The paradoxical victim: Intimate violence narratives on trial in Italy

by Alessandra Gribaldo

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By Alessandra GribaldoFull Article:

Victims’ testimony plays a pivotal role in domestic violence hearings in Italy. In examining this role, I approach the Italian legal field as a heterogeneous system of knowledge and power that engages in complex relations with techniques of subjection and discourses of truth and, thus, as eminently suited to investigating the production of the victim-subject. Paradoxically, the testimony of female victims of abuse is trapped between the normativity of justice system requirements and the confessional device, rendering it legally insignificant and thus essentially inadequate. In this context, the women’s credibility and agency are central. I outline one legal case in which race and class intersect and the required modes of testimony are disrupted through the use of communication styles drawn from popular culture.