social bond between child and adult results from the physiological weakness
of the child. From a species viewpoint ... human childhood could not have become the most prolonged infancy in the animal
kingdom if the social organization of men had not been able to protect the child. Therefore, it is as a social bilateral
relationship that one must think about the pedagogical relationship between children and adults and not as a relationship
between two types of nature or two aspects of an extended human nature. (Charlot, 1977).
42
Voices of Youth

In summary, the Critical Theory demands that the phenomenon, Domestic


Violence, be understood in light of the socio-economical and politico-cultural
determinants23 of a given society: to be scientifically valid the approach must be
SOCIO-PSYCHO-INTERACTIONIST . To be politically correct it must be EMANCIPATORY ,
that is, it must represent an opportunity to amplify the citizenship of the victims. In
this respect the approach must always be committed to the fight against violence and
the prevention of it. Only in this manner would one be fighting for the Brazilian child
and youth to become citizens in their own right, and not just on paper.
Figure 3 is a schematic representation of the model adopted in this research
which parts from the premise that Psychological Violence is one of the forms of
Domestic Violence against Children and Adolescents. It:
a. occurs within a pattern/episodes in the father-mother-child relationship in the
everyday life of a concrete family in a given historical situation;
b. is transformed into a series of behavior by the parents or care-givers, directed
towards the child or adolescent: REJECTION / HUMILIATION / ISOLATION /
INDIFFERENCE / TERROR ...;

c. results from the multicausal interaction of a series of socio-economical,


politico-cultural and psychological factors, whose origin is always from the
social to the psychological, or rather, from the socio-psycho-interactionist
perspective (sociogenesis before psychogenesis);
d. produces consequences to the victims that may:
d 1 jeopardize their psy chological dev elopment in terms of intelligence, memory , perception,
attention, imagination, moral sense;
d 2 cause damage to their social dev elopment;
d 3 endanger their capacity to perceiv e, feel, understand and ex plain emotions. (Stevens,
1999)
Under certain conditions it can lead the victims towards the world of
prostitution, of drugs and even to commit suicide.

To avoid the incongruity of a positivistic reading of the model – centered in the


interaction of variables which are necessarily fragmented – we chose to adopt, as a
key to reading the collected data, the outlook of social constructivism (Davies &
Donald, 1994).
According to this outlook:
a. human actions – and domestic violence is one of them – must be studied taking
into account its subjective nature, that is, its meaning (emotional and cognitive)
and functional significance to the subject;

23
In this context the expression determinant, assumes that the occurrence of the phenomena can be explained by the
interaction of various probable factors (multiple and probabilistic determination). Cf. Babbie,E. (1999:48-9). Métodos de
pesquisas de survey. Belo Horizonte: Editora UFMG.
43
MA C RO S YSTEM

SOCIAL POSITION
• Age
F M • Sex
A O • Socio-economic status
T T • Schooling
H H • Social support network
E E
R R

C ULTURAL POSITION
• Child’s representation
• Attitude towards childhood
CONSCIENCE & EVERYDAY FAMILY LIFE • Attitude towards violence
SOCIALIZATION BIOLOGICAL • Attitude towards punishment
EXPERIENCES CHARACTERISTICS STRESS SITUATIONS • Attitude towards women
• Attitude towards sexuality
A. Relationship between parents:
• History of Disharmony and • Depression
Family Rupture • Alcoholism Maladjustment, violence...
• Drug dependency B. “Structural stress”: unemployment,
• Personal History of Abuse Isolation, too many children,
• Poor control
• Ignorance concerning • Low resistance to stress T hreats to authority, values…
Developmental • Neurological Disorders C. Absence of mother.
Characteristics and
Needs of the Child
• Psychiatric Disorders...
Pattern /Episodes
of the Father-Mother
DOMESTIC VIOLENCE
• P HYSICAL
• S EXUAL
<
Child Relationship
• P SYCHOLOGICAL OTHER
D. Stress produced by child CONSEQUENCES
PARTICULAR CHARACTERISTICS • unwanted child • NEGLECT ...
• problem child/adolescent
• Premature • first son…
• Underweight
• Disabled (physical & mentally)
• Hyperative
• Non responsive
• Rebellious
• Unpredictable CHILD
• Incontinent
• Ugly/Attractive...

SOCIO-ECONOMICAL SUBSYSTEM POLITICAL-CULTURAL SUBSYSTEM


STRUCTURE: SOCIAL CLASSES REGULATION: • Gender Relationships
• Intergenerational Relationships

SO C IO -EC O NO M IC A L PO LIT IC A L -CULT URA L

Captions: < − Fatal Consequence of Violence to the Victim / Refraction Relationship / Multiple determination relationship Researched relationships

F IGURE 2 − Domestic Psychological Violence against Children and Adolescents: Socio-Psyco-Interactionist Model.
Voices of Youth

b. human actions – and domestic violence is one of them – when studied, should
include the researcher’s thought processes regarding the significance of his/her
presence on the setting under investigation.

The key ideas here are that know ledge, including psy chological theory is a cultural artifact
and a historical product…Constructiv ism therefore holds that w hat is most important about
human action is meaning and how it is communicated; that the assignment of meaning to
action is mediated and constructed socially ; and finally , that w e are born into a w orld of giv en
and ev olv ing sign or meaning relationships (culture).

In other words: we know that the actions that we classify today as


Psychological Violence were exercised for many, many years by parents against their
children. However, Domestic Psychological Violence is a historically drawn up
constructo and, therefore, its research could also only begin to happen in historically
pre-dated conditions. This does not mean, however, that the victims of yesterday and
of today are conscious of suffering or of having suffered Psychological Violence in
their homes, although they are capable of identifying abusive practices. It is precisely
because Psychological Violence has this characteristic of disguising itself (and
sometimes being ideologically justified) as protective acts for the own good of
children and adolescents, that it is important to venture into the world of youth, to
detect how, in their naive conscience24, they see and interpret the family pedagogy
of PSYCHOLOGICAL VIOLENCE...

24
Naive conscience corresponds to the pre-scientific and anti-scientific vision of the world, as opposed to critical conscience. It
is part of naive pragmatism as a unit of thought and action = characteristic, par excellence, of routinism as defined by Agnes
Heller as the life of every man (...) [Heller, Agnes (1989). O cotidiano e a história. 3rd ed. Rio de Janeiro: Paz e Terra].
According to Álvaro Vieira Pinto, it is one of the modalities of individual conscience which is characterized by the fact that it
does not reflect on its fundamental objectives, nor on the conditionings of the proposals it offers. [Pinto, A.V. (1979). Ciência
e existência. Problemas filosóficos da pesquisa científica. 2nd ed. Rio de Janeiro]
45
Voices of Youth

46
Voices of Youth

C. Methodological Notes: F ORGOTTEN VOICES


In the field of research dealing with Domestic Psychological Violence against
Children and Adolescents, studies directly or indirectly aimed at determining its
occurrence are not very frequent, as can be seen in the table that follows.
Scattered, international researches, show that its occurrence is not to be
disdained. This can be seen in Table 1 with data gathered in Spain.

T ABLE 1
Incidence of Domestic Violence in Childhood/Adolescence.
Spain

Cases of “Maltreatment” found for each typology F %

“Physical maltreatment” 2,579 30.1


Neglect 6,774 79.1
Sexual abuse 359 4.2
“Emotional maltreatment” 3,643 42.5
Begging 800 9.3
Corruptio 361 4.2
Labor exploitation 361 4.2
“Pre-natal maltreatment” 431 5.0

Total Cases 15,308


Total Subjects 8,565

SOURCE: MORAGO, J.J.; DELGADO, A.O.; SAGE, D.S. (1996). Maltrato y protección a la infancia en España.
Madrid: Ministerio de Asuntos Sociales.
Obs.: a. Cases f rom 1991/1992, reported to the Childhood Protection Serv ices, in 52 Spanish Provinces.
b. The nomenclature of the Spanish text was maintained.

In a study on Domestic Violence against Children and Adolescents carried out


in Ontario, Canada, in 1993, it was observed that in 10% of reported cases,
Psychological Violence had been mentioned (Stevens, 1999). In a study on Domestic
Psychological Violence, carried out in Palestine – where 1,000 school children from
the ages of 12 to 16 were researched – it was found that a significant proportion of the children
researched (16.4%) could be considered psychologically abused (Khamis, 2000).
No specific research on the prevalence of Psychological Violence in childhood
and adolescence, which involved young people as subjects, was found. Table 2
shows that empirical research was small in the period analyzed, and that research
with young college students was minor.

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Voices of Youth

T ABLE 2
Census of recent international scientific articles on Domestic Psychological Violence, directed at children
and adolescents (1990-1995).

I SSUES A DDRESSED N % OBSERVATIONS

Definition and critique of the constructo 18 47.3

Measurement of the constructo 3 7.8

Of these, only 2 were carried out


Empirical research 8 21.0
with college students *

Others 9 23.6

Total 38 100

SOURCE: KALICHMAN , S.C. & G ARY, A.T. (eds.) (1996). Child abuse. Abstracts of the psychological and
behavioral literature 1990-1995. American Psychological Association. Bibliographies in
Psychology nº 9. Washington. [See Chart 1, where the studies related to this problem are
shown, with the exception of Empirical research]

* These researches were the f ollowing:


a. C OOK , Donelda A. (1991). College students f rom emotionally neglectf ul homes. New Directions for
Student Services, 54: 77-90.
Describes the consequences of emotionally neglectful homes in the lives of college students and beyond
university.
b. H OGLUND, Collete J. & N ICHOLAS , Karen B. (1995). Shame guilt and anger in college students exposed to
abusiv e f amily env ironments. Journal of Family Violence, 10(2): 141-57.
This study examines the relationship between an abusive family environment and the tendency of feel shame,guilt,
hate and hostility in 208 college students (107 men and 101 women).

Table 3 shows the most systematic data that we have in Brazil. They come from
possibilistic studies carried out annually by the students of TELELACRI /
Specialization Course in the Area of Childhood and Domestic Violence25.

25
This is a study on Domestic Violence against Children and Adolescents registered in every municipality where there are
teams of tele-students. It is hoped that, in the medium term, this data will allow us to trace a more realistic profile of what we
call: The Tip of the Iceberg. That is, those cases which, due to their seriousness – are reported to the agencies that monitor
violence practiced against children and adolescents. It is an incidence research. The data is gathered – through specific
questionnaires that are pre-tested – in institutions that receive the reports. This data covers a period of 1 to 3 months of the
year being researched.
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Voices of Youth

T ABLE 3
Domestic Violence against Children and Adolescents [DVCA] reported in Brazil − Peru.

M ODALTIES OF DVCA R ESEARCHED I NCIDENCE TOTAL N UMBER OF


N OTIFIED
1996 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 C ASES

Physical Violence 525 1,240 2,804 2,620 4,330 6,675 18,194

Sexual Violence 95 315 578 647 978 1,723 4,336

Psychological Violence 0 53 2.105 893 1,493 3,893 8,437

Neglect 572 456 7,148 2,512 4,205 7,713 22,606

Fatal Violence no/inf. no/inf. No/inf. no/inf. 135 257 392

Total 1,192 2,064 12,635 6,672 11,141 20,261 53,965

The data revealed the persistent presence of Domestic Psychological Violence,


even thought it was not the most frequent.
On the other hand, surveys involving the juvenile population, are not very
frequent in Brazil. Of the three most recent surveys (Zagury, 1996; Minayo, 1999; Assis,
1999), the first involved 943 adolescents from the ages of 14 to18, from seven
Brazilian capitals. It researched the subject’s thoughts on several themes, among
them domestic corporal violence and sexual violence; it did not, however, mention
Psychological Violence. The second study interviewed more than 1,000 young people
from 14 to 20 years of age, from Rio de Janeiro, regarding subjects similar to the
previous study: sex, leisure, drugs ... It also addressed Physical Violence in the
family, but did not, however, touch upon other forms of Domestic Violence. The
third was based on interviews with 99 young people, of which 61 were adolescents who had
committed misdemeanors in Rio and Recife, as well as 31 which were brothers or cousins who had not
committed misdemeanors (Assis, 1999), all varying from 13 to 18 years of age. The author
recognizes, although very marginally, the existence of Psychological Violence in the
life of the families of these misdemeanants, as can be seen in the following text.

VULNERABLE F AMILIES
The frailty, of most of the families of those interview ed, can be discerned for
the most varied reasons.
Firstly, due to poverty and social ex clusion they are subject to, isolated from
constructive social support and from the w orld that is beyond their low income
community.
Secondly, due to emotional and financial consequences resulting from the
separation of parents, from the absence of the mother in the home, evidenced
by the lack of stability in their care w hile still infants, and from the relationships
marked by physical and emotional aggression. Commenting on the impact of
49
Voices of Youth

physical and emotional violence on the child, Perry (1995) states: t he most
dest ruct ive violence does not break bones, it “breaks” minds. Emotional violence
does not bring deat h t o t he body, it brings deat h t o t he soul.
The reports of emotional abuse * in the families w ho w ere interview ed, w ere
observed in some of the interview s, although for some youths only “esculacho”
w ere recognized as such. Douglas comments on his mother: she doesn’t care
about me. When questioned if he had felt rejected by his mother he answers: oh,
yes... by my aunt t oo... because she didn’ t care about me. I’ve lived, since I was
small, wit h my fat her. Another young man, Cicero, comments: he made me feel
afraid and I knew he was really violent . We also found other cases of interviewed
adolescents w ho w ere threatened to death by their ow n brothers. The situation of
intra-familial violence from childhood w as also reported by Gilligan (1996),when
studying violent adult criminals w ho saw close relations being murdered,tortured,
raped and w ho suffered many other family misfortunes.

The scarcity of empirical data and the importance of researching the occurrence
of Domestic Psychological Violence against Children and Adolescents speak in favor
of the realization of the present research, characterized as follows.

1. It is a research on the prev alence of Domestic Violence of Psychological nature.


Researching prev alence was chosen because it is a more reliable indicator than
incidence , with relation to the occurrence of Domestic Violence against Children
and Adolescents. According to Sanchez (1995) studies on prevalence are more
representative of what really occurs, than data about incidence. Although this author is
referring to Sexual Violence, it is understandable why it also applies to
Psychological Domestic Violence: the number of cases of Violence that an adult
or young population reports as having suffered in childhood or adolescence
(PREVALENCE), is a more trustworthy indicator than the number of new cases
reported in a certain period (INCIDENCE), especially when you consider that
Domestic Violence of Psychological nature is one of the most difficult
modalities to detect.

2. It is a survey carried out with freshman college students, admitted in 2000 to


the University of São Paulo (USP) campus.
USP is the largest university in Latin America. It was founded in 1934, and in
1999 it offered 42 undergraduate courses to 39,155 students, who were taught
by approximately 4,728 professors in 21 separate schools of research and
teaching26. The choice of using freshmen as subjects of this research is due to the
fact that they have just recently left adolescence and are, therefore, theoretically
less susceptible to forgetting facts about their earlier years.

