Face to Face – Training for Youth Workers

Facing gender violence

From the 27th Novembre to the 1st of December 2017 took place the training course “Face to face: how to tackle gender violence” at Torre Pellice, where the Diaconia Valdese has its main office.

As the title of training says, our main goal wa/is develop altogether methodologies and strategies to tackle gender violence, those outputs we will used during the youth exchange that will take place next March, addressed to youngsters between 15-17 y.o.

Italy, Spain, Estonia, Georgia, Ukraine, Romania, Turkey, 7 countries, 20 participants during 6 intense days of work.

Sometimes we had deep confrontation, through which we had the opportunity to know and understand the situation in every country.

Gender violence: a definition

Whatever act of violence, physical, emotional, sexual, economical committed against a woman for the only reason to be a women is gender violence.

Those acts of violence are the results of an historical and cultural process which establish the supremacy of men among women as “natural”, reinforcing a strong division of roles that are perceived as well as relative on the “inner essence” of women and man.

In a word, patriarchy.

Patriarchal systems are all over the word, from east to west, with a strong common basis and very few gradation of differences. Mostly we can say that those difference are mostly relative on the perception of those.

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Despite the difference we have found, all of us agree the root of gender violence must be cut soon as possible. This is one of the reason why the youth exchange about gender violence will be addressed to very young boys and girls.

“I trust you” – “Mi fido di te” – a multidisciplinary approach to domestic violence

During our training we have been guided by Alessandra and Anna, a politology/psychologist and a professional actress which have develop a very interesting methodology to work with teenagers about domestic violence.

An old quote says “One picture is worth more the 1000 words”: what Alessandra and Anna does its pretty much this, show to teenagers what domestic violence is and ask them to reflect and represent those thoughts. In order to understand the techniques used by Anna and Alessandra, we have tried first hand the methods.

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As in the shadow theatre session, we had the opportunity to reflect on the emotion felt by all the “actors” in the “play”: the victim, the perpetrator, the friends/family of one or both sides.

The key factor of the methodologies proposed by Anna and Alessandra is their multidisciplinary approach: sociology, psychology, acting altogether create a perfect mix to induce reflexion, help self-expression and work on the deep cause of gender inequality and the consequently violence.

“We are all victims” – how to work with the perpetrator

Patriarchy damage not only the women, but also the men, who are forced as well to fit in a pre-establish role, as the bread winner, the head of the house, the one who never cries. But we are not character of a bi-dimensional story, we are complex beings with an unlimited set of features. Both women and men who are forced to assume those fixed roles, suffer of violence. In the case of many men, especially the ones of older generation whose have grown up in a social context where there was no room for protest, end up acting and commit violence.

The unfortunately many times untold, and mostly misunderstood story is that violence is the ultimate way to express a discomfort through a situation, to overcome or avoid such response is necessary a process of inner reflection about ourselves and the system where we live.

The feminist movement have done exactly this process: mother, daughter, housewife were the only roles where a women could recognize herself – the rebellion to this roles have started many years ago and patriarchy has not always be the same- but we can simplify that in the last century, women reached rights in the social, political, economic field, who consequently free (mostly) of them from those roles.

The liberation of men seem to be started very shyly, and the old generation are the most resistant to the change of paradigma.

Men which feel obligate to absolve to a role who became obsolete tend to answer with violence. Also, men who are used to, and think naturally of a relation based on submission, who will maintain and reproduce this sick model of relation until the ultimate consequences, the murder of the partner.

How to work with those men?

Listening is the key, listening their familiar history, their discomfort and troubles. The first step of a long path, is provide a safe face where they can express themselves, from there associations like Liberi dalla violenza and Maschile plurale, start their work. It’s not an easy path, and mostly it doesn’t finish, the meeting and the professional support for this men it’s not a simple intervention and it could requires years.

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Work in progress, waiting for the youth exchange

After three days of listening, we start to design the activities which will take place in the youth exchange. We don’t want to spoiler, but we have in mind a loooot of interesting activities for our fellow participants, interested to join? Soon more info!

And finally, the snow.

Eventually, the snow came. At the end of a long, tough, week of meeting and brainstorming, we were lucky enough to finalize our training surrounded by a white cold coat, which we enjoyed very much!

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Corinna Genchi, Anna Carballo, from FAGIC organisation, Barcelona, Spain

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