To be free from emotional manipulation requires care, attention and simple daily actions.
A help, for people who suffered violence even though only psychological, could be the support of anti-violence, or women’s, centers, which you can choose from those that you like the most and consider the most effective for your case and for your personality.
Today, we are going to know the anti-violence, or women’s, center of Clara.
Clara Pappalardo has a university degree in literary subjects and has been a teacher in junior high school from 1967 to 2006. She has been a member of the Provincial Board of Directors of CGIL (an Italian labor union) School from 1986 to 1995 and has held the role of the Head of the Western Zone of Naples (Italy) and of its province for CGIL School. She has been the President of the Association “Arcidonna Napoli” from 1995 to January 2016. Currently, she is the vice president. Till to-day, she has been holding the position of Director and Coordinator of the Anti-Violence Center of the City of Naples since 1997, the year of its establishment. She is an expert in training and planning, she edited popular publications on gender violence.
Question: “How, when and why have you become fond of this subject?”.
Answer: “First of all, I can not consider it a subject because gender violence, being founded on the unequal distribution of power between men and women, not only weaves the history of our relations but the personal and social daily life of each of us. Therefore, it is an inherent interest in being a woman, although the awareness of the causes and of the need for change occurs and matures in various stages of life, which sometimes are also discontinuous. For me, the awareness was born in the 70s at the time of the feminist movement and of self-consciousness, but has developed and turned in the willingness to act in a targeted and specific way in the 90s, when I became a member of Arcidonna, which, since a long time, had been promoting awareness campaigns in schools and in vain had been trying to speak with the local authorities in order to open a shelter house for abused women also in Naples. In 1997, various associations that dealt with anti-violence in Naples decided to downsize their sacrosanct demands and submitted a project aimed at creating an Anti-Violence Advice Center at the Women’s Center of the City of Naples. The project was approved and funded for nine months and was entrusted to Arcidonna as the leader. In the following years, from 1999 up to now, the Centre has been kept alive thanks to the free and voluntary work of various operators and practitioners, who have placed their experience and expertise to the disposal of the other women, allowing a continuity of operations that the funding by fits and starts of the Municipality would never have assured. In the meanwhile, in 2011, finally they opened the first Shelter House for abused women of the City of Naples, “Fiorinda House”, which allowed the women of Naples to have an opportunity to get away from the place of the violence and to stay in a protected space, where they could find the time and the resources needed to rebalance and to re-plan themselves”.
Question: “What is the main help provided by an anti-violence center?”.
Answer: “An anti-violence center managed by female associations offers a place to women subjected to violence, where they are listened to and accepted in an empathetic and supportive manner by other women free from prejudice and non-judgmental; a place where they are accompanied by experienced people to gradually make clarity within themselves and to make the decisions, which each woman considers as the most appropriate to safeguard herself and, often, to find herself again.
The woman takes her bearings with the help of the operator defining a customized plan, which can lead her to exit from the situation that afflicts her. The plan can include the psychological support, the legal advice and assistance, the career guidance, the activation of an inter-institutional network of services, ranging from social and health assistance to services relevant to safety measures, such as police and courts. However, in an anti-violence center, the woman never loses the centrality of the decision-making process: it is up to her to decide if and when to report, what are the services to be used and what are the strategies to be implemented in order to face the violence. This is essential, because the recovery of self-esteem can only happen if you leave space and awareness to self-determination”.
Question: “What simple suggestion could you provide us to be practiced every day?”.
Question: “What is your personal message for people who want to break free from manipulation (narcissistic abuse)?”.
Answer: “I am going to answer to these two questions all together, because the suggestion and the message are similar. In my opinion, a woman must never think in front of a violence, both psychological and physical, to have the responsibility of that violence. She must not think that it will be enough that she changes so that the violence ends, because it is not so. The origin of the violence is not inside her, but it is outside. She should only try to cope with it, if she can and feels up to do it, or to distance her from it. We must never forget that our dignity is inalienable and we must not allow anyone, not even the person who we love the most, not even a son, to trample it. At any price! It is the best way that we have, not only to feel good about ourselves, but also to induce the other individual to look within himself and to improve his relationship with the people around him and with life”.
I met Clara in the summer of 2013, when the anti-violence center was near Palazzo Donn’Anna in Posillipo, when a stranger more heavily tormented me with his daily unwanted irruptions in my life and after that the reports had only proved to be a needed bureaucratic step. There, I spent one of my most intense, most painful, but also most beautiful days. I met many volunteers, operators and expert practitioners, who were able to listen to, to understand, to explain, to clarify and to really help. There, in the waiting room, I met many women, many stories, much suffering and a single wish: to have their life back.
However, I invite you not to confuse violence with emotional manipulation (narcissistic abuse). Dynamics, motivations and effects are very different. In my case, for instance, they have been the harassing actions of a stranger to bring to light the family emotional manipulation. According to this document of the Police (only in Italian), what happens to me can be described as a sadistic behavior, in which the victim is the subject of an obsessive thought and is seen as a prey, she is considered an individual to be ruined because perceived as happy and fulfilled. In this context, usually, no plausible explanation exists in the perception of the victim about the reason why she has been taken aim at. The initial level of acquaintance is low, the kind of approach is initially benevolent, later on becoming increasingly persecutory. The systematic infiltration in the life of the prey aims at creating disconcertment and nervousness, and is implemented with very high emotional coldness. The persecutory behavior can be addressed to all the people close to the victim, in an attempt to isolate her. Sometimes, it is just the latter who moves away from family members or friends, to avoid exposing them to danger. Threats can be explicit or shifty. Damage to property of the victim can happen. These people can be very dangerous, especially for the psychological violence. Some behaviors have a sexual matrix and are mainly intended to humiliate the victim, to disgust her, and, in general, to undermine her self-esteem. This is a case to be taken into serious consideration, since the conduct of the stranger could not independently stop. It can be counterproductive to directly turn to the persecutor in order to induce him to cease the harassing behavior which, however, would be denied.
Despite these awful events, manipulators (narcissists), men and women, can act as nothing has happened, are insensitive and merciless and demand that attention is focused only on them.
Paola Morgese, PMP
Civil Hydraulic Engineer
M.S. Sanitary and Environmental Engineering
Translation of the Italian blog post: Paola Morgese, Il centro antiviolenza di Clara