*
Emotional abuse is called psychological maltreatment by Garbarino, Guttmann & Seeley (1986). It consists of attitudes
which harm the development of self-esteem, of social competence, of positive and healthy intimate interpersonal
relationships. According to these authors, an adult commits psychological maltreatment when: he rejects the child or
adolescent (refuses to recognize the importance of the child and the legitimacy of its needs); isolates it (separates it from
normal social experiences, does not allow it to make friends and makes the child believe it is alone in the world); terrorizes it
(attacks it verbally, creates a climate of fear, of threat and frightens the child); ignores it (deprives it of essential stimulation
and reaction, restraining intellectual and emotional development); corrupts the child (conducts the socialization of the child
poorly, stimulating it to engage in destructive anti-social behavior; encourages this behavior and makes the child unsuitable
for normal experiences). [Notes of the Author]
26
Data partially extracted from USP em números − Comissão de Qualidade e Produtividade da U SP . São Paulo, 2000.
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3. It was intentionally planned to research possible practices of Psychological


Violence in Families without, however, presenting them as such to the subjects
being researched. Since it is a retrospective study, consequently, we tried to
counterbalance the probable negative interference of the social desirability27
factor.

4. We took as a criterion of Domestic Psychological Violence, the possible


occurrence of one or more of the following ACTS in the everyday family life of
the subjects:

1. R EJECTION (to ignore, to show that they are w orth less than the others…);
2. HUMILIATION (to ridicule, to insult...);
3. ISOLATION (to lock up, to keep them from dating or from hav ing friends…);
4. INDIFERENCE (to depriv e of affection and attention…);
5. T ERROR (to threaten with abandonment, harsh punishment, death, bringing
about extreme fear…).

5. The present research is practically unique internationally and unpublished in


Brazil.

6. The instrument used was an Exploratory Questionnaire, duly pre-tested and


involving two parts:
I. Identification, with demographic information (sex, age and undergraduate
course) and socio-economic information about the individual and his
parents (schooling, occupation, whether employed or not);
II. Different ways28 of dealing with children and adolescents that the
subjects had experienced in their homes as children and adolescents
themselves (0-18 years), and respective occurrence, frequency, duration,
perpetration...

The questionnaire was applied by graduate students in Psychology at USP,


duly trained for this purpose. It was administered to all periods of each course
and to classes with highest attendance rates.
29
7. Respect to the ethical norms of research with human beings was assured,
guaranteeing anonymity and voluntary participation of the subjects, after due
explanation of the objectives of the research was given to them.

27
“It would have been preferable” not to have suffered Domestic Violence of Psychological nature.
28
Selected from an extensive national and international bibliographical research, these FORMS are an translation of DOMEST IC
PSYCHOLOGICAL ACT S OF VIOLENCE
29
The recommendations of the Conselho Federal de Psicologia (Federal Council of Psychology) − Resolution CFP nº
016/2000, December 20, 2000, were used as a basis.
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D. Subjects: RECUPERA TED VOICES


There were 1,172 students who participated in the research, representing 21.1%
of the total of 5,547 freshman students in USP in 2000 (only in the Cidade
Universitária campus of São Paulo, according to data supplied by the Pro-Rectory of
Undergraduate Studies of USP) and 28% of the total number of freshmen in the
researched courses.
Table 4 shows the academic origin of freshmen by School
unit/Course/Period, both for Sample (S) as well as for Population (P). Despite all the
care that was taken, the sample percentages varied a lot according to the Course,
reflecting frequency fluctuations of students, per period.
With sample percentages varying from 5% (Engineering) to 100% (Editing), the
great majority of undergraduate Courses administered at the São Paulo campus was
covered by the research.
The exceptions correspond to:

1st Three courses – Nutrition, Nursing, Dentistry –, where bureaucratic problems


impeded authorizations for data collection from arriving on time;
2nd Two courses – Audiovisual and Meteorology – where there were problems of
registering the information;
3rd One course – Pedagogy – where the majority of students were not freshmen
(2000 ) in the afternoon period;
4th Six courses that – for certain periods only – it was not possible to find classes
with sufficient numbers of freshmen:
a. Social Sciences, night period;
b. Geography, day period;
c. History, afternoon period;
d. Literature, night period;
e. Mathematics (Certification Course), night period;
f. Medicine, day period.

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Voices of Youth

T ABLE 4
Comparison between the number of subjects of the sample and the USP/2000 freshman population, according to
the school unit*, course and period frequented − São Paulo Campus.
Unit Course Day Night Total
S P % S P % S P %
B IO Biological Sciences 40 60 67 56 60 93 96 120 80
Total 40 60 67 56 60 93 96 120 80
LAW Law 51 225 23 30 235 13 81 460 18
Total 51 225 23 30 235 13 81 460 18
ECA* Theater Arts, Certification in Art Education 24 25 96 24 25 96
Arts 8 30 27 8 30 27
Library Sciences 12 15 80 18 20 90 30 35 86
Editing 15 15 100 15 15 100
Journalism 21 25 84 14 25 56 35 50 70
Music 15 30 50 15 30 50
Publicity 15 20 75 18 30 60 33 50 66
Public Relations 16 20 80 13 30 43 29 50 58
Tourism 16 30 53 16 30 53
Total 126 180 70 79 135 59 205 315 65
EDUCATION Pedagogy 20 120 17 20 120 17
Total 20 120 17 20 120 17
EEFE** Physical Education 27 50 54 27 50 54
Sports 22 50 44 22 50 44
Total 49 100 49 49 100 49
PHARMACY Pharmacology 64 75 85 38 69 55 102 144 71
Total 64 75 85 38 69 55 102 144 71
FAU*** Architecture 32 150 21 32 150 21
Total 32 150 21 32 150 21
FEA**** Business Administration 35 100 35 40 110 36 75 210 36
Accounting 24 50 48 45 100 45 69 150 46
Economics 24 90 27 12 90 13 36 180 20
Total 83 240 35 97 300 32 180 540 33
FFLCH***** Sociology 14 100 14 14 100 14
Philosophy 22 80 28 22 80 28
Geography 50 80 63 50 80 63
History 32 140 23 32 140 23
Language and Literature 44 422 10 44 422 10
Total 80 602 13 82 220 37 162 822 20
PHYSICS Physics 17 60 28 10 100 10 27 160 27
Total 17 60 28 10 100 10 27 160 27
GEOSCIENCES Geology 13 50 26 13 50 26
Total 13 50 26 13 50 26
IAG****** Geophysics 10 20 50 10 20 50
Total 10 20 50 10 20 50
IME******* Computer Technology 25 50 50 25 50 50
Mathematics 23 74 31 23 74 31
Total 48 124 39 48 124 39
MEDICINE Physiotherapy 18 25 72 18 25 72
Occupational Therapy 9 25 36 9 25 36
Total 27 50 54 27 50 54
MED VET ZOO Veterinary 24 80 30 24 80 30
Total 24 80 30 24 80 30
POLI Engineering 40 750 5 40 750 5
Total 40 750 5 40 750 5
PSYCHOLOGY Psychology 35 70 50 35 70 50
Total 35 70 50 35 70 50
C HEMISTRY Chemistry 21 60 35 21 60 35
Total 21 60 35 21 60 35
TOTAL 760 2896 26 412 1239 33 1172 4135 28

Obs.: The totals shown on this table were obtained taking into account only the courses and periods that had registered respondents in the sample.
Scholl Units within USP:
* ECA − (Escola de Comunicações e Artes) − School of Communication & Arts.
** EEFE − (Escola de Educação Física e Esportes) − School of Physical Education & Sports.
*** F AU − (Faculdade de Arquitetura e Urbanismo) − School of Architecture & Urbanization.
**** F EA − (Faculdade de Economia e Administração) − School of Economics & Business.
***** F FLCH − (Faculdade de Filosofia, Letras e Ciências Humanas) − School of Philosophy, Liberal Arts and Humanities.
****** IAG − (Instituto de Astronomia, Geofísica e Ciências Atmosféricas) − Institute of Astronomy, Geophysics and Atmospheric Sciences.
******* IME − (Instituto de Matemática e Estatística) − Institute of Mathematics and Statistics.

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Tables 5 and 6 show the distribution of the sample per gender and age.

T ABLE 5
Distribution per gender, according to the school unit of the subjects.
Freshmen U SP/2000 − São Paulo Campus.

Gender
Unit Total
Female Male No Answer
BIO 44 46 6 96
45.8% 47.9% 6.3% 100.0%
Law 38 41 2 81
46.9% 50.6% 2.5% 100.0%
ECA 114 82 9 205
55.6% 40.0% 4.4% 100.0%
Education 18 2 20
90.0% 10.0% 100.0%
EEFE 18 29 2 49
36.7% 59.2% 4.1% 100.0%
Pharmacy 71 29 2 102
69.6% 28.4% 2.0% 100.0%
FAU 14 16 2 32
43.8% 50.0% 6.3% 100.0%
FEA 59 119 2 180
32.8% 66.1% 1.1% 100.0%
FFLCH 82 74 6 162
50.6% 45.7% 3.7% 100.0%
Physics 8 18 1 27
29.6% 66.7% 3.7% 100.0%
Geosciences 6 7 13
46.2% 53.8% 100.0%
IAG 4 5 1 10
40.0% 50.0% 10.0% 100.0%
IME 14 31 3 48
29.2% 64.6% 6.3% 100.0%
Medicine 20 3 4 27
74.1% 11.1% 14.8% 100.0%
Med Vet Zoo 14 7 3 24
58.3% 29.2% 12.5% 100.0%
POLI 12 27 1 40
30.0% 67.5% 2.5% 100.0%
Psychology 21 13 1 35
60.0% 37.1% 2.9% 100.0%
Chemistry 10 9 2 21
47.6% 42,9% 9.5% 100.0%
Total 567 558 47 1172
48.4% 47.6% 4.0% 100.0%

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Voices of Youth

TA BLE 6
A ge distr ibution, accor ding to the school unit of the subjects.
Fr eshmen U SP /2 0 0 0 − C ampus São P aulo.

AGE
UNIT Less than 18 F rom 18 to 21 F rom 22 to 25 More than 25 TOTAL
No answer
years old years old years old years ond

BIO 1 83 8 4 96
1.0% 86.5% 8.3% 4.2% 100.0%
Law 4 70 4 3 81
4.9% 86.4% 4.9% 3.7% 100.0%
ECA 4 154 21 18 8 205
2.0% 75.1% 10.2% 8.8% 3.9% 100.0%
Education 8 3 9 20
40.0% 15.0% 45.0% 100.0%
EEFE 1 38 9 1 49
2.0% 77.6% 18.4% 2.0% 100.0%
Pharmacy 2 85 10 4 1 102
2.0% 83.3% 9.8% 3.9% 1.0% 100.0%
FAU 2 26 2 2 32
6.3% 81.3% 6.3% 6.3% 100.0%
FEA 5 142 18 12 3 180
2.8% 78.9% 10.0% 6.7% 1.7% 100.0%
FFLCH 2 98 32 25 5 162
1.2% 60.5% 19.8% 15.4% 3.1% 100.0%
Physics 1 12 7 6 1 27
3.7% 44.4% 25.9% 22.2% 3.7% 100.0%
Geosciences 11 1 1 13
84.6% 7.7% 7.7% 100.0%
IAG 8 1 1 10
80.0% 10.0% 10.0% 100.0%
IME 1 43 4 48
2.1% 89.6% 8.3% 100.0%
Medicine 27 27
100.0% 100.0%
Med Vet Zoo 22 1 1 24
91.7% 4.2% 4.2% 100.0%
POLI 1 37 1 1 40
2.5% 92.5% 2.5% 2.5% 100.0%
Psychology 29 5 1 35
82.9% 14.3% 2.9% 100.0%
Chemistry 17 3 1 21
81.0% 14.3% 4.8% 100.0%
TOTAL 24 910 129 86 23 1172
2.0% 77.6% 11.0% 7.3% 2.0% 100.0%

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Voices of Youth

From the analysis of the sample distribution, we can conclude that, although
not probabilistic, the sample can be considered to be balanced30.
The FUVEST Report for 2000 shows that the freshmen student population
entering the University in 2000 (in all campuses of USP) was 4,309 men (57.3%) and
3,208 (42.7%) women. Our sample had slightly more female students than the total
population of students entering the university.
As for age brackets, the same Report shows the following data for entering
freshmen:

− 8.8% were less than 18 years old;


− 72.9% were 18 to 21 years old;
− 9% were 22 to 25 years old; and
− 9.2% were more than 25 years old.

Comparatively speaking, our sample had more individuals from the two
intermediate age brackets and fewer in the two end brackets.

E. Results: REVEALING VOICES

E1 Acts of Domestic Psychological Violence [DPV]: P REVALENCE


Table 7 shows an interesting datum, in terms of PREVALENCE: of the 1,172
sample students, only 320 (27.3%) remember having suffered one or more Acts of
what we consider Domestic Psychological Violence: REJECTION, HUMILIATION,
ISOLATION, INDIFFERENCE, TERROR.
These results are even more interesting, because we purposely avoided (in the
questionnaire) the wording DOMESTIC PSYCHOLOGICAL VIOLENCE. Within the
referential framework adopted herein, we opted to investigate the naive conscience of
individuals concerning practices of familial treatment that they had experienced:
negative for sure, but that, with the exception of only one individual, were not
pointed out as being acts of Domestic Psychological Violence. The justification for
not having labeled such acts is the same as that given by Sanchez (1995) when he
writes about Sexual Violence against Children and Adolescents:

It seems reasonable to think that if suitable questions are formulated, the subjects that
disclose hav ing suffered abuse, tell the truth, w hile those that state not hav ing suffered surely
hide the fact or don’t remember, because in this case social desirability dictates that it is
preferable not to hav e suffered abuse…

30
Occasionally one can select the sample based on one’s knowledge of the population and its elements and the nature of the
aims of the research. This method of sampling is sometimes called INT ENT IONAL SAMPLING or BY JUDGEMENT [Babbie, E.
(1999:153). Metodos de pesquisas de survey. Belo Horizonte: Editora UFMG]. The option of applying the questionaire in
classes with more students is an example of this type of sampling. The choice was made after an examination of
populational data and thanks to the ease and low cost of its application.
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Voices of Youth

T ABLE 7
Acts of Domestic Psychological Violence [DPV]: Prevalence, Frequency, Perpetration.
Freshmen U SP/2000 − São Paulo Campus

PERPRETATION

Person or persons who perpetrated Acts of DPV as listed (3)


Most frequent to
Prevalence (1)
you (2)
ACTS OF DPV Only my father More my father Both: father & mother More my mother Only my mother Someone else

Nt* % (1172**) % (320***) N % (Nt) N % (Nt) N % (Nt) N % (Nt) N % (Nt) N % (Nt) N % (Nt)

Indifference 129 11.0 40.3 81 62.8 28 21.7 33 25.6 24 18.6 25 19.4 10 7.8 16 12.4

Humiiation 121 10.3 37.8 46 38.0 20 16.5 28 23.1 19 15.7 15 12.4 20 16.5 30 24.8

Isolation 106 9.0 33.1 54 50.9 15 14.2 24 22.6 23 21.7 19 17.9 15 14.2 15 14.2

Rejection 93 7.9 29.1 37 39.8 22 23.7 22 23.7 13 14.0 15 16.1 13 14.0 15 16.1

Terror 67 5.7 20.9 22 32.8 15 22.4 16 23.9 13 19.4 14 20.9 11 16.4 9 13.4

* Total number of records per ACT OF DPV.


