I am blissfully strolling the sun-dappled cobblestone streets of an elegant shopping area in Rome. Suddenly, a man with fashionable stubble and clothes rushes the doorway of one of the boutiques, and I see the frightened face of the saleswoman who appears to be in the boutique alone.
It looks like a mugging or a store robbery.
But the way he pushes into her with his puffed-out chest is very familiar to me, and I know he is not a stranger to her.
I take a few steps toward them.
He gives me a threatening glare and snarls something in Italian. She says to me in a trembling voice, “It’s my boyfriend. It’s ok.”
I shout out, “IT'S NOT OK!”
I say, “I was in a relationship like that, and I know what you are going through. He should not be doing that to you.”
After the outrage, I start to tremble. I take out my notebook and approach the first woman I see, who is standing on a corner typing into her cellphone. I tell her what I just saw. She says “That does not happen here a lot, but it is up to the woman to stop it!” As for the woman in question: “Maybe she just likes to be dominated.” I say, “So you don’t have any woman friends who have ever been in an abusive relationship?” “No!” She says firmly.
Why is being terrorized or brutalized OK if it is your boyfriend who's doing it?
How is it less serious, and less of a violation, when the person who is violent toward you is not a stranger, but someone you love and someone who purports to love you?
Why, when it is a "romantic" relationship, do the proverbial doors close to interference when it is obvious something is wrong?
When it comes to domestic violence, when will people -- and most egregiously women -- stop blaming the victim?
And, what I can't stop thinking about: If this man in Rome is such a thug to this young woman in broad daylight when there are people everywhere, what is he doing to her at home, behind closed doors?