House divided against itself

We live in a society so confident of the potential peacemaker of Western values ​​and institutions that macabre violence in the home environment is particularly abhorrent to us. But what seeds persist in the origin of this evil?

Looking at Portugal, the media has been transmitting disturbing information about domestic violence, both by indication of complaints and the number of homicides. It is also suggested that the situation has worsened during periods of confinement that will have left victims more vulnerable to aggressors. This hypothesis deserves our reflection, but like any issue that affects the family, it has to be understood in a systemic, relational and in its proper context.

Firstly, the increase in the number of reports can be alarming at first impression, but it can eventually be a positive sign, either because of the greater access to information or the greater awareness and courage of the victims.

Second, public awareness tends to focus almost exclusively on female victims and violence between the couple, but there are factors that trigger various types of violence and that can victimize any member of the family.

If for decades we have faced the problems of loneliness and neglect aggravated by the conditions of postmodern and urban life, in a year marked by confinement, social detachment, decreased income and anxiety, these situations of loneliness have taken on new proportions. The elderly felt these conditions in a crude way, especially if they experienced a long, uncertain and lonely hospitalization. And how many have not been neglected by their own families, for financial or character reasons? This is a much more difficult answer to verify and report.

Which leads us to an essential distinction in terms of violence: physical or visible, more denounced and verifiable; and psychological or invisible violence, which perpetuates itself discreetly and erodes family relationships, leaving long-term damage. Physical violence is more prominent between men and women, even for biological reasons. Psychological violence, on the other hand, is less linear and can be perpetrated by women against men, such as, for example, parents against children, or children against parents.

The social, economic and cultural contexts of our societies also clarify the analysis of this problem. It is noteworthy that society and family today are based on a deep affective idealization of relationships and on individual narcissism that tends to instrumentalize the other, even if involuntarily. Since the first courtships, the dysfunctional profile of insecure, possessive, selfish men and women without great purposes of altruism and cooperation, companionship and fidelity is evident.

If we adopt the lens of anthropological skepticism, we shiver the path to understand that the absolute extinction of violence is unattainable, but that the defense of social principles and institutions that we have inherited from the past and that have been tested for many generations, have contributed, to a large extent , for balance, livelihood, social peace and security.

Domestic violence is not explained by a single factor, nor should it be captured by ideological campaigns that sow everyone's struggle against everyone within their own family and in society. Alternatively, it is important to understand that both the weakening of marital relationships and the dysfunctionality of the socio-economic organization in the face of family needs are the seeds of the spiral of physical and psychological violence that is shaking the home of many families.

The author writes according to the old spelling.

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