** Number of subject in the sample.
*** Number of subjects in the sub-sample of respondents that maked at least one of the ACTS OF DPV.

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Maybe due to this care, all five acts – which according to literature, define
Domestic Psychological Violence more characteristically – were acknowledged by
our sub-sample of 320 subjects, isolated or in association, in the following decreasing
order of occurrence:

1st INDIFFERENCE (40.3%)


2nd HUMILIATION (37.8%)
3rd ISOLATION (33.1%)
4th REJECTION (29.1%)
5th TERROR (20.9%)

It is important to note that this ranking corresponds to an increasing curve of


violence, from the more subtle to the more ostensive, as seen in the following
discussion.

That the selected ACTS are representative of the universe of DPV can be seen by
examining Table 8: of those who marked at least one of these ACTS , 85.3% did not
mention any other form of familial treatment and only 8 individuals (2.5%) indicated
additional possible forms of DPV.

By examining the content of these forms marked, it is clear, however, that they
could be reduced to the five ACTS presented, if we had supplied the subjects with a
more ample operational definition of them. Consequently:

1. “AUTHORITARIANISM (disregarding my opinion)”,

could also be seen as REJECTION

2. “EXCESSIVE SCOLDING ”
could be seen as HUMILIATION
3. “JESTS OF BAD TATES”

4. “EMOTIONAL BLACKMAIL”
5. “PSYCHOLOGICAL TERRORISM” could be included in TERROR
6. “HARRASMENT”

7. “MIXED ATTENTION,
could fall under INDIFFERENCE
INDIFFERENCE AND BETRAYAL”

8. “EXCESSIVE WORRY”, could be considered ISOLATION

The above verification reinforces the validity of the constructo of our


instrument.
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Voices of Youth

T ABLE 8
Alternatives of Familial Treatment.
Freshmen U SP/2000 − São Paulo Campus

MARKED AT LE AST ONE OF THE FIVE ACTS* SHOWN


ALTERNATIVE
YES NO
N % N %
Not mentioned 273 85.3 442 51.9
Mentioned -In a Positive Manner 26 8.1 342 40.2
Mentioned -with Physical Violence 13 4.1 41 4.8
Mentioned -with possible DPV 8 2.5 26 3.1
Total Subjects 320 100 851 100
1 1 7 1**

* REJECTION, HUMILIATION, ISOLATION, INDIFFERENCE and T ERROR (DPV).


** One Record could not be interpreted, for this reason it was ex cluded from the Table.
NOTE: Sign. test: P = 0,000

To reinforce the hypothesis that the USP/2001 freshmen (São Paulo campus)
either did not suffer Domestic Psychological Violence, or, experienced less serious
forms of the same, we can say that of the 851 subjects who did not mark any of the
five ACTS of DPV, only 7.9% of them marked having suffered other violent forms of
familial treatment (Physical Violence and possibly Psychological Violence)31.
About 40% of these subjects indicated positive (because these were free from
violence) alternative forms, involving “AFFECTION, FRIENDSHIP, LOVE, SUPPORT,
ATTENTION, COMPREHENSION, COMPANIONSHIP, DIALOGUE, EDUCATION, INCENTIVE,
FREEDOM, PROTECTION, RESPECT, TOLERANCE, UNION…”

Tables 9-12 show how ACTS of DPV were distributed according to school units
where the subjects study, their sex and age, as well as their parent’s schooling.
In terms of the school units, a large variation in the prevalence of ACTS of DPV
can be observed. None of the 24 freshmen of Veterinary Medicine registered any of
the five ACTS of DPV. Geosciences and IAG registered only two; respectively,
ISOLATION/INDIFFERENCE and REJECTION/TERROR. Law, Pharmacy and FAU are the
three units with lower percentages in all five ACTS, and Psychology, Polytechnic
School, Physics, Pedagogy and ECA registered the highest percentiles.
The highest and lowest percentages of each ACT occurred in the following
units:

31
Based on the significance test of x2, it can be stated that there is a relationship between not having mentioned ACTS of
DPV and indicating alternative forms of familial treatment.
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LOWEST HIGHEST
a. REJECTION ⇒ Pharmacy Psychology
b. HUMILIATION ⇒ Architecture Physics
c. ISOLATION ⇒ Architecture Pedagogy
d. INDIFFERENCE ⇒ Medicine Chemistry
e. TERROR ⇒ Pharmacy Psychology

T ABLE 9
Prevalence of Acts of DPV, according to the School Unit.
Freshmen U SP/2000 − São Paulo Campus

UNIT REJECTION HUMILIATION I SOLATION INDIFFERENCE TERROR TOTAL**


YE S % YES % Y ES % YE S % YES % (100%)
BIO 7 7.3% 8 8.3% 9 9. 4% 7 7.3% 5 5.2% 96
Law 3 3.7% 4 4.9% 4 4. 9% 4 4.9% 2 2.5% 81
ECA 26 12.7% 25 12.2% 16 7. 8% 35 17.1% 11 5.4% 205
Education 2 10.0% 1 5.0% 6 30. 0% 2 10.0% 2 10.0% 20
EEFE 2 4.1% 2 4.1% 6 12. 2% 2 4.1% 4 8.2% 49
Pharmacy 3 2.9% 8 7.8% 8 7. 8% 6 5.9% 1 1.0% 102
FAU 2 6.3% 1 3.1% 1 3. 1% 2 6.3% 3 9.4% 32
FEA 15 8.3% 25 13.9% 14 7. 8% 23 12.8% 10 5.6% 180
FFLCH 13 8.0% 19 11.7% 15 9. 3% 24 14.8% 11 6.8% 162
Physics 2 7.4% 8 29.6% 6 22. 2% 4 14.8% 4 14.8% 27
Geosciences 1 7. 7% 1 7.7% 13
IAG 1 10.0% 1 10.0% 10
IME 3 6.3% 5 10.4% 3 6. 3% 5 10.4% 3 6.3% 48
Medicina 3 11.1% 1 3.,7% 2 7. 4% 1 3.7% 27
Med Zoo Vet 24
POLI 4 10.0% 5 12.5% 7 17. 5% 4 10.0% 3 7.5% 40
Psychology 6 17.1% 7 20.0% 6 17. 1% 5 14.3% 6 17.1% 35
Chemistry 1 4.8% 2 9.5% 2 9. 5% 4 19.0% 1 4.8% 21
TOTAL (Nt)* 93 7.9% 121 10.3% 106 9. 0% 129 11.0% 67 5.7% 1172
* Total number of records per ACT of DPV.
** Number of subjects in the sample.

Unfortunately is was not possible to identify research that allowed this data to
be interpreted in light of a broader characterization as to the conditioning factor of
the vocational choices of the college students and of their ability to achieve passing
scores in college entrance exams. Anecdotes show that many students choose
Psychology courses – among other reasons – to try to better understand their own
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Voices of Youth

subjective problems. Scattered evidence suggests incidences of suicide among


Engineering students. However, these are mere clues and demand deeper
investigation.

T ABLE 10
Prevalence of Acts of DPV, according to gender of subjects.
Freshmen U SP/2000 − São Paulo Campus

SEX REJECTION HMILIATION ISOLATION INDIFFERENCE TERROR


TOTAL**
YES % YES % YES % YES % YES %

Female 42 7.4% 47 8.3% 56 9.9% 58 10. 2% 26 4.6% 567


Male 48 8.6% 72 12.9% 45 8.1% 65 11. 6% 39 7.0% 558
No answersta 3 6.4% 2 4.3% 5 10.6% 6 12. 8% 2 4.3% 47

TOTAL (Nt)* 93 7.9% 121 10.3% 106 9.0% 129 11. 0% 67 5.7% 1172
* Total number of records per ACT of DPV.
** Number of subjects in the sample.

As far as gender is concerned, the prevalence of almost all five ACTS was
slightly greater for males. The only exception was ISOLATION, which is probably due
to different standards of education for gender in our society, one of which is the
restriction in the freedom of movement for the feminine sex, traditionally educated
to have greater submission and less initiative and boldness.

T ABLE 11
Prevalence of Acts of DPV, according to the age group of the subjects.
Freshmen U SP/2000 − São Paulo Campus

AGE GROUP REJECTION HUMILIATION ISOLATION I NDIFFERENCE TERROR


TOTAL**
YES % YES % YES % YES % YES %

Less than 18 years 1 4.2% 1 4.2% 1 4.2% 2 8.3% 24

From 18 to 21 years 63 6.9% 85 9.3% 74 8.1% 89 9.8% 49 5.4% 910

From 22 to 25 years 13 10.1% 17 13.2% 18 14.0% 22 17.1% 8 6.2% 129

More than 25 years 14 16.3% 17 19.8% 11 12.8% 16 18.6% 10 11.6% 86

No answer 2 8.7% 1 4.3% 2 8.7% 23

TOTAL (Nt)* 93 7.9% 121 10.3% 106 9.0% 129 11.0% 67 5.7% 1172

* Total number of records per ACT of DPV.


** Number of subjects in the sample.

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As far as age is concerned the prevalence percentages are progressively higher


in almost all five ACTS as age increases. This seems to indicate that the practice of
DPV may be considered a residual heritage of the past. The rupture seems to occur
between the generation of those younger than 21 and those older than 21. The
exception occurred in acts of ISOLATION, the percentage of which decreases with older
subjects.

T ABLE 12
Prevalence of Acts of DPV, according to the schooling of the subject’s mother and father.
Freshmen U SP/2000 − São Paulo Campus

MOTHER'S SCHOOLING REJECTION HUMILIATION ISOLATION INDIFFERENCE TERROR


TOTAL**
YES % YES % YES % YES % YES %

None/Illiterate 1 11.1% 1 11. 1% 1 11. 1% 3 33.3% 1 11. 1% 9


None/Literate 11 18.3% 9 15. 0% 11 18. 3% 13 21.7% 5 8.3% 60
Other Courses 2 6.5% 2 6. 5% 2 6. 5% 6 19.4% 2 6.5% 31
Primary School 16 10.7% 19 12. 7% 25 16. 7% 20 13.3% 8 5.3% 150
Secondary School 31 10.0% 36 11. 7% 25 8. 1% 34 11.0% 21 6.8% 309
University 31 5.1% 52 8. 6% 40 6. 6% 52 8.6% 30 5.0% 603
No answer 1 10.0% 2 20. 0% 2 20. 0% 1 10.0% 10
TOTAL (Nt)* 93 7.9% 121 10. 3% 106 9. 0% 129 11.0% 67 5.7% 1172

FATHER'S SCHHOLING REJECTION HUMILIATION ISOLATION INDIFFERENCE TERROR


TOTAL**
YES % YES % YES % YES % YES %

None/Illiterate 4 30.8% 2 15. 4% 3 23. 1% 4 30.8% 1 7.7% 13


None/Literate 10 17.5% 3 5. 3% 15 26. 3% 11 19.3% 6 10. 5% 57
Other Courses 1 2.6% 3 7. 7% 2 5. 1% 3 7.7% 39
Primary School 13 11.5% 19 16. 8% 14 12. 4% 19 16.8% 9 8.0% 113
Secondary School 17 6.8% 30 12. 0% 25 10. 0% 28 11.2% 16 6.4% 249
University 45 6.6% 63 9. 2% 45 6. 6% 61 8.9% 35 5.1% 683
No answer 3 16.7% 1 5. 6% 2 11. 1% 3 16.7% 18
TOTAL (Nt)* 93 7.9% 121 10. 3% 106 9. 0% 129 11.0% 67 5.7% 1172

* Total number of records per ACT of DPV.


** Number of subjects in the sample.

Finally, the percentages of prevalence of each one of the ACTS increased as the
parent’s schooling decreased. The very small percentages of subjects whose parents
are illiterate and/or only just literate does not allow us to reach any conclusion
regarding the practice of DPV as characteristic of these parents.
What the data shows is that, contrary to what common sense would have us
believe, all ACTS of DPV are consistently present in families where the father and/or
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mother have university degrees. As Iwaniec (1995) states, emotionally abusive and neglectful
parents have quite affluent backgrounds, good education and good current material standards .
Also according to Iwaniec (1995),

in these families there is an air of coldness and tension (almost a clinical atmosphere) that
prohibits freedom of play , activ ity and ex pression, as w ell as the dev elopment of indiv iduality .
Interaction betw een parents and children lacks w armth and approv al. There are orders instead
of requests, criticisms instead of correction and guidance, and pressures to achiev e at school
w ithout considering the child’s ability and ex pectations (...)

The prevalence of REJECTION and HUMILIATION in families whose parents have


university education can fit within this scenario.
On the other hand, in the case of parents with minimum schooling, one can
speculate that resorting to ACTS of DPV (especially ISOLATION/TERROR) could have
been a desperate strategy by them to guarantee their children’s entrance into USP. In
this highly competitive college entrance exam only a severe discipline of study could
assure the entrance of social climbers, that is, young people coming from less
educated and poorer classes.

E2 Acts of Domestic Psychological Violence [DPV]: P ROFILE


The profile of an ACT of DPV involves various facets, specific to the conditions
of the violent practice. Among these, the following will be addressed (Tables 7 and
13):
1. perpetrator, because literature demonstrates that besides making a difference
which parent carries out the act, whether father or mother, if it is carried out by
both it usually has a more toxic effect on the victim;
2. frequency, to the extent that research in the area of Domestic Violence against
Children and Adolescents suggests that repeated practice of the act usually
reinforces the marks left by the same;
3. starting age and
4. duration: domestic violence (against women, children and adolescents) is a
phenomenon that begins early and ends late in the life of the victims, according
to epidemiological data available. Evidently, in a survey of PREVALENCE such as
this one, there are memory limitations to “starting early”. There are also limits
to that of “ending late”, since the subjects are all young.

All of these facets will be analyzed for each of the five ACTS of DPV, as follows,
in order of their PREVALENCE in the sample.

