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Inspiring Thursday: Anna Costanza Baldry

Anna Costanza Baldry was an Italian psychologist, criminologist and academic researcher who dedicated most of her life to women who have suffered violence and abuse, and to the protection of femicide victims’ children. Her work contributed to shedding light upon gender-based intimate partner violence, and to fostering the empowerment of the survivors. She prematurely passed away on March 9th at the age of 47, after a long illness.

Anna Costanza was born in London in 1970. She received a PhD in Social Psychology from the University of Rome and a PhD in Criminology from the University of Cambridge. When she was in her twenties, she started working with victims of rape and sexual violence, as well as victims of human trafficking. Her interest in gender-based violence brought her to collaborate with many associations and organizations in the field: she joined the NGO “Differenza Donna”, an association that protects women who have suffered violence, and later on became its director. She was also an important member of the Italian network of women’s shelters “D.i.Re” and the director of the Antistalking service ASTRA in Rome.

Amongst her achievements, it is worth noting that she was the creator of the operational protocol SARA (Spousal Assault Risk Assessment), a tool to assess the risk of repeated acts of intimate partner violence. Due to her thorough knowledge of the dynamics of domestic violence and violence against women in general, Anna worked as a trainer for social workers, psychologists, educators, law enforcers and lawyers in different Italian and EU sites. She also operated as an expert consultant for the UN and NATO, where she was in charge of training professionals on gender-based violence, on techniques for dealing with victims, on child abuse and on the integration of women in the military services.

Her last years were dedicated to helping children children who have lost their mother to femicide or domestic violence. She recognized the need for a comprehensive national strategy to protect them and to ensure reparations; therefore, Anna contributed to the making of an Italian law that entered into force in February 2018. Based on the provisions of this law, children who have lost their mother to femicide, the so-called “special orphans”, now have the right to receive free psychological assistance, legal aid, study grants and professional training. They also have the right to continue living in the family home, and the possibility to change their surname if it is the same as that of the perpetrator.

In 2015, after 20 years of tireless activism to combat violence against women, Anna Costanza Baldry was honored with the Order of Merit of the Italian Republic by President Sergio Mattarella. She dedicated this Medal to all the women who found the strength and courage to remove themselves from abusive situations, but also to those who were ultimately killed by their partner and to their children, as well as to all the professionals operating in the field of the prevention and contrast of violence against women.

The news of this premature loss has brought much sadness amongst activists and all the people who had the pleasure of working with her, both in Italy and internationally.

Here’s a brief public statement from the Italian national network of women’s shelters, D.i.Re:

The national association D.i.Re: Women Against Violence, announces with great sadness the death of Professor Anna Costanza Baldry.
Anna was a woman who has devoted most of her life to women who have suffered violence. She was a meticulous and tireless researcher who understood the critical importance of preventing violence against women.

Anna was an international scholar who worked with us both as an activist and volunteer. She created the SARA protocol, a risk assessment tool for assessing repeated male violence against women. Her research and operational protocols are now tools for many law enforcement workers, as well as for women who work in the anti-violence centers. She gave her projects women’s names, SARA was joined by EVA and ISA. They have all become tools that have contributed to improving the ways we work with and welcome women to our services.

Unfortunately, Anna, whom we loved and who showed us many important ways to make women safe, was not able to do the same for herself.

Always busy on many fronts, she gave all her energy to others. One of her last pieces of work was supporting children of intimate partner femicide victims (where their mother has been killed and their father has either killed himself or is in jail), children that she called ‘special orphans’. She contributed tenaciously to campaigning for and achieving a law that protects them after the serious loss they have suffered, a civil provision that provides them with a range of forms of state support.

Anna has left us prematurely, and with the great emptiness that comes with the loss of such a brilliant and vibrant woman.

Goodbye Anna, all the women in our anti-violence centers will continue to benefit from your work even now you have gone. We will continue to walk the path beside you, this time in silence, through your presence is unquestionable.

All the women of the Centers of the national network D.i.Re*

*Kindly translated by Karen Ingala Smith

 

By Valentina Canepa, WAVE Intern

 

Sources

Curriculm vitae et studiorum http://baldry.socialpsychology.org/cv/Baldry_CV_English.pdf

Legge 11 gennaio 2018, n. 4: Modifiche al codice civile, al codice penale, al codice di procedura penale e altre disposizioni in favore degli orfani per crimini domestici https://www.gazzettaufficiale.it/eli/id/2018/2/1/18G00020/sg

LEF-Italia welcomes the new law protecting feminicide orphans https://www.womenlobby.org/LEF-Italia-welcomes-the-new-law-protecting-feminicide-orphans?lang=en

Anna Costanza Baldry, Ufficiale dell’Ordine al Merito della Repubblica Italiana https://www.direcontrolaviolenza.it/anna-costanza-baldry-ufficiale-dellordine-al-merito-della-repubblica-italiana/