Donna Ferrato, photojournalist fighting against domestic violence

Rpassionate portrait of him Donna Ferrato, an American photojournalist who has spoken and still speaks about gender-based violence today. An activist on the side of women, capable of shaking consciences through photography

Not long ago I had the privilege of attending an event where he was a speaker Donna Ferratointernationally renowned photojournalist and activist who tells and has told stories of women living with domestic violence.

During this meeting, held on his occasion Literature Festival in Mantua, Donna Ferrato, addressing the audience, shared how at the age of four her father often told her that she should not trust anyone, “Not even your father”.

Today the old photojournalist is over seventy and has worked in magazines such as Life, Time, People, The New York Times and Mother Jones. His voice is still heard with power, with that power that is built with time and experience, but also with difficulties.

Born in 1949 in Massachusetts, Ferrato grew up in a family that she didn’t define as perfect, but that made her feel free to express herself for who she was.

If you want to be a photographer, keep trying, no matter how long it takes

In 1968 she graduated from Laurel School, which in 1992 recognized her as one of its “Distinguished Alumnae”. In 1979, Ferrato moved to New York, where, through photography, he began documenting the nightclub culture of the late 1970s and early 1980s, such as Studio 54.

If in the beginning he had decided to delve into topics such as pleasure and lovethen he decides to proceed towards his deepening pain and violence. She made this decision a few months after starting her research, when she decided to live for three years straight with a couple who apparently had no relationship problems, but in the privacy of their home the husband beat the woman he was living with since he was thirteen.

When the activist begins to witness everyday scenes of gender-based violence, his life begins to change direction, and so his work will also take a new direction for the next ten years. His insight begins to deepen and his photographs become an occasion for redemption and awareness, as well as a denunciation of injustice.

For the next decade, Ferrato traveled the United States, reporting domestic violence scenes, riding in police cars, sleeping in shelters and staying in the homes of battered women.

His work leads to his publication Living with the Enemy, published by Aperture in 1991 and the subject of discussion and comparison at exhibitions and conferences around the world. This publication testifies to the determination and the feeling of the mission that guided the photojournalist all these years towards the abused women, found, for example, in rehabilitation centers or hospitals. The result is a choral story to support not only those who suffer violence, but mainly aims to open the eyes of those who are unaware of this reality.

The New York Times, regarding the book, wrote:

Living with the Enemy is heartbreaking and emotional. With their shocking immediacy, these photographs offer the kind of urgent call to action provided by all great documentary photographs

She was also honored in 2009 by the New York State Supreme Court Justices for her work on gender equality.

In 2014, Ferrato also launched the campaign THE I am Unrivaled to report, document and prevent domestic violence against women, boys and girls, through the stories of ordinary people.

The goal is not to further pity the victims and lose ourselves in pain, but to use this suffering and profound injustice as redemption and a reminder of courage and hope.

When asked what her source of inspiration is, Ferrato says:

The women I photograph are my inspiration

His latest book, Saint, published in 2020 by Powerhouse Books, is a call to action. It proclaims the sanctity of women’s rights and their right to be the architects of their own destiny.

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