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T ABLE 13
A CTS of DPV: Starting age and duration.
Freshmen U SP/2000 − São Paulo Campus

DURATION (in years)


Starting Age Average Standard D N %
Less than 3 year s 10.3 6.6 9 14.3
From 3 to 6 years 6.5 4.4 17 27.0
I NDIFFERENCE
From 7 to 11 years 5.5 3.1 27 42.9
From 12 to 17 years 3.3 1.5 10 15.9
TOTAL 6.1 4.3 63 100.0
Starting Age Average Standard D N %
Less than 3 year s 14.0 5.9 8 13.1
From 3 to 6 years 9.1 4.7 16 26.2
HUMILIATION
From 7 to 11 years 6.2 3.2 25 41.0
From 12 to 17 years 3.2 1.6 12 19.7
TOTAL 7.4 5.0 61 100.0
Starting Age Average Standard D N %
Less than 3 year s 14.3 5.6 8 13.8
From 3 to 6 years 7.6 4.3 18 31.0
ISOLATION
From 7 to 11 years 5.6 2.7 20 34.5
From 12 to 17 years 3.2 1.5 12 20.7
TOTAL 6.9 4.9 58 100.0
Starting Age Average Standard D N %
Less than 3 year s 15.5 2.9 4 9.8
From 3 to 6 years 7.9 5.7 7 17.1
REJECTION
From 7 to 11 years 5.3 3.0 22 53.7
From 12 to 17 years 3.3 1.8 8 19.5
TOTAL 6.3 4.7 41 100.0
Starting Age Average Standard D N %
Less than 3 year s 11.9 5.1 10 27.0
From 3 to 6 years 9.1 4.6 13 36.1
TERROR
rom 7 to 11 years 5.0 2.7 10 27.8
From 12 to 7 years 3.7 1.5 3 8.3
TOTAL 8.3 5.0 36 100.0
Obser vation: Number of cases with complete information: 174 in 320.

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1st
INDIFFERENCE

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Indifference. n. 1. The state or quality of being


indifferent. 2. Lack of interest or concern. 3. Lack of
importance; insignificance.
The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language
(1975). American Heritage Publishing Co., Inc.

Indifference − as a form of DPV, has various facets. Two of them, as illustrated


previously, imply a double negation (emotional and cognitive): to not give love
and/or attention to a child or an adolescent. There are other variations, as described
in literature:

(...) not to speak to a child or an adolescent unless strictly necessary ; to ignore their needs,
mentally 32.

Indifference (at the cognitive or emotional level) is a perverse form of denying a


person of responsiveness in terms of affection and human interest. Being INSENSITIVE
to and/or INATTENTIVE to a child or adolescent are signs of INDIFFERENCE as DPV,
which must not be confused with NEGLECT (modality of Domestic Violence against
Children and Adolescents33). Although referred to by some as emotional neglect,
Indifference occurs when meaningful adults are unable to provide necessary nurturance, stimulation,
encouragement and protection to the child, at various stages of development (Whiting, 1976).

Parents who seldom interact with their children, who do not speak, play or encourage new activities and
opportunities to learn (Iwaniec , 1995), are INDIFFERENT parents, to whom children can
become a real burden.

Indifferent parents also tend to be DISTANT, NON PARTICIPATIVE and/or non


companions, largely IGNORING their children’s behavior, with all their needs, all their
challenges and their all important complicity.

Our subjects described these parents as responsible for a scenario of familial


loneliness, loneliness that, as stated by Iwaniec (1999), could represent a true emotional
vacuum .

The writer, Antonio Carlos Villaça 34, vividly portrays this scenario in his
autobiographical work, O Nariz do Morto.

32
Stevens, L.E. (1999). Qu’est-ce que la violence psychologique? Ottawa: Centre National d’Information sur la Violence dans
la Famille. This study compiles operational conceptions of Psychological Violence.
33
Neglect is when parents or care-givers fail in terms of providing the physical needs of health, educational and hygienic
needs of their children and/or fail to supervise their activities in order to avoid risks and when this fails it is not due to
conditions of life beyond their control. [Azevedo, M.A. & Guerra, V.N.A. (1998:177). Infância e violência fatal em família. São
Paulo: Iglu]
34
Essayist, memoir writer and journalist, born in Rio de Janeiro (1928). Major books: O nariz do morto (1970); Degustações:
memórias (1972); O anel (1972); O livro de Antonio (1974); Monsenhor (1975).
[The choice of extracts was made by Oliveira, M.H.P. (2001). Lembranças do passado: a infância na vida dos escritores
brasileiros. Bragança Paulista: U SF]
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I summon my childhood, but it just doesn’t come. I can’t see anything. Only
fog. A fact or another. A flash. Nonetheless, the presence of childhood is strong
inside me. But not of my childhood. M ine w as a lonely childhood. I w as not
inundated w ith toys, I didn’t have unforgettable friends. A childhood of an only
child – confined.
I had nervous tw itches, and shook my hands frantically. As if I w anted to
break through the w alls of the tight corridor I found myself in. M y childhood was
this: a corridor. I talked to myself. I w anted horizons, variety. I don’t remember the
yellow cat at all, a non-cat, but toy, that my grandmother gave me and I know
because of my parents, but for me, I don’t know . The cat doesn’t ex ist in me.
What ex ists is so little. The boy w ho shakes his hands like an epileptic, in the most
tedious loneliness, and w hose amusement is talking to himself.
What did I use to say to myself? How do I know ? But I remember the impact,
of the strange repercussion that occurred w ithin me, on the 27 th of November of
35: the communist revolution. I w as seven years old. That did something to me
and I started playing that I w as tax i driver ferrying the fleeing bourgeoisie…I spent
hours sitting – in this unreality. Liberation through the w ord.
I w as a more or less unhappy child. What w ords w ere mine when I escaped
to the unreal, I don’t know : but I do know that the feeling of my childhood is that
of loneliness. I w as a chatterbox , ex tremely sociable. M y communicability w as
impressive. But I w as very alone.
(…)
M y father left early in the morning and came back at night. He w orked
hard, he even w orked on Saturdays and Sundays (till midday). I w as never close
to him, during childhood. Nor w as he close to anyone. M other respected him. I…
lived w ith him at a distance. Sometimes he came home for lunch: he’d arrive in a
hurry, uncommunicative, and w ould soon leave, w ith an ex pression of one whose
mind is somew here else. M y father lived for his w ork, he w anted to get rich,build
his ow n independence. Being an employee humiliated him. He dreamed of
restoring his grandfather’s, or even his father’s rich mansion that had fallen into
disrepair. And in this dream, this need, he deluded himself, he suffered,
surrendering all, obstinacy and intelligence.
He lived very little for the family. Not that he w as a bohemian, a
merrymaker, a w omanizer, or simply an egoist. No, he w asn’t. He w as a man of
w ork. He lived for his w ork – ex clusively. Home w as w here he came to reorganize
himself, to continue, to get to w hat he w anted to achieve. Intelligent,a practical
intelligence, but lacking in malice, and inflex ible. He alw ays lacked flex ibility.
M ore than once obstinacy set him back from his destiny, in dramatic tw ists. At
home, dad talked little, kept himself to himself, cautious, distant. He w as a sad
man. He pretended happiness w hen there w ere visitors or w hen w e visited
someone, but it w as just a defense, a mechanism of occasion. He w as sad.
Reserved. He liked us, my mother and I, noiseless (…)
What kind of a child w as I? What kind of life did I have? A happy,
affectionate and talkative child, but life w as unhappy, w ith mediocre habits –
insipid… In the small, hot house, three beings passed the time of day: my mother,
the young maid and I, boy… M y mother w as solicitous. But she had the w hole
house to look after. The maid used to play w ith me for a w hile, but she had to
cook, to clean. I stayed by myself – w ith my loneliness (...)

SOURCE: VILLAÇA, Antonio Carlos (1970). O nariz do morto. Rio de Janeiro: JMC . 143p.

Indifference was the modality most frequently experienced by the subjects that
marked at least one of the ACTS of DPV [129 records] [Table 7].
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Regarding the perpetrator, 24 (18.6%) of these records show that both parents
were accused of INDIFFERENCE. The father (on his own or primarily) was responsible
for 47.3% of these charges, while the mother (on her own or primarily) was
responsible for 27.2%. Other people (brothers, uncles and aunts, grandparents,
stepparents…) were responsible for 16 (12.4%) accounts of INDIFFERENCE.
Regarding the starting age, the most frequent age group was 7-11 years (girl
and boyhood) with an average duration of 5 years and 5 months. It is interesting to
note that although debatable, almost 15% of the subjects indicated the occurrence of
INDIFFERENCE before the age of 3, with an average duration of 10.3 years [Table 13].

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2nd
HUMILIATION

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Humiliation. n. 1. The act of humiliating; degradation.


2. The state or condition of being humiliated; disgrace;
shame. 3. Religious mortification.
Humiliate. Tr.v. 1. To lower the pride, dignity, or
status of; to humble or disgrace; degrade. 3. To subject
to humiliation; mortify.
The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language
(1975). American Heritage Publishing Co., Inc.

There are innumerable means and ways of humiliating a human being because
it varies from culture to culture and from person to person, in that humiliation has, as
its counterpart, the feeling of ridicule. It’s what happens, for instance, in unnecessary,
nasty mockery, as the previous figure demonstrates. The form of ridicule will
depend, in turn, on norms, standards and social values. Consequently,

(...) the mov ie director, Ingmar Bergman, spoken in a telev ision program (...) of the
implications of his ow n childhood that he described as a long history of humiliation. He told, for
ex ample, that is he w et his pants he w ould hav e to use a red dress all day long so that
ev ery one w ould know that he had done and, in this w ay , w ould be ashamed of himself.
(Miller, 1986)

In the afore shown autobiographical poem, Cora Coralina, reknown Brazilian


poet, recalls innumerable humiliations she suffered at home: the stigmatizing
nicknames, the repeated criticism, the predications (devastating) of failure.
Ney Latorraca, a well-known Brazilian actor, recalls paternal criticism, that
perversely demolished his self-esteem.

M y father w as very laid back in his attitude to life and, w ith the passage of
time, he lost his chance, and closed all the doors.
He w as seen as being a difficult person.
Disbelief w as a constant all his life. Even up to his death he insisted on
saying that I w ould be a nothing. After I discovered that to his friends,he said
to the contrary. (Rito, 1999)

Bergman, Coralina, Latorraca: three people in the Art world, separated in time
and space, but united by a coomon experience: that of childhood humiliation, a real
toxin aimed at poisoning their seld-esteem.
Humiliation that − while an ACT de DPV − is a way of degrading a person, of
putting them down in front of themselves and/or in front of others.
As Stevens (1999) explains, HUMILIATION can include the following practices:
insulting a person, ridiculing them, calling them names, insulting them or making them feel childish, behaving in a
way that is contrary to their identity, their dignity and their self-esteem.
A Dutch writer, whose mother and stepfather were doctors, remembers the
vicious circle of familial humiliation:

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Both kept telling me that I resembled my biological father, who went crazy
and killed himself; they used to say that I w as “crazy” too... And I believed
them due to their medical know -how , having lived for more than 30 years
convinced that I w as “crazy”. (Stamperius, 2000)

Parents and carers w ho persistently criticize, shame, rebuke... ridicule, humiliate, put
dow n... w ho are nev er satisfied w ith their child’s behav ior and performance (and do this
deliberately to hurt the child) are emotionally abusive and cruel . (Iwaniec, 1995)

It is a question of “mental cruelty”, also reported by our freshmen as “over-


demanding”, “demanding things rather than encouraging”, “reprimanding in
excess” and even pure “persecution”…
The data of our survey showed that humiliation was the second most recorded
modality among the five ACTS of DPV (121 records) [Table 7]. However − perhaps
because it is sometimes subtle and masked behind words, gestures and looks etc. −
only 38% of these records indicated it as the most frequent in childhood and/or
adolescence respectively.
Regarding the punitive figure, the father (on his own or primarily) appeared in
39.6% of the cases against 28.9% of the mother (on her own or primarily). Both father
and mother were indicated in 15.7% of the cases. The significant datum is that other
people (brothers, sisters, uncles and aunts, grandfathers and grandmothers, step-
parents and even nannies) were mentioned in 24.8% of the cases.
Table 13 shows that − like INDIFFERENCE − it was in the 7-11 years age group
that the practice of humiliation started (for most subjects whose data could be
computed). However, its average duration was greater than in the case of
INDIFFERENCE (6.2 years). Another interesting observation is that most of the records
indicate a recollection of HUMILIATION before the age of 12 and, therefore, in the
subject’s childhood (even before the age of 3). If we recall with Erikson (1963), that it
is from birth to the age of two that the child develops self-confidence and its own
feeling of self-security, it is easy to understand how destructive HUMILIATION can be
for the development of the SELF …
The following passages, taken from the book Affliction35, show how the father
took advantage of, whether because of normal difficulties in the childhood
development (sphincter control), or whether because of personal preferences
(religion) as a pretext to HUMILIATE his children:

You lit t le prick − Pop yelled, his eyes narrow ing, and he raised his fist over
Wade’s head.
− Don’t ! M a cried, and the fist came dow n.
(...) He put the glass on top of the counter at his side and stared at his son −
Yellow belly − he said...
In that aw ful scornful tone, dad said:

(...) S issies. All of you. These are my kids, J esus freaks and sissies... (Banks, 1989)

35
This book gave rise to a film by the same name. There is a Debate Guide (Guia de Debates) on the film, prepared by the
LACRI. See ieditora@com.br in the area of Education.
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Both in the case of Bergman, as in the case of Wade, pants- wetting is something
shameful because it is incompatible with the macho idea of a man, present in the
family and society of his time.
For these parents, humiliation would be a strategy directed at avoiding “sissy
kids”, inferior beings therefore...

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3rd
ISOLATION

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Julian Trigo
From the series “CRIANÇAS”, 1994

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Isolation. n. 1. The act of isolating. 2. The condition of


being isolated. – See Synonyms at solitude.
Isolate. Tr.v. 1. To separate from a group or whole
and set apart. 2. To place in quarantine. 3. Chemistry
(...). 4. To render free of external influence; insulate.
[Back-formation from isolated, from French isolé, from
Italian isolato, from Late Latin insulatus, converted into
an island, form Latin insula, island. See isle.]

The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language


(1975). American Heritage Publishing Co., Inc.

Of the five ACTS being studied, this is the one whose significance is less broad,
conveying two basic ideas: that of separation and that of confinement, as illustrated
in the previous figure. In both cases the resultant is to hinder or even impede the
child or adolescent’s relationships and social communication.
Some symbolic cases can be remembered on the international plane. They are
extreme cases, whether because of the cruelty of confinement imposed on the child or
adolescent, or whether because of the tragic consequences.

