The struggle is surreal

After so many decades, where are we?

© Donna Ferrato, 1982.

My new friend Connie recently introduced me to Donna Ferrato. I was a little star-struck. I had discovered her early in my journey to understand the “market” surrounding domestic violence. Donna’s seminal work as a photojournalist gave the public an inside view into the shameful, secret horror of domestic violence.

Last week I ordered two copies of her critically acclaimed book, “Living with the Enemy.” The exposé was published in 1991. The Violence Against Women Act was passed in 1994. One copy of the book had a personal inscription written inside from 1996. The first thought that came to mind when I read it was, “After all these years, it’s still the same.”

Infuriating. Unacceptable.

I was heading to New York City a couple weeks ago on a business trip so Donna, Connie, and I arranged to get together. Before we were to meet in Donna’s flat in Tribeca, I researched what she had to say these days about domestic violence. I was struck by this comment she made in an interview from 2012 with David Alan Harvey:

“Everyone has to hold violent men accountable, including the women who live with them in state of love or fear or mostly likely both.” — Donna Ferrato

I knew Donna would love our documentary about what’s going on in High Point, NC. She did. I sent her our film preview, and she wrote back to me, “High Point is a dream come true.”

It’s been three years this fall that I’ve been working on finding progressive solutions to domestic violence. The women I talk to inside and outside of the field are angry. When Donna, Connie, and I got together for dinner, we were angry too. There was Sake that night. But there were also tears, dark memories, frustration, and, finally — a sense of resolve.

In light of our current political climate where hate and oppression is unmasking a lot of ugliness, women are more at risk, and it doesn’t take a genius to predict incidents of domestic violence are going to skyrocket. It’s happening already. Earlier this month I was speaking to a police officer who said it is on the rise in the town I where live here in Florida. I asked her about how long she noticed it trending upwards. She said about six months. Imagine that.

Women (and men!) need to come together around this issue. Regardless of where you are on the political spectrum, violence against women is always wrong.

I’m collecting a passionate tribunal of progressive women who want to see radical, systemic change in this area. Donna and Connie are new recruits. Of course, we’re open to men who’d like to join us in this pursuit too.

If you want to contribute, send me a note. Tell me your idea and your story. We’re looking for innovative solutions to disrupt violence against women. More on this topic coming in the next month. Stay tuned.

Donna is interviewed here by Time Magazine. Her photography on domestic violence is featured in the 100 most influential photos of all time.