Violence against women, Valentina Pitzalis: “A plague that must be eradicated, we cannot act only in an emergency”

Disfigured with acid 12 years ago by her ex: “I had the strength to transform hatred and resentment into a mission”

“Giulia’s story has shaken everyone and it is now clear that we cannot act only in an emergency. This social plague must be eradicated from an early age” and “it makes me smile that the government’s proposal for ‘relationship education’ is designed only for high school students, during extracurricular and optional hours. We should start from primary school.” Valentina Pitzalis says so, disfigured with acid 12 years ago by her ex, on the tragedy of Giulia Cecchettin, interviewed by ‘La Ragione’ on the day against violence against women.

12 years have passed since that night of April 17, 2011 in which Valentina’s life was turned upside down. The fury of her ex at the end of their marriage resulting in the gesture of dousing her in petrol and setting her on fire will lead to his death while Valentina will wake up in a hospital bed with a completely disfigured face and a disability on her 100%. Valentina managed to transform that life by the hair into a commitment: to support all women victims of violence in the difficult journey to say enough is enough. “If at the beginning I begged the doctors to kill me due to too much pain, I then realized that I couldn’t let go. I had the strength to transform hatred and resentment into a mission. Not all women were lucky enough to survive like me,” she says.

With courage and self-sacrifice, Pitzalis became a testimonial for the “Never Again” project of the Otb Foundation and Fare x bene Ets: an active prevention and awareness program in middle and high schools throughout Italy.

The initiative has reached over 100 thousand students since 2018. Arianna Alessi, vice-president of the Foundation, proudly confirms that with the increase in cases of violence “the requests for help have also increased at the same time. This is a very positive thing. OTB Foundation and Fare The latter often consists of micro-abuses that women are not able to recognise, as Valentina confirms: “I teach boys to recognize the very first alarm bells. Not identifying them means starting a chain of errors that can be fatal.”

Gender violence seems to respond to a fixed register made of lies, guilt and traps justified by jealousy or “too much love”. As in the case of Giulia Cecchettin. “Stories of violence are cyclical as are reactions. Did you have a miniskirt? Then you asked for it. Or, as in my case where I didn’t die but my executioner did: “then it doesn’t add up to me”. It is defined as “secondary victimization and must be eradicated”.

In the aftermath of November 25, International Day against Violence against Women, Valentina asks us not to lose sight of the goal every day. “Education in schools and certainty of punishment: these are the means to put an end to this collective madness. The kids, at the end of every meeting, come to thank me. A gesture that repays me for all the pain caused by having to retrace my story.”