CRUEL I SOLATION
I can say quite frankly now that I had a kind of premonition, a feeling that something
bad was going on between my mother and I. The situation at home became more and
more difficult. The punishments began suddenly. They rained down on me brutally. It was
mostly to do with eating, that the slaps abounded. I ate poorly and slowly.
It was during meal times. We were all at the table. Up to that point I still had a plate, a
knife, a fork, just like everyone else. She always gave me a few minutes to finish eating.
Not a second longer. Well, I was a slow-eater. She couldn’t stand this. Sometimes I
couldn’t even swallow what she gave me.
For example, there was a meal with tripe that was always served, which I absolutely
refused and that she forced me to eat. Each time, I died of disgust. She used to get so
infuriated that I never knew what was in store for me.
She used to put me, for hours on end, kneeling on an iron bar, my nose against the
wall. Or then, she would lock me in the bathroom for entire days. Or, yet, at night, I’d be
deprived of my bed and would have to sleep on the doorstep. And that’snot talking about
the smacking, slaps delivered for no apparent reason….
It was an afternoon or morning. I can’t remember anymore. I was on my kneeson the
doorstep. I was being punished, of course. My mother was all in a fluster. I had a funny
feeling. I was sure something very bad was going to happen. I looked to the bathroom
door: “I hope she takes me to nanny’s house, I hope I get out of here...”. I was petrified
with fear. I could hardly breathe. I waited.
Then she grabbed me. She stuck me in the bathroom and locked the door. Yes, there
I was. Locked alone, without light. For how long? I was four and a half years old. From
then on I didn’t leave the bathroom. I was bound, hand and foot, to my mother.
(...) There was a window in the bathroom that I could see out of, when the slatswere
open – which was rare-, the sky and the curtains of the building in front.
I was almost always chained, face to the wall, with a chain around my waist, tied to a
dog lead or to another chain, which in turn was wrapped around a pipe that went through

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the bathroom wall. The chain cut into my waist, when I moved or wanted to stretch
myself. As a result, I have the most bizarre scars.
She had closed me in and chained me there, closing all openingsaround me: the slats
padlocked shut, and as there was no lock on the door, she invented a system with nails
and rope that kept it locked from the outside...
(...) There are memories too painful to recall: at Christmas, for example, I could hear
them from behind the door. They celebrated. My brother received presents, lots of
presents. I had a right to nothing, except to listen to them from inside the bathroom. My
brother was the chosen child; I, just an animal. And even so, animals are better treated ...

SOURCE: BISSON , D. & DE SCHONEN , E. (1993). L’enfant derrière la porte. Paris: B. Grasset.

TRAGIC I SOLATION
It w as difficult to say. When October arrived, the Lisbon’s house began to seem
less happy. The blue-slated roof, that at certain times looked like a suspended
lake, visibly darkened. The yellow bricks had turned Brow n. Bats flew out of the
chimney at dusk, like they used to do in the Stamarow ski mansion on the other
block. Since forever w e’d seen bats flying around the Stamarow ski house, zig-
zagging and diving w hile the girls shrieked and covered their long hair. M r.
Stamarow ski w ore black roll-necked sw eaters and stood w atching from the
terrace. At dusk, he allow ed us to run on the enormous law n, and once we found
a dead bat, w ith a w ithered old face and tw o sharp teeth, in one of the flower
beds. We alw ays thought that bats had come from Poland w ith the Stamarowskis;
flying around the dark house w ith its velvet curtains and decadent air of the Old
World, they seemed to fit the picture. But not over the double, eminently practical
chimney of the Lisbon’s house. There w ere other signs of the spreading desolation.
The doorbell, w hich used to light up, w ent out. The bird feeder, in the yard, fell
and w as left on the ground. In the box w here the milk w as delivered, Mrs. Lisbon
left a note to milkman: “Stop delivering bad milk!” Recalling that time,Mrs. Higbie
insisted that M r. Lisbon, using a long rod, had closed all the outside shutters...
If it w asn’t to school or church, the Lisbons w ent now here...
As for the other fellow s, they spent the rest of the night driving around our
suburb. They passed by the Little Club, the Yacht Club, the Hunt Club. They
crossed the Village, w here the shop w indow s of Hallow een had been changed
for those of Thanksgiving. At 1:30, unable to stop from thinking of the girls w hose
presence still filled the car, they decided to pass by the Lisbon’s house once
more...
Arriving close to the Lisbon’s house they saw a light on in one of the bedroom
w indow s. Parkie Denton raised his hand for the other to smack. “I won”, he said.
But his happiness w as short lived. Because, even before stopping the car, they
knew w hat had happened. “It was like a blow t o t he solar plexus knowing that
t hose girls would never again go out ”, Kevin Head told us years later.
“The old wit ch had locked t hem up again. Don’t ask me how I knew. I just
knew, t hat ’s all”. The curtains w ere draw n like eyelids and the w ithered flowers in
the flow erbeds gave an air of neglect. How ever, in the w indow w here the only
light shone, the curtains fluttered. A hand pulled it back, revealing a flash of
golden face – Bonnie, M ary, Thereza, or even Lux − looking to the street. Parkie
Denton honked, a short, hopeful honk, but at the ex act moment that the girl
placed the palm of her hand on the w indow pane, the light w ent out...
Some w eeks later, after M rs. Lisbon locked the house in a max imum security
isolation, the scenes of Lux making love on the roof began.

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After the school prom, M rs. Lisbon shut all the ground floor curtains. The
max imum w e could see w as the shadow of the incarcerated girls that caused an
uproar in our minds. Aside from this, as autumn turned to w inter, the trees in the
garden drooped more thickly, hiding the house, even though the lack of leaves
should reveal it. A cloud seemed to constantly hover over Lisbon’s roof. There was
no reason other than a psychic one, the house had become somber because
M rs. Lisbon w anted it that w ay. The sky darkened and light abandoned the day,
in such a w ay that w e alw ays moved in a shadow outside of time, and the only
w ay of telling the time of day w as by the taste of our burps, tooth-paste in the
morning, permeated w ith the taste of gooey meat served for lunch in the
cafeteria , in the afternoon.
Without any ex planation, the girls w ere taken out of school. They simply didn’t
turn up one morning, nor the morning after. When M r. Woodhouse asked w hat
w as happening, M r. Lisbon looked as if he hadn’t even noticed that they had
gone aw ay. He cont inued saying, “Have you verified?”...
Everyone thought that a punishment w ould follow Lux ’s inability to respect the
curfew , but no one ex pected it to be so drastic. How ever, when we spoke to Mrs.
Lisbon years later, she guaranteed us that her decision w as not intended to be
punitive. “At t hat point , st aying in school would only have worsened t hings” she
said. “None of t he ot her kids t alked t o t he girls. Only t he boys, and you know what
t hey were aft er. The girls needed some t ime t o t hemselves. A mother knows these
t hings. I t hought t hat if t hey st ayed home t hey would get bet t er sooner”.

SOURCE: EUGENIDES, J. (1994). As virgens suicidas. Rio de Janeiro: Rocco.

The film, with same title, directed by Sofia Coppola, was based on the book. [CIC
Vídeo, 2000]

Isolation can be employed as a punitive tactic by parents or care-givers. But it


also can become a genuine life style for the victims, as was the case of Davi Bisson
and the Virgin suicides. That is why Stevens (1999) operationally defines ISOLATION
as ACTS that entail limiting the vital space of a person, reducing their contacts, restricting their freedom of
movement in their own surroundings .
ISOLATION tactics can vary according to the age and sex of the victim:

Prev enting or making it difficult for y ou to see friends or relativ es; monitoring phone calls,
telling y ou w here y ou can and cannot go (The Body Shop, 1995); locking a child in a
closet or keeping the child alone in a room; refusing a grandparent contact w ith his
grandchildren (...).

Our subjects indicated that being prohibited from leaving the house was one
of the isolationist tactics used on them.
As an ACT of DPV, the profile of ISOLATION does not differ much from those
already analyzed. It occupied 3rd place in terms of PREVALENCE (106 records). In half
of these (50.9%) it was the practice most frequently carried out. [Table 7]
As to who was responsible for carrying it out (perpetrator) the father (on his
own or primarily) appeared in 36.8% of the records, while the mother (on her own or
primarily) was indicated in 32.1% of these. In 21.7% of the cases it was carried out

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jointly between the two parents and in 14.2%, other people were mentioned (relatives
to the first and second degree).
As occurred with the other ACTS of DPV, the practice of ISOLATION started more
frequently from 7 to 11 years of age, which leads to the assumption that it was
employed punitively. However, in 13.8% of the cases it began before the age of 3 and
lasted an average of 14.3 years, which suggests its use as a way of life for the victim.
[Table 13]
Research data confirm what the cases of Davi Bisson and the Virgin Suicides
lead us to suspect: that it is a universally adopted practice. Khamis (2000) documented
its frequent occurrence in the families of 1000 Palestinian children, ranging in age
from 12 to 16 years: very often my parents lock me in a separate room.
Such a statement is cause for concern because it reveals the normativeness of
Psychological Violence in the family routine, in that the practice of ISOLATION ends
up by interfering in the development of the sense of INITIATIVE and creating lasting
feelings like those illustrated by Villaça , in the afore- mentioned book:

I liv ed a closed, locked childhood. My parents w ouldn’t let me out. The clearest impression I
hav e is of being a prisoner.

Villaça’s autobiographical statement reveals an ISOLATION whereby the child


lives enclosed within the family surrounding, which can, in certain circumstances,
take on the form of a suffocating, over-protection and one which stifles personal
development. One of our freshmen referred to it as excess worry and, in a circular
published in 1980 (Iwaniec, 1995), the British Department of Health and Social
Security, considered this practice harmful (to minors under 17).

Paradoxically, super-protective ISOLATION, instead of protecting, could


represent a real danger to the mental health of children and adolescents.

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4th
REJECTION

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Rejection. n. 1. The act or process of rejecting. 2. The


condition of being rejected. 3. Something rejected.
Reject. tr.v. 1. To refuse to accept, recognize, or make
use of; repudiate. 2. To refuse to consider or grant;
deny. 3. To refuse affection or recognition to (a perón).
4. To discard as defective or useless; throw away. 5.
To spit out or vomit. – See synonyms at refuse. – n.
Something or someone that has been rejected. [Middle
English rejecten, from Latin rejicere (past participle
rejectus), to throw back: re- back, away + jacere, to
throw]
The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language
(1975). American Heritage Publishing Co., Inc.

Rejection − as a Brazilian popular song says − is like a one way street, in that it
carries the implicit message of NON ACCEPTANCE; not of someone’s behavior, but of
the person himself, violating one of the most basic needs of the human being: that of
being accepted by parents or care-givers.
The dictionary indicates that there are several ways of rejecting something or
someone. In order for it to constitute an ACT of DPV, the message NON ACCEPTANCE,
must come embellished with CONTEMPT, DEVALUATION of the person to whom it is
intended, as illustrated in the previous figure.
That is why Stevens (1999) defines and illustrates it in the following manner:

Reject a person − ignore his/her presence or v alue; make the person understand that
he/she is useless or inferior; underrate the person’s ideas and feelings. Ex ample: constantly
treat a child differently to his brothers or sisters so that the child believ es it is not w anted, that
y ou reject and that y ou dislike the child.

Rohner (1986) characterizes REJECTION as a standard form of parental behavior


which is devoid of warmth and affection. A standard that can supposedly be expressed
through hostility, aggression and even overt cruelty, or it can take on a shrouded,
subtle form, that involves parental omission. That is why REJECTION can, in some
cases, be confounded with INDIFFERENCE, HUMILIATION and even TERROR. It can
involve ISOLATION, while applied as a punitive strategy, resulting in hostility or
aggression to the child or adolescent.
The child or adolescent frequently represents an encumbrance or burden to
parents. The feeling of being rejected in the family, produces children lacking in
affection. As a result of this, they become emotionally dependent on the parents or
significant adults, who are sometimes aggressive and hostile to them, being
emotionally repressed or contained themselves.
The testimony of a victim of DPV, reproduced in footnote no. 20, clearly
illustrates the scenario of REJECTION experienced within the family.

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One of our freshmen pointed out depression as a consequence of REJECTION


experienced in the home.
As regards the profile of REJECTION, it is highly similar to the other ACTS
analyzed, which explains the possible overlapping between them (Tables 7 and 13).
REJECTION was rated 4th in terms of PREVALENCE, and it had 93 registered
accounts, much less than the previous ACTS. This might be due to the difficulty in
admitting to having been rejected by precisely those that should accept and protect
us. As a substantiation of this hypothesis, the percentage of registered accounts that
specified rejection as the most frequent familial treatment did not reach 40% (39.8%).
The father (on his own or primarily) continued to be the main perpetrator:
47.4% against 30.1% for the mother (on her own or primarily). The joint action of
both the father and mother was responsible for 14% of the cases, even less than those
attributed to other people, whether other family members or not (16.1%).
As for the starting age, the most frequent age group continued to be 7-11 years,
with an average duration of 5.3 years. In approximately 80% of the analyzed cases, it
began before the age of 12, and in 9.8% of these it had occurred before the age of 3
with an average duration of 15.5 years.
Considering the destructive nature of REJECTION, one can imagine its effect on
such long lasting cases.
To understand what it means to be treated like an inferior being, useless and
with no value, one only needs to reread Cora Coralina’s poem…

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5th
TERROR

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Terror. n. 1. Intense, overpowering fear. 2. Anything


that instills such fear; a terrifying object or occurrence.
3. The ability to instill such fear; terribleness: the terror
of a haunted house. 4. Violence toward private citizens,
public property, and political enemies promoted by a
political group to achieve or maintain supremacy. 5.
Informal An annoying or intolerable pest; nuisance.
Often used in the phrase a holy terror. [Middle English
terrour, from Old French, from Latin terror, from terrere,
to frighten.]
Terrorize. tr.v. To fill or overpower with terror; terrify.
2. To coerce by intimidation or fear.
Terrorism. n. 1. The use of terror, violence, and
intimidation to achieve an end. 2. Fear and subjugation
produced by this. 3. A system of government that uses
terror to rule.
The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language
(1975). American Heritage Publishing Co., Inc.

Of all of the five ACTS of DPV, TERROR appears to be the most SERIOUS, because of
its paralyzing, intimidating and terrifying effect. TERRORIZING is a strategy aimed at
securing the complete submission of a person under another’s will.
In an interesting study, Azevedo & Guerra (2001)36 compared the tactics of
DOMESTIC TERROR to those of POLITICAL TERROR. They grimly concluded that

When political VIOLENCE and domestic VIOLENCE take on such ex treme forms as to impose
phy sical or mental suffering on their v ictims, w hether it be to prisoners, slav es or serv ants,
w omen, children and/or adolescents, then they can and should be considered modalities of
TERROR, in that they are practices that, aside from causing pain, are characterized by their
ability to cause fright, fear, panic, and ex treme dread, due to their unpredictability, lack of
control, perversity and averseness.

