Backed by her experience against gender violence, writer Maribel Maseda today asserted the power of abused women with her latest book “The safe zone”, a handbook that offers tools for victims to move away from their attacker and so start a new life.

Having been instrumental in helping hundreds of women, she presented today “The safe zone” (LID Publishers) at the World Bank in Washington, during a meeting of the “50/50 Society” which aims to interconnect the interests of women from different parts of the world.

Trained in nursing and a specialist in psychiatry, Maseda decided to devote her life to fighting gender violence when at 20, the first day she stepped into a hospital, an elderly lady told her a secret: her deceased husband mistreated her.

“She spoke softly as if she thought her dead husband could return to give her another beating. At that time I believed I could do nothing but life made me the confident of hundreds of other women and I said to myself: I’ve got to do something”  she says.

Since then, Maseda accompanied hundreds of women to courts, contacted the aggressors, heard the calls filled with fear by children on the wee hours of the morning and witnessed dozens of outrageous situations that made her take up the matter seriously.

“Once I was walking through a park and I heard a man threatening and shouting to his wife, telling her that, once they got home, he would break her teeth. ‘You know what awaits you,’ he said. And nobody did anything, no one called the police, and all they asked was: why is she not running away?, why does she not leave him? “.

With this type of experience, Maseda has tirelessly reported that policies to combat gender violence just put the focus on the woman and plain forget the abuser, the real cause of violence.

“We must address the problem and not the consequences,” said Maseda, who rejects the existence of a “battered woman profile”, an idea that blames women and puts them under the spotlight of a problem about which they have no responsibility.

What it does exist for sure, according to the author, is a perpetrator profile. Somebody who, from a very early age, knows he wants to dominate women and tests his power with his mother and/or sister before he does against his partner.

“The partnership status gives him the perfect cover for assaulting” she stresses.

To overcome this situation, the woman begins a tedious and exhausting “pilgrimage” in passing through a number of police officers, from court to court and from friend to friend, “failing to see themselves and feeling embarrassed by the feeling of a false treason”.

Quite a different process for the man, who according to the author, will again assault his next partner and, after undergoing the usual therapy to try and solve his aggressiveness, will relapse in 25 percent of the cases.

In her 192 page book,  Maseda also explains why sometimes the victim accepts abuse or tries to give her attacker more and more opportunities,  in a circle like in the “Stockholm Syndrome” suffered by the abducted who end up identifying themselves with their captors.

Helping to restore dignity is one of the objectives of the author, who also turns her attention to the children, who daily are also made the victims of violence and  of a feeling of “false betrayal” by which “whatever happens at home, stays at home.”

The privatization of the problem and the idea that the responsibility of solving  what happens inside the home is exclusively of those concerned “does nothing but worsen the conflict,” she says.

Denounce and support are the goals of this book, which with a practical vision and through the voice of Maseda reminds women worldwide that they have the skills and more than enough resources to fight this “endemic” problem.

Translated by Arturo Guillén