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March 4, 2017

Living With the Enemy: Pioneering Pictures of Domestic Violence by Donna Ferrato

One of the most difficult aspects of policing domestic violence—and reporting on it—is that it is almost always hidden from view. Allegations of abuse, especially in an era of trial by social media, can be stigmatizing for both parties, and all too often the result is no more than a he-said-she-said stalemate.

For over twenty years, Donna Ferrato has been documenting the effects of domestic violence on abused women and their children. Photographing in emergency rooms and shelters, courtrooms and activist rallies, batterers' groups and women's detention centers, Ferrato aims to expose "the dark side of family life."

Collected in the exhibition and publication "Living with the Enemy" (Aperture, 1991), these groundbreaking pictures are paired with texts by the photographer drawn from her conversations with the victims and perpetrators of abuse.

Martha, who had been stabbed in the leg by her boyfriend, wouldn't press charges. Philadelphia, 1985.

Garth and Lisa in the bathroom. Saddle River, N.J. 1982.

Janice. "I was crazy to put up with it, but I was always told, 'If you leave me, I'll kill you" ... That's why I stayed."

Diamond confronted his dad as they arrested him. "I hate you for hitting my mom," he said. "I hope you don't come back to the house." Minneapolis, 1988.

One week after nearly dying, Diane looked at her battered face and said, "I guess I don\u2019t look too bad." 1988.

A mother and daughter, both murdered by the mother's boyfriend. He was found guilty on all counts and is serving life in prison. Washington, D.C., 1993.

Karen cried as her boyfriend was arrested. Her daughter called 9-1-1 after she heard when her mother was hit in the head. Minneapolis, 1988.

After Rita's husband punched her in the eyes, smashed her face with a telephone and broke her nose, her sons cried: She didn't look like their Mommy anymore. 1985.

A woman who had been kicked in the head. Pittsburgh, 1984.

Diane was arguing with her boyfriend when he hit her and pushed her out of the van, ran her over and left her lying in the road.

While police arrested Diamond's father for assault, his mother became angrier. Minneapolis, 1988.

Police arrested a wife-beater who violently resisted arrest as his wife was consoled by an outreach pastor riding with the police. Minnesota, 1993.

Two women discussed their experiences. Minnesota, 1988.

A women's shelter. Minneapolis, 1988.

A mother and child experienced their first safe night in a Philadelphia Shelter for battered women. 1985.

After the children were put to bed, women took time for themselves. Minnesota, 1988.

"I sat on the floor with six wife beaters and Michael Lindsey. The room was very dark and had an air of intimacy. My camera was an intrusion. There was an awkward silence, then the stories began to flow one by one."

Mont and Jan. "I moved in with several couples to begin to document their once-violent relationships on the mend."

After his father's arrest, Ernie began to imitate him by hitting sister and destroying her things.

(Photos by Donna Ferrato)


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