In this same study, the authors captured the voice of a survivor of domestic
terror while being

an organized strategy of v iolences (phy sical, sex ual, psy chological, neglect) that are
cumulativ e, repetitiv e, and according to general human norms, that are unacceptable because
they are considered to be v iolations of the Rights of the Child and the Adolescent. The aim of
such v iolence is to maintain familial pow er central and despotic through terrify ing practices that
inv olv e torture, cruelty , unex pected and unusual punishments etc.

The above voice belongs to a young girl called Fabiana who was raped at the
age of 10 by her father and who then proceeded to suffer different kinds of violence –
sexual, physical and psychological – perpetrated by him and with the active
connivance of the mother. Two daughters were born from the above relationship,

36
Azevedo, M.A. & Guerra, V.N.A. (2001). Quando a violência doméstica contra crianças e adolescentes pode ser
considerada terror? (When can domestic violence against children be considered as terror?) [This study is being submitted
for publication in an international journal]
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one of whom is blind, deaf and dumb. Fabiana found the strength to denounce the
father to the police, when he tried to rape one of his granddaughter-daughters.
In her autobiography, Labirintos do Incesto, Fabiana relates how she became her
father’s prisoner and how she reacted to this terrible bondage. The severity of the
violence she suffered is evident in her written testimony:

(...)
i. The feeling of deppression:
When my daughter was two months old, I felt as if life had no more meaning. I
stopped caring for her, I no longer washed her (...). It was no use my father beating
me to get me out of bed: I was like the living-dead (...)
j . The feeling of indifference:
(...) I discovered that my father was lusting after my younger sister. I was so switched
off to life that I didn’t even bother about it (...). I let her work it out on her own.
k. The seduction of death:
I didn’t feel the need of having to live any more. Everything had become a vacuumto
me. I felt useless, each waking moment (...). One day, when I couldn’t stand the
suffering any longer, I decided to commit suicide (...)
l. Mobilizing the capacity to protect:
My father started trying to abuse my oldest daughter when she was 3 years old. So I
said to him: Even if it kills me, I won’t ever let you lay a finger on her. You did what you
did to us, because we didn’t have a mother to defend us and, while I have her, you will
never touch her.

SOURCE: ANDRADE, Fabiana Pereira (1999). Labirintos do incesto: o relato de uma


sobrevivente. 2ª ed. São Paulo: Escrituras/LACRI .

Extreme forms of violence, like that characteristics of DOMESTIC TERROR, are


frequent in cases of conjugal Domestic Violence under the guise of intimidation
(threatening gestures, use of physical size to intimidate, driving recklessly...), threats
(of hurting or killing a victim or those the victim loves...) (The Body Shop, 1995).
They also appear to be universal, occurring, for instance, both in Brazil and in
Palestine. In a study mentioned previously, Khamis (2000) revealed that his subjects
often felt frightened or even terrorized by their parents.
Although the means and ways of TERRORIZING can vary according to whom it is
meant for, all of them have a common aim, according to Stevens (1999):

Instill in a person, a feeling of terror or ex treme fear; ov erpow er the person through
intimidation; place the person in a dangerous or inappropriate place or threaten to put the
person in such a place. Ex amples: to blaspheme, to force a child to w atch acts of v iolence
carried out on a family member or on a pet; threaten a person w ith abandonment, threaten to
brutalize or harm a person or a lov ed one; threaten to destroy the person’s personal
possessions; threaten to send the person aw ay or to institutionalize the person (...).

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Many of these practices were present in the tragic story of Hedda. This story
reveals how Psychological Violence can descend jointly upon mother and daughter
in a family submitted to the tyranny of an omnipotent and cruel father.

HEDDA’S STORY
Tuesday morning, November 3, 1987 the headlines
of a Newsday story tucked in the middle of the paper
read, “Girl, 6, Is Critically Injured. Parents Are Arrested, Charged.”
It was the day after Lisa Steinberg had been found
unconscious in a Greenwich Village apartment. “The
wife also appears to have been beaten,” Aaron
Rosenthal, Assistant Chief of the Manhattan Detective
Borough, told the press. Hedda Nussbaun had a
bandaged nose, puffy eyes, and bruises on her head
and body.
The accompanying photograph depicted her looking downward, her lips split like a boxer’s, her
nose broken, strands of wild gray hair escaping from a dirty bandanna. Next to her was a strong-
looking, full-chested, confident man: Joel Steinberg.
On the following day, front-page headlines read, “Sleeping Beauty-Six Years Old-Extremely
Critical, May Be Declared Brain Dead.” The third page carried an interview with a fifteen-year-old girl
named Amanda Willhelm, a neighbor, who said that until a year ago, Lisa had seemed like a cheery
and healthy girl. But in recent months, she had been seen with scrapes and black-and-blue marks, a
hunk of her hair hacked off, and a big bruise on her side. The teenager reported that Lisa had said that
her baby brother did these things. Amanda’s family suspected Lisa was being abused, but they said
nothing because they were afraid Steinberg might take it out on Lisa if they went to the authorities.
Amanda described Steinberg as “a big, great influential person...he just seemed very hard.” This
may have been the way that two unwed teenaged mothers saw Steinberg, the “adoption” lawyer,
when they handed over their babies to him – ostensibly for him to place in good homes. Instead,
Steinberg kept the babies and called them Lisa and Mitchell Steinberg.
Lisa’s natural mother, Michele Launders, had been an easy target for a forceful lawyer with no
scruples. Not only did Steinberg take her baby, but he also took a $500 fee to place her baby girl in a
“proper Christian home.” Steinberg was an expert at taking advantage of people’s weaknesses and
misfortunes.
While argument raged in the press about the case, many commentators overlooked that Hedda
Nussbaum, Steinberg’s companion, was obviously a battered woman.
Scheck pulled out an envelope with hospital pictures of Hedda taken on the night of November 3.
They looked like photographs of a war victim. On one leg she had an infected ulceration. Her ear was
swollen and misshapen. Her head appeared to have been punched in at the sides. Her skin was
scarred by cigarette burns. There was absolutely nothing human in her expression: no shame, no
embarrassment, no suffering. She was more dead than anything else.
Hedda told me that she had never seen Steinberg hit Lisa, and that, although he had battered
Hedda regularly, until the last year, he had shown great pride in Lisa. But the downward spiral in Lisa’s
relationship with Steinberg was swift. Lisa’s terror must have been paralyzing, because she knew the
violence he was capable of; she had spent years trying to distract the man she called Dad from
beating the woman she called Mom.
“One of the ways Joel would punish me,” Hedda said, “was to force me to lie in the bathtub filled
with freezing cold water. Joel made Lisa watch as he hit me and listen as he explained, ‘Daddy’s
helping Mommy.’ Sometimes he would ask Lisa if he should hit me. If Lisa would say no, he would
definitely hit me, explaining why I needed to be punished. So Lisa tried to say ‘yes’ once, thinking that
he would go the opposite way and not hit me. Of course, it didn’t matter. I still got hit.”
Hedda’s testimony was vital to Steinberg’s prosecution, yet many jurors and journalistsblamed her
for failing to save Lisa’s life. Some blamed her for the murder. In the end, the jury found Steinberg
guilty only of manslaughter.
Like so many batterers, Steinberg continues to deny any responsibility for his actions. On
December 5, 1990, when Newsday columnist Carole Agus asked Steinberg about hisrelationship with
Hedda, he maintained, “We didn’t have a violent relationship. In fact, there was no violence in our
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relationship at all.”
Today Hedda lives alone in a small secluded house, cut off from everyone she loved. Her financial
situation is precarious; often she turns to temporary secretarial agencies for work. She continues to
attend battered-women’s meetings.

SOURCE: F ERRATO, D. (1991). Living with de enemy. New York: Aperture Foundation.

Another true story such as the one above was made into a film, in Spanish, in
1993, called Una casa en las afueras (A House in the outskirts). A specialist in
Information Technology marries a young, single mother and takes her and her little
daughter to live in a sinister house in the middle of a desert. Gradually he stops his
wife from having any type of social contact, even with her own family. When she
decides to leave him, he cold-bloodedly kills her in front of the daughter. Using
various forms of intimidation, he forces the child to continually lie to cover up the
crime. Finally, without courage to kill her too, he forces her to leave. The film ends
with the child narrating all that she had suffered, including the death of her dog by
the stepfather, when it had discovered where the wife had been buried.
Our freshmen denounced a case with DOMESTIC TERROR, referring to it as
“PSYCHOLOGICAL TERRORISM”.
As an ACT of DPV, it was last in terms of PREVALENCE (67 accounts / Table 7).
Just over one third of these (32.8%) disclosed that it was the most frequent practice at
home.
The practice of TERROR pointed significantly to the FATHER who, on his own or
primarily, was responsible for 46.3% of registered cases. However, the mother’s
participation is also far from negligible (37.3%, either on her own or primarily),
especially if we consider that the joint action of the father and mother together was
responsible for 20% of the registered accounts. It is interesting to note that 13.4% of
the cases correspond to terrifying practices attributed to other people, whether a
family member or not.
Particularly significant is, that the most frequent starting age of this practice
was 3 to 6 years, with a duration of about 9.1 years. [Table 13]
This data appears to suggest that unfortunately, the notorious Culture of terror,
still reigns on planet Earth, as Galeano mentions, and it is imperative that it be
substituted with a true C ULTURE OF THE RIGHTS OF THE CHILD AND THE ADOLESCENT37.

37
Nevertheless, some progress is underway. As in the case of the just condemnation of a nanny for tortures forced on a child.
She was condemned on the basis of Law no. 9,455 of 04.07.1997 [Law of Torture]: The assumption is clearly torture... and
not maltreatment. In the case of maltreatment... the action initially is lawful: based on the assumption that the person abuses
the ways of educating, correcting and disciplining... in punishing a child... [the nanny] did not practice any act for educational
or corrective purposes, on the contrary, it was carried out through submission < intense physical and mental suffering of the
victim > [Juiz condena babá por torturar criança. Folha de S.Paulo, 05.15.2001, p. C6]
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E3
THE PSYCHOLOGICAL SIGNIFICANCE
OF

ACTS OF DOMESTIC PSYCHOLOGICAL VIOLENCE [DPV]

Probably the greatest of the narcissistic w ounds [is]


not having been loved ex actly as one w as.

MILLER, Alice (1986)

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Julian Trigo
Oil on canvas, 1998

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ACTS of DPV promote what some researchers have called INVALIDATING FAMILY
ENVIRONMENT. It is an environment in which − either because of the lack of responses
or of the repetition of negative responses – children or adolescents see their thoughts,
feelings and values permanently underestimated and their efforts toward self
fulfillment systematically neglected or undervalued.
In addition, these ACTS create a real cycle of violence which repeats itself and
gains strength over time. Rather than disappearing, it gets customarily worse and
perversely stronger.
Although they are not easily detectable, the ACTS of DPV usually:

a. take part in other modalities of Domestic Violence against Children and


Adolescents (sexual, physical, fatal violence or neglect ).
According to Stevens (1999):

(...) w hatev er the form that v iolence takes − neglect, phy sical v iolence, sex ual or financial
ex ploitation − there are consequences on the psy chological plane. In other w ords, all acts of
v iolence contain elements of psy chological v iolence.

b. cumulatively associate with each other, thus increasing its toxic effect on the
victims.

According to Table 14, we can see that all ACTS were observed together with
one, two, three or four of the other ACTS.
REJECTION was observed in 14 combinations; HUMILIATION, INDIFFERENCE and
ISOLATION, in 13; and TERROR in 12.

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T ABLE 14
Distribution of subjects according to combinations of A CTS of DPV.
Freshmen U SP/2000 − São Paulo Campus

Combinations N %
1 - rejection 27 8.4
2 - humiliation 42 13.1
3 - rejection, humiliation 15 4.7
4 - isolation 45 14.1
5 - isolation, rejection 5 1.6
6 - isolation, humiliation 10 3.1
7 - isolation, rejection, humiliation 2 0.6
8 - indifference 53 16.6
9 - indifference, rejection 9 2.8
10 - indifference, humiliation 14 4.4
11 - indifference, rejection, humiliation 4 1.3
12 - indifference, isolation 16 5.0
13 - indifference, isolation, rejection 4 1.3
14 - indifference, isolation, humiliation 3 0.9
15 - indifference, isolation, humiliation, rejection 4 1.3
16 - terror 25 7.8
17 - terror, rejection 2 0.6
18 - terror, humiliation 7 2.2
19 - terror, humiliation, rejection 3 0.9
20 - terror, isolation 3 0.9
21 - terror, isolation, rejection 2 0.6
22 - terror, isolation, humiliation, rejection 3 0.9
23 - terror, indifference 5 1.6
24 - terror, indifference, humiliation 2 0.6
25 - terror, indifference, humiliation, rejection 6 1.9
26 - terror, indifference, isolation 2 0.6
27 - terror, indifference, isolation, rejection 1 0.3
28 - terror, indifference, isolation, humiliation, rejection 6 1.9
TOTAL* 320 100

* Number of subjects in the sub-sample of respondents that indicated at least one of the ACTS of DPV.

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T ABLE 15
Duration of the combined A CTS of DPV.
Freshmen U SP/2000 − São Paulo Campus

Combined ACTS of DPV Duration


Average (year s) N STD. Deviati on
21 - terror, isolation, rejection 14.0 1
25 - terror, indifference, humiliation, rejection 12.0 1
18 - terror, humiliation 10.2 5 5.5
10 - indifference, humiliation 9.0 7 5.8
15- indifference, isolation, humiliation, rejection 9.0 1
16 - terror 9.0 16 5.6
3 - rejection, humiliation 8.8 6 6.8
6 - isolation, humiliation 8.5 8 5.3
23 - terror, indifference 8.0 3 5.0
4 - isolation 7.0 27 5.2
13 - indifference, isolation, rejection 7.0 3 2.0
12 - indifference, isolation 6.7 7 6.2
20 - terror, isolation 6.7 3 2.3
2 - humiliation 6.5 24 4.5
1- rejection 6.0 16 5.0
22 - terror, isolation, humiliation, rejection 6.0 2 1.4
8 - indifference 5.4 28 3.9
9 - indifference, rejection 4.8 6 2.6
24 - terror, indifference, humiliation 4.5 2 6.4
14 - indifference, isolation, humiliation 4.0 2 4.2
19 - terror, humiliation, rejection 4.0 1
26 - terror, indifference, isolation 4.0 1
28- terror, indifference, isolation, humiliation, rejection 4.0 1
11 - indifference, rejection, humiliation 3.0 1
5 - isolation, rejection 1.5 2 2.1
TOTAL 6.9 174 4.9
Note: Number of cases with complete information: 174 out of 320.

