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Behind Closed Doors

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Behind Closed Doors


Behind Closed Doors, Donna Ferrato, 1982


Here was nothing particularly special about Garth and Lisa or the violence that happened in the bathroom of their suburban New Jersey home one night in 1982. 

Enraged by a perceived slight, Garth beat his wife while she cowered in a corner. Such acts of intimate partner violence are not uncommon, but they usually happen in private. This time another person was in the room, photographer Donna ­Ferrato.

Ferrato, who had come to know the couple through a photo project on wealthy swingers, knew that simply bearing witness wasn’t enough. Her shutter clicked again and again. 

Ferrato approached magazine editors to publish the images, but all refused. So Ferrato did, in her 1991 book - Living With the Enemy. 

The landmark volume chronicled domestic-­violence episodes and their aftermaths, including those of the pseudonymous Garth and Lisa. Their real names are Elisabeth and Bengt; his identity was revealed for the first time as part of this project. 

Ferrato captured incidents and victims while living inside women’s shelters and shadowing police. Her work helped bring violence against women out of the shadows and forced policymakers to confront the issue. 

In 1994, Congress passed the Violence Against Women Act, increasing penalties against offenders and helping train police to treat it as a serious crime. Thanks to Ferrato, a private tragedy became a public cause.

This incident, set her on a long career as an advocate for battered women, helping to change how abuse is viewed and how it is handled by doctors and law enforcement officers.

For the last 30 years, she said, the emphasis has been on educating society as to why men are abusive, rather than why women stay with them. “We’ve always tried to avoid that question,” she said. “I want the woman, especially if she is a mother, to feel the responsibility. If she’s got children, she can’t stay with a man like this. Her children are in too much jeopardy.”

Donna Ferrato has been honoured for her activism and art, winning journalism awards for her courage and humanism, and even having New York City declare Oct. 30, 2008, “Donna Ferrato Appreciation Day” in recognition of her work.

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I would not stand for beating of Woman or Man as it's Not Nice or Right!!!!!!!!!!!!! 

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