Anna Costanza Baldry *
It was September 11, 2011 when, 10 years after the terrible terrorist attack that shocked America and the whole world, a well-known American magazine published on the cover and in the main story of that issue the photos and stories of the orphaned children who on that tragic day they had lost both parents.
The article honored their lives as they survived a tragedy, as they were today, 10 years after that sudden and irreparable trauma.
Reading the article and reflecting on those orphans, however, my thoughts immediately went to the orphans whom I unfortunately know best. And I thought of the special orphans, those many orphans of mothers killed by their fathers. Many, many but ignored and segregated. How are they today, after 5, 10, 15 years from that tragic and absurd day? Who I am? (who), where I am now? (Where), and what happened to them, where are they, with whom? (what). Hence the project www.switch-off.eu
I also realized that the data on these 'special' orphans, orphans twice, of the mother killed by the father, of the father who in some cases committed suicide (in 30% of cases of femicide), or in any case far away, in prison with parental responsibility suspended or lapsed.
What were these children told? What has the law done with them? And those adults who found themselves opening their homes that psychological support even before economic was given, if it was given, as they themselves, the families of the victims, deal with their grief and trauma, as well as manage all the problems. social and legal issues arising from the murder? How are these orphans now? Time, as it is naively said to those who suffer from bereavement, has made that unbearable pain dissolve that becomes almost physical from what is intolerable and profound and meaningless?
Having a mother who died of an illness or an accident involves the support and social closeness of the community, of friends, of the school, but if the mother died in that way, following the femicide, is the social reaction the same? Or are there stigmatizations and judgments against these orphans, doubly victimized and unfortunately sometimes also abandoned and stigmatized? Being 'son of…' is experienced as a social stigma that is difficult to remove.
I felt compelled to be able to give to these orphans, to everyone, even those whose mother was killed many years ago, even if they have a new life, to tell their story and to have those who have taken care of it tell it. them, often without having anything in return except that priceless joy of being able to see that orphan being able to think that in the end life has a meaning and is a privilege, and that no one, no one has the right to take it away.
Studying and searching I realized that there are very few studies done in Europe or elsewhere in the world that have shed light on this dark side of femicide: what happens to them. The spotlights of the cameras go dark, the trials end, time fades the memory of our consciences that at the time had a word of pity for these children, and so did those social workers and those of justice and police forces who tried to patch up an unexpected situation, perhaps a new one, in the emergency, for which no one is prepared.
The national network of anti-violence centers was involved in the realization of this project D.i.Re who, as a partner, took care, with the involvement in particular of some centers, of the 'research of these families' in order to be able to interview them directly and learn from them stories, experiences, tales. We managed to find 136 orphans, 33 of whom were adults at the time of the facts and 103 minors. The results of the survey, which also involved Cyprus and Lithuania and the leader of the European project, the Department of Psychology of the Second University of Naples was funded by the EU, (project - JUST / 2012 / DAP / AG / 3242) will be presented in September 2015 together with D.i.Re to provide concrete answers thanks to the guidelines drawn up which highlight the main needs of these orphans and the essential answers to reduce the risk of secondary victimization. Useful reflections also for the anti-violence centers and their important work.
For more information: firstname.lastname@example.org, www.switch-off.eu
* Professor of Social Psychology, Department of Psychology, Second University of Naples