Among the subjects who had suffered ACTS OF DPV, 66 (20.7%) indicated
REJECTION combined with another form of maltreatment, while 42 (13.0%) did the
same with TERROR.
Table 15 shows that, on average, the combinations which lasted longest were
precisely those involving TERROR, REJECTION and HUMILIATION (10 to 14 years of
duration).
If TERROR is the practice of torture and, as such, produces physical and
emotional pain, and if REJECTION and HUMILIATION are means to produce the so-
called “narcissistic wound”38, then we can easily imagine the devastating
consequences that the combination of these ACTS have, over a 10- year- period, on the

38
Narcissistic wound is the result of an attack on the narcissistic equilibrium of a person.
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self formation of the victims and, therefore, on the development of their sense of
identity (independent, confident, responsible).
The following is Stevens’s statement (1999) regarding the consequences of DPV.

Psy chological v iolence can undermine the v ictim’s self-esteem.


In children, Psy chological Violence can damage the child’s psy chological dev elopment, that
is, the dev elopment of intelligence, of memory , of recognition, of perception, of attention, of the
imagination and of sense of morality .
It can also harm the social dev elopment of the child and compromise the child’s ability to
perceiv e, feel, understand and ex press emotions.

Iwaniec (1995) reinforces it by naming the main consequences of parental


psychological violence:

Which damages a child’s self-esteem, degrades a sense of achiev ement, diminishes a


sense of belonging, and stands in the w ay of healthy , v igorous, and happy dev elopment.

The conclusion reached is that although our freshman had, in general, been
exposed to less serious ACTS OF DPV, in a few cases, some of them were exposed, for
long periods, to combined modalities of DPV, and therefore to more perverse
scenarios of VIOLENCE.
This partially explains the fact that − despite the repetitive and cumulative
presence of ACTS OF DPV − only 95 among the 320 subjects (29.6%) considered the
quality of their family life to be unsatisfactory, as shown in Table 16.

TA BLE 16
Acts of DPV and the subject’s opinion of the quality of their family life.
Freshmen U SP/2000 − São Paulo Campus
FAMI LY LIFE AT HOME
Total* (NT
Blan k / Cancelled (N = Satisf actory (N = Unsatisfactory (N = = 320) [100%]
12) [3,9%] 213) [ 66,5%] 95) [29,6%]

Rejection 2 56 35 93

16.7% 26.3% 36.8% 29.1%


Humiliation 4 76 41 121

33.3% 35.7% 43.2% 37.8%


Isolation 5 74 27 106

41.7% 34.7% 28.4% 33.1%


Indifference 3 75 51 129

25.0% 35.2% 53.7% 40.3%


Terror 3 38 26 67

25.0% 17.8% 27.4% 20.9%


* Number of subjects in the sub-sample of respondents who indicated at least one of the ACTS of DPV.

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Based on the answers given by these 95 subjects, we may infer that


INDIFFERENCE, followed by HUMILIATION and REJECTION were the most significant
ACTS of DPV. Paradoxically, TERROR was the least significant: among 67 subjects, 38
(56.7%) considered their quality of life SATISFACTORY, whereas 26 (38.8%) considered
it UNSATISFACTORY. A possible explanation for the alleged SATISFACTORINESS − despite
the ACTS OF DPV − is that it may be either the result of defense mechanisms or a
consequence of the extremely low level of awareness in the subjects, caused by the
indifference, banality, standardization and conformism toward VIOLENCE in the
Brazilian society.

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E4
DEVELOPING
DOMESTIC PSYCHOLOGICAL VIOLENCE
[DPV]

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Julian Trigo
Oil on canvas, 1998

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In light of the framework we have adopted, understanding the (re)production


of DPV can only be achieved based on the socio-psychological interactionist model,
according to which the conditioning factors are socio-economic, political and
cultural, and refracted in the everyday family life through the parents’ awareness
when interacting with their children.
In our study, in virtue of its exploratory nature, we analyzed the influence of
the socio-economic status of the parents involved (represented in terms of their
occupation and schooling) and the subjects’ gender.
The x2 test − applied to the data in the following tables − revealed remarkable
differences between the subjects who recorded or did not record the Prevalence of
one or more ACTS OF DPV, according to the indicated values.
Therefore, regarding the father and the mother, the Prevalence of one or more
ACTS of DPV was considerably lower when they held more prestigious OCCUPATIONS
(Level 1 / Scientific, technical and artistic jobs and the like) and when they had
university degrees.
As for social relationships regarding gender, the PREVALENCE was remarkably
higher in relation to the male gender.

Numerous studies hav e linked child abuse and neglect w ith certain parental and family
characteristics and behav iour. Among them are: poor marital relationships, social isolation,
impulsiv e personalities, ill-health, pov erty , chaotic life-sty le, psy chiatric problems, poor social
and problem-solv ing skills, difficulties in social communication, neglectful and abusiv e
backgrounds of parents, and lack of know ledge of children’s age-appropriate needs, as well as
alcohol-, drug-, and substance-abuse [Crittenden & Ainsw orth, 1989; Zurav in, 1988; Polansky,
1992; Egeland, 1987; Johnson, 1990; Oates, 1982]. (Iwaniec, 1995)

Khamis (2000) adds family configuration (one or two-parent family) to the list.
The most plausible explanation for the relationships revealed by our data may
be in the five socio-cultural factors proposed by Dubanoski, Evans & Higuchi (1978): lack
of knowledge about normal developmental processes; punitive disciplinary methods; impulsive aggression; high
stress-levels; and negative attitudes towards the child.
The direction and nature of the relationships we identified indicate a special
childhood culture in a society where entering college (particularly USP) is still
viewed as a means of climbing the social ladder and of escaping stressful conditions
of life.
One of our freshmen said he had experienced lack of attention at home as a
result of the current opinion that children are ignorant and have nothing to teach
adults. An opinion that reflects a typically adult-centered culture which underestimates
childhood that, for this reason, must be subdued and strictly controlled.
The extent to which the parents’ beliefs, attitudes and values − infused by the
narcissistic culture of a competitive society − may have influenced parenting
involving ACTS of DPV, is a research that has not yet be carried out, but which is
nonetheless important because the conditioning factors of neglect and abuse are complex and varied
and will differ from one family to another and from one society to another (Iwaniec , 1995).
101
Voices of Youth

T ABLE 17 A
Father’s occupation and prevalence of Acts of DPV.
Freshmen U SP/2000 − São Paulo Campus

Was at least one of the fi ve ACTS of DPV


Father's Occupation* indicated? Total
NO YES

Wor kers i n sci entific, techni cal and ar tistic professions and n 235 76 311
the l ike
27.6% 23. 8% 26.5%
%

Members of the Legislati ve, Executive and Judici al branches


n 108 27 135
of government; high ranking publi c servants, company
directors and the like 12.7% 8. 4% 11.5%
%

n 92 36 128
Office workers and the like
% 10.8% 11. 3% 10.9%

n 93 30 123
Wor kers i n commerce and the like
% 10.9% 9. 4% 10.5%

Wor kers i n Tourism, hospitali ty services, cleaning services, n 10 4 14


hygi ene and beauty services, security services and the like
1.2% 1. 3% 1.2%
%

n 11 5 16
Wor kers i n farming, forestry, fi shing and the li ke
1.3% 1. 6% 1.4%
%

Industrial production workers, machine oper ators, dr ivers and n 35 28 63


the l ike
4.1% 8. 8% 5.4%
%

n 40 15 55
Wor kers whose occupati ons are unecl assified
% 4.7% 4. 7% 4.7%

n 43 22 65
Unempl oyed
% 5.0% 6. 9% 5.5%

n 73 42 115
Retired
% 8.6% 13. 1% 9.8%

n 112 35 147
No infor mation
% 13.1% 10. 9% 12.5%

n 852 320 1172


Total
% 100.0% 100.0% 100.0%
Sign. test: P = 0.001

(*) SOURCE: The occupational categories were taken from the Classificação Brasileira de Ocupações.
Brasília: Sistema Nacional de Emprego, 1982 [except for categories Unemployed/Retired, which
we have added].

102
Voices of Youth

T ABLE 17 B
Father’s schooling and Prevalence of Acts of DPV.
Freshmen U SP/2000 − São Paulo Campus

Was at least one of he five ACTS of DPV indi cated?


Father's Schooling Total
NO YES
NONE / LITERATE n 30 27 57
% 3.5% 8.4% 4.9%
NONE / ILLITERATE n 5 8 13
% 0.6% 2.5% 1.1%
OTHERS COURSES n 31 8 39
% 3.6% 2.5% 3.3%
PRIMARY SCHOOL n 72 41 113
% 8.5% 12.8% 9.6%
SECONDARY SCHOOL n 182 67 249
% 21.4% 20.9% 21.2%
UNIVERSITY n 520 163 683
% 61.0% 50.9% 58.3%
No answer n 12 6 18
% 1.4% 1.9% 1.5%
TOTAL n 852 320 1172
% 100.0% 100.0% 100.0%
Sign. teste: P = 0.000

103
Voices of Youth

T ABLE 18 A
Mother’s occupation and Prevalence of Acts of DPV.
Freshmen U SP/2000 − São Paulo Campus

Was at least one of the five ACTS of DPV


Mother's Occupation* indi cated? Total
NO YES

Workers i n sci entific, techni cal and artistics n 222 64 286


professions and the like
% 26.1% 20.0% 24.4%

Members of the Legislati ve, Executi ve and


n 53 7 60
Judi cial branches of gover nment; high ranking
public servants, company di rectors and the like 6.2% 2.2% 5.1%
%

n 73 33 106
Office workers and the like
8.6% 10.3% 9.0%
%
n 18 3 21
Workers i n commerce and the li ke
% 2.1% 0.9% 1.8%

Workers i n Tourism, hospitall y services, cleaning


n 11 14 25
ser vices, hygiene and beauty services, security
ser vices and the like 1.3% 4.4% 2.1%
%

n 1 2 3
Workers i n farming, forestry, fishi ng and the l ike
% 0.1% 0.6% 0.3%

Industrial production workers, machine operators, n 2 2 4


drivers and the li ke
0.2% 0.6% 0.3%
%

n 232 89 321
Workers whose occupati ons are uncl assifi ed
% 27.2% 27.8% 27.4%

n 109 48 157
Unempl oyed
% 12.8% 15.0% 13.4%
n 46 23 69
Retired
% 5.4% 7.2% 5.9%
n 85 35 120
No infor mation
% 10.0% 10.9% 10.2%
n 852 320 1172
Total
% 100. 0% 100.0% 100.0%
Sign. teste: P= 0.001

(*) SOURCE: The occupational categories were taken from the Classificação Brasileira de Ocupações.
Brasília: Sistema Nacional de Emprego, 1982 [except for categories Unemployed/Retired, which
we have added].

104
Voices of Youth

T ABLE 18 B
Mother’s schooling and the Prevalence of Acts of DPV.
Freshmen U SP/2000 − São Paulo Campus

Was at least one of the five ACTS of DPV


Mother's Schooling indicated? Total
NO YES
NONE / LITERATE n 31 29 60
% 3. 6% 9.1% 5.1%
NONE / ILLI TERATE n 5 4 9
% 0. 6% 1.3% 0.8%
OTHER COURSES n 24 7 31
% 2. 8% 2.2% 2.6%
PRIMARY SCHOOL n 98 52 150
% 11.5% 16.3% 12.8%
SECONDARY SCHOOL n 230 79 309
% 27.0% 24.7% 26.4%
UNIVERSI TY n 459 144 603
% 53.9% 45.0% 51.5%
No answer n 5 5 10
% 0. 6% 1.6% 0.9%
Total n 852 320 1172
% 100. 0% 100.0% 100.0%
Sign teste: P = 0.001

T ABLE 19
Subject’s gender and Prevalence of Acts of DPV.
Freshmen U SP/2000 − São Paulo Campus

Was at least one among the five ACTS of DPV indicated?


Subject's Gender Total
NO YES

MALE n 388 170 558


% 47.5% 55.2% 49.6%
FEMALE n 429 138 567
% 52.5% 44.8% 50.4%
Total n 817 308 1125
% 100.0% 100.0% 100. 0%
Sign. teste: P=0.02
Obs.: Answers:
blank n 47
null % 4,0

105
Voices of Youth

E5
THE ACTS OF DPV
SILENCED

106
Voices of Youth

107
Voices of Youth

The list of the five ACTS is far from exhausting all the possibilities of DPV.
Taking into account that this survey was carried out on college freshmen, we
intentionally excluded the following category that is frequently referred to in
literature:

CORRUPT or exploit a person − lead a person to accept ideas or behav iors that are
prohibited by law , materially or financially ex ploit a person, teach a child to serv e the best
interests of those w ho abuse the child rather than defending its ow n interests. Ex amples:
sex ually ex ploit a child, allow the child to consume alcohol or drugs, train the child for the sex
trade. (Stevens, 1999)

No matter how unbelievable it may seem, these acts occur and continue to
occur, especially in the area of pornography and childhood prostitution. If, in the
plane of fantastic realism, we read the incredibly sad story of Candida Erendira and
her ruthless grandmother39, then on the real plane we have the equally sad story of
Mary Bell, who at the age of 11, killed two boys in the 60s (XX Century). The author,
G. Sereny, interviewed the young girl and in the book she wrote, she relates the story
of the murder and Mary Bell’s subsequent imprisonment for the crime. Furthermore,
she tells us of the relationship between Mary Bell and her mother who allowed her
daughter to fall out of windows, ingest strong medicine thinking it was candy and to
be molested by the mother’s male companions, all of which occurred when Mary Bell
was very young.
The following excerpts illustrate the perverse violence suffered by the girl since
the time of her birth.
I told her that her aunt Cath and her grandmother couldn’t understand
w hy the first thing Betty had Said w hen they tried to put the baby in her arms
w as: Take t he t hing away from me. Cath said you w ere the bonniest baby...

M y mother w ould hold me, one hand pulling my head back, by my hair,
the other holding my arms back of me, my neck back like, and… and…
they’d put their penis in my mouth and w hen… w hen, you know , they…
ejaculated, I’d vomit. (Sereny, 1999)

39
Marquez, G.G. (1992). A incrível e triste história da Cândida Erendira e sua avó desalmada. Rio de Janeiro: Record. The
novel tells the story of a grandmother who prostitutes her granddaughter as a way of making her pay for the damage caused
by breaking a candlestick.
My poor darling − hissed the grandmother. − You won’t have enough life to pay for this damage!. This is the fatal sentence
that sealed Erendira’s fate.
108
Voices of Youth

CONCLUSIONS:
WHAT THE
VOICES OF YOUTH
HAVE TOLD US

109
Voices of Youth

Julian Trigo
Oil on canvas, 1998

110
Voices of Youth

The present study was based on a group of USP freshmen who enrolled in 2000.
The VOICES OF THE YOUTHS surveyed, revealed the presence of DOMESTIC VIOLENCE, of
Psychological nature, during childhood and adolescence.
A presence that was, to a certain point, unexpected, considering the profile of
the USP freshmen – these being the outcome of a competitive selective marathon40.
A presence which is paradoxical, to a certain extent, because it is:

a. discreet yet ex tensiv e .


