The Different
faces of violence

The Maria da Penha Law describes physical and psychological violence as well as moral, sexual and economic violence. These forms of aggression are complex, and perverse; they do not occur isolated from each other, and have serious consequences for women. Any of them is an act of violation of human rights and must be reported.

Empty my eyes
and condemn me
to the everlasting darkness...
from which I, more than ever,
from the slime of my soul,
will rise lucid,
roaring against everything:
Enough! Enough! Enough!

Noémia de Sousa,

1. Physical


Is understood as any conduct that offends the integrity or the physical health of a woman.
  • Beatings
  • Throwing objects, shaking and squeezing the arms
  • Strangulation or suffocation
  • Injury with sharp or cutting objects
  • Injury caused by burns or firearms
  • Torture
  • Threats
  • Limitation of the right to come and go
  • Persistent persecution
  • Embarrassment
  • Humiliation
  • Manipulation
  • Isolation (prohibiting the woman from leaving home, studying and traveling, or talking to friends and relatives)
  • Constant monitoring
  • Insults
  • Blackmail
  • Exploration
  • Subjecting to ridicule
  • Taking away the freedom of belief



Considered as any behavior that causes emotional damage and diminishes self-esteem; harms and disrupts the full development of a woman; or aims to degrade or control her actions, behaviors, beliefs, and decisions.



Any conduct that compels a woman to witness, maintain or participate in unwanted sexual intercourse through intimidation, threat, coercion or use of force.
  • Rape
  • Forcing a woman to perform sexual acts that cause discomfort or disgust (fetishes)
  • Preventing the use of contraceptive methods or forcing the woman to abort
  • Forcing marriage, pregnancy or prostitution through coercion, blackmail, bribery or manipulation
  • Limiting or nullifying the exercise of women's sexual and reproductive rights
  • Theft, extortion or damage
  • Controlling her money
  • Failure to pay alimony
  • Destruction of personal documents
  • Larceny
  • Depriving a woman of assets, values or economic resources
  • Intentionally causing damage to objects that either belong to the woman or that she is fond of

4. Economic


Understood as any conduct that entails retention, subtraction, partial or total destruction of objects, work instruments, personal documents, property, values, and economic rights or resources, including those intended to meet the woman’s needs.



Any conduct that constitutes calumny, defamation or libel.
  • Trying to tarnish a woman's reputation
  • Issuing moral judgments about her conduct
  • Making up lies
  • Exposing her intimate life
  • Distorting and omitting facts to make the woman question her memory and sanity
  • Diminishing the woman by means of scolding that aim at her moral character
  • Devaluing the victim because of the way she dresses
A culture of violence and discrimination

Whether in the public or private sphere, abuses against women occur in many ways. Sentences like “Only sluts wear red lipstick”; “Respectful women don’t drink”; "If she was wearing that skirt on the street, she was asking for it”; “Women that have sex on the first date are not marriage material”; “A woman's place is in the kitchen”; “Not all women enjoy being beaten, only the normal ones do”, among many others, create a cultural panorama of a patriarchal society that legitimizes, promotes and silences violence against women.

Changing this mentality and fighting gender stereotypes is one way to deal with this kind of aggression and to make it clear that it is no longer acceptable. It’s #TimeToStop violence against women.

“I also knew about a type of violence inflicted almost invisibly, which is the prejudice against women, the disrespect that opens the way to more severe and serious acts against us. Despite our achievements, even though we do not have the best opportunities, they often