Discreet because the registered prevalence was less than one third of the
freshmen sample (27.3%). Nevertheless, according to estimates it can affect a total of
10,571 USP undergraduates41, making it far from negligible and, therefore extensive.

b. occult yet present.


Occult because it is camouflaged by ACTS which the majority of subjects have
not yet learnt to identify as VIOLENCE.
Present because the five ACTS defining the constructo DOMESTIC VIOLENCE of
Psychological nature, were consistently present in the majority of courses surveyed.

c. compromising and non- compromising.


The ACTS of DPV were considered to be non-compromising because the
majority of the subjects (66.5%) who were researched felt that the quality of family
life had not been compromised, while 29.6% of them felt it to be unsatisfactory.
An explanation for this seemingly contradictory profile can be found, on one
hand, in the poor visibility of Domestic Psychological Violence, whether as the object
of a survey, or as a social problem, blocking the victim’s awareness and the victim’s
own subjective constitution. On the other hand, it should be investigated in the
particular social-cultural climate characteristic of post-modernity and in the results of
down-playing this violence in social practices of parenting.
In the historical-critical approach that we adopted, we can agree with Ratner
(1995) that

parents’ insensibility and disdain has a concrete social character. According to the basic
principles of socio-historical psy chology , parents are insensitiv e, unhelpful, communicate
poorly , are incomprehensiv e, and behav e unsuitably in certain w ay s and circumstances, for
reasons that originate in specific social v alues and practices. It is precisely for hav ing these
v alues that those responsible maltreat their children. While parents believ e in these practices
and follow them, they w ill be maltreating their children, ev en if their best intentions are to the
contrary .
The reason w hy some parents, more than others, carry out these destructiv e behaviors is,
undoubtedly , due to their ow n complex personal ex periences. How ev er, the main importance
and the dissemination of these practices throughout society makes them not only increasingly

40
The profile is mainly represented by young people of both sexes, who are Caucasian, single, do not work, and come from
families whose parents are owners/employees and/or professionals. They competed with 130,466 candidates, for 7,115
vacancies in USP . [Cf. FUVEST − Relatório 2000. São Paulo: Fundação Universitária para o Vestibular, 2000].
41
27.3% of 39,155 (students registered in the 1st semester of USP undergraduates, in 1999 − Populational projection).
111
Voices of Youth

more accessible and respectable as normativ e models, but also, their increasing admission
into the family becomes inev itable. The pathogenic behav ior of parents is not just a personal or
family w eakness. One should not try to identify it horizontally , solely in prev ious generations of
the indiv idual’s family , but also v ertically , in other lev els of society . Clarify ing it in regard to
society at large, w hich is reflected by the parents, prov ides a social basis for the parent’s
behav ior that is omitted by other less comprehensiv e social analy ses. This omission leaves the
parents’ behav ior unex plained and giv es w ay to random ex planations, personal and biological
(...). Other social ex planations that focus on pov erty and unemploy ment as important factors
that help ex plain this behav ior, do not make reference to its causes rooted in the middle and
high social classes. (…)
Social practices are a w ay of instigating a w ide v ariety of abuse by parents. No ex acting
connection ex ists betw een a giv en maltreatment of children by parents and a single social
v alue or practice. Each social practice has v ariable and w ide-ranging effects in the same way
that each maltreatment has innumerable social foundations. Competition can lead to neglecting
children, to humiliating and treating them sev erely . Inv ersely , the parent’s insensibility can
come from being egoistical, materialistic and competitiv e. Social influences prov ide a context
that indiv iduals fall back on to build their ow n life sty les. Parents find new w ay s of creativ ely
combining destructiv e social practices and concretizing them in new w ay s. However, if we take
the trouble to look, w e w ill find that the social character that permeates these embodiments, is
unquestionable...
In this manner, for ex ample, a mother w ho totally confuses her child by constantly changing
his meal times, is a reflection of the impulsiv eness and egocentricity that are the mainstay of
the contemporary American socio-economic sy stem. The ex cessiv e harshness of a father with
his son, w hich results in phy sical pain and emotional coldness, reflects a w idespread male
norm (...).

According to Henry (1963), socio-cultural factors of the macro-system (socio-


economic and political) clearly influence the social values and practices of parents,
and these, in turn, on abusive parental behavior on children.

MACROSYSTEM
Ð
Social Values and Practices of the Parents

competitive egoistical impulsive materialistic superficial harsh


Ð Ð
Pathogenic Behavior of the Parents
humiliates the insensitive Ignores, Separation with unaware harsh
child disdains no affection
F IGURE XX: Underlying societal practices and values in abusive family interactions. [Henry, J. (1963)]

The resulting bad feeling, that a minor group of students pointed out, could be
rooted in the fact that Psychological Violence is still highly invisible among us and,
therefore, a violence without a face or a name. That is why it is the ideal violence of
being camouflaged by parental practices that are widespread, accepted and
legitimated as family pedagogical models in a society where the family continues to
be far from democratic.
In all probability, even having been subjected to the survey, our subjects would
not be able to say which children and adolescents we are talking about when we
outline the following profile:
112
Voices of Youth

(1) not included in the family circle;


(2) ignored, or not taken notice of;
(3) not allow ed to play an activ e part in family activ ities and decision-making;
(4) seldom spoken to in an easy w ay ;
(5) persistently depriv ed of priv ileges and treats;
(6) frequently punished for minor misbehav ior;
(7) persistently ridiculed and criticized;
(8) nev er praised;
(9) not acknow ledged or reinforced in any good behav ior or positiv e action;
(10) frequently shamed and put dow n in front of peers, siblings and other people;
(11) not noticed or disregarded in any attempts to please care-giv ers;
(12) ignored and discouraged w hen attempting to attract attention or affection;
(13) not allow ed to mix w ith friends;
(14) socially isolated;
(15) told that it is disliked or unlov ed (or both);
(16) blamed w hen things go w rong in the family ;
(17) not in receipt of proper superv ision and guidance;
(18) corrupted by the care-giv ers by means of drugs, prostitution, stealing etc.;
(19) encouraged in inappropriate prejudices such as religious, racial, cultural or other hatreds
(attitudinal corruption);
(20) not allow ed to get phy sically close to care-giv ers;
(21) not permitted to show emotion. (Iwaniec, 1995)

Apart from this, as shown in the table following, these are people who,
although not fully aware of the VIOLENCE suffered at home, idealize the education of
children and adolescents with the antidotes of Violence: RESPECT, DIALOGUE,
AFFECTION, FREEDOM, DEMOCRACY 42 (...)43.

42
The only exception refers to the subject that endorses dialogue with the infliction of corporal punishment.
43
Some studies on youth culture show that there is a definite return to valuing the family as an institution. If in the past, young
people viewed the family as a conservative barrier that needed to be ruptured, then, nowadays, they are seeking to give it
renewed value. A group of three studies available in the Loducca Center of Information, carried out on a group of 500
American and Brazilian youths, showed that 77% of them considered a good parent-child relationship to be important. When
asked who they most admired - first the mothers, then the fathers had the highest ratings. [Roldão Arruda, A cabeça dos
nossos jovens. O Estado de S.Paulo, 06.10.2001]
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Voices of Youth

T ABLE 20
How children and adolescents should be educated in the family.
Freshmen U SP/2000 − São Paulo Campus

Forms of Education Nº of responses %

Respectful of the rights of the child/adolescent 7 13.8

Respectful the rights of the child/adolescent, but within limits 6 11.8

Emphasizing: dialogue, attention, affection, patience, friendship, dedication, 25 49.0


encouragement

Providing security so as to be able to face future difficulties 2 4.0

Proffering responsibilities but free of pressure 1 1.9

Liberationist 1 1.9

Democratic, but respecting the differences in power within a family 1 1.9

Molded on good examples set by the parents 1 1.9

Committed as to the need of accompanying corporal punishment (smacks with 1 1.9


hand/slipper) with dialogue

Free of physical and psychological violence 1 1.9

Blank 4 7.9

Unable to answer 1 1.9

TOTAL 51 100.0

Obs.: 39 individual statements taken from systematic sampling were analysed. The total of 51 is ex plained by the fact that a subject
could have been categorized more than once.

The final message of the VOICES OF YOUTH is that the CULTURE OF Domestic
TERROR could have its days numbered...

114
Voices of Youth

VI

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VII

A PPENDIX

INSTRUMENT

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USP − UNIVERSITY OF SÃO PAULO


IP − INSTITUTE OF PSYCHOLOGY
LACRI − C HILD STUDIES LABORATORY

RESEARCH − VOICES OF YOUTH

PART I − Subject Identification

Degree Course: _______________________________________ Year enrolled: _____


Period: Morning Afternoon Night Full-time
Sex: Male Female
Age: __________

FATHER
Last completed course:
No completed course / illiterate Secondary School
No completed course / literate University Which? ___________
Primary Course Others Which? ___________
Occupation: __________________________________________________________
Employed Unemployed
Salary: _____________________________

MOTHER
Last completed course:
No completed course / illiterate Secondary School
No completed course / literate University Which? ___________
Primary School Others Which? ___________
Occupation: __________________________________________________________
Employed Unemployed
Salary: _____________________________

Number of people living in your house (including you):


From 0 to 18 years old _____________
Older than 19 years _____________

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PART II − Questionnaire
1 . There are different w ay s of handing children and adolescents at home.
Indicate those that y ou experienced at home w hen y ou w ere betw een 0 and 18 y ears old (y our
childhood/y our adolescence)
Instr uctions: Read carefully and indicate the alternativ e that corresponds best to y our life story .
a. Rejection [ignoring me, show ing that I w as less w orthy than others...] ..................................
b. H umiliation [ridiculing me, insulting me...] ..........................................................................
c. Isolation [locking me in a room, not allow ing me to hav e friends, to date...] ...........................
d. Indifference [deny ing me affection and attention...] .............................................................
e. Terror [threatening me w ith abandonment, sev ere punishments, death, instilling extreme fear...]
f. O ther. Which? _______________________________________________________________________

2 . Reread question 1 and now indicate w ith w as the most frequent alternativ e in y our life story .
a. b. c. d. e. f.

3 . C onsider only y our answ er to question 2 and indicate:


3 .a Who did this to me?
a. O nly my father ......................................................................................................
b. P rimarily my father and occasionally my mother .........................................................
c. Both .....................................................................................................................
d. P rimarily my mother and occasionally my father .........................................................
e. O nly my mother ....................................................................................................
f. A nother person. Who? ____________________________________________________________

3 .b F rom w hat age to w hat age did this happen to y ou?


from to from to from to
Less than 1 y ear 7 y ears 14 y ears
1 y ear 8 y ears 15 y ears

2 y ears 9 y ears 16 y ears

3 y ears 10 y ears 17 y ears

4 y ears 11 y ears 18 y ears

5 y ears 12 y ears O v er 19 y ears

6 y ears 13 y ears I do not recall

4 . In one w ord, how w ould y ou describe y our family life?


______________________________________________________________________________________

5 . In y our opinion, how should children and adolescents be educated w ithin the family ?
______________________________________________________________________________________
______________________________________________________________________________________
______________________________________________________________________________________

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INDEX OF TABLES
Page

TABLE 1
Incidence of Domestic Violence in Childhood/Adolescence − Spain ....................................................... 47
TABLE 2
Census of recent international scientific articles on Domestic Psychological Violence directed at
children and adolescents (1990-1995) ........................................................................................... 48
TABLE 3
Domestic Violence against Children and Adolescents [DVCA] reported in Brazil − Peru ............................ 49
TABLE 4
Comparison between the number of subjects of the sample and the USP/2000 freshmen population,
according to the school unit, course and period frequented − São Paulo Campus ................................... 53
TABLE 5
Distribution per gender, according to the school unit of the subjects.
Freshmen USP/2000 − São Paulo Campus ........................................................................................ 54
TABLE 6
Age distribution, according to the school unit of the subjects. Freshmen USP/2000 − São Paulo Campus ...... 55
TABLE 7
Acts of Domestic Psychological Violence [DPV]: Prevalence, Frequency, Perpretation.
Freshmen USP/2000 − São Paulo Campus ........................................................................................ 57
TABLE 8
Alternatives of Familial Treatment. Freshmen USP/2000 − São Paulo Campus ......................................... 59
TABLE 9
Prevalence of Acts of DPV, according to the school unit. Freshmen USP/2000 − São Paulo Campus ............. 60
TABLE 10
Prevalence of Acts of DPV, according to gender of the subjects. Freshmen USP/2000 − São Paulo Campus .. 61
TABLE 11
Prevalence of Acts of DPV, according to the age group of the subjects.
Freshmen USP/2000 − São Paulo Campus ........................................................................................ 61
TABLE 12
Prevalence of Acts of DPV, according to the schooling of the subject’s mother and father.
Freshmen USP/2000 − São Paulo Campus ........................................................................................ 62

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CONT.

Page

TABLE 13
ACTS of DPV: Starting age and duration. Freshmen USP/2000 − São Paulo Campus ................................... 64

TABLE 14
Distribution of subjects according to combinations of ACTS of DPV.
Freshmen USP/2000 − São Paulo Campus ........................................................................................ 95

TABLE 15
Duration of the combined ACTS of DPV. Freshmen USP/2000 − São Paulo Campus ..................................... 96

TABLE 16
ACTS of DPV and subject’s opinion of the quality of their family life.
Freshmen USP/2000 − São Paulo Campus ........................................................................................ 97

TABLE 17 A
Father’s occupation and prevalence of ACTS of DPV. Freshmen USP/2000 − São Paulo Campus .................. 102

TABLE 17 B
Father’s schooling and prevalence of ACTS of DPV. Freshmen USP/2000 − São Paulo Campus .................... 103

TABLE 18 A
Mother’s occupation and prevalence of ACTS of DPV. Freshmen USP/2000 − São Paulo Campus .................. 104

TABLE 18 B
Mother’s schooling and prevalence of ACTS of DPV. Freshmen USP/2000 − São Paulo Campus .................... 105

TABLE 19
Subject’s gender and prevalence of ACTS of DPV. Freshmen USP/2000 − São Paulo Campus ....................... 105

TABLE 20
How children and adolescents should be educated in the family.
Freshmen USP/2000 − São Paulo Campus ........................................................................................ 114

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INDEX OF CHARTS

Page

C HART 1
Map of the major conceptions of Domestic Psychological Violence [DPV] (1976-2001 ) ....................... 29/30

C HART 2

Map of the main explanatory models of Domestic Violence against Children and Adolescents (1980-2000) .. 38

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INDEX OF FIGURES

Page

F IGURE 1
Structure of LACRI’s Pluriannual Research Program − LACRI (2000-2005) .............................................. 06

F IGURE 2

Domestic Psychological Violence against Children and Adolescents: Socio-Psycho-Interactionist Model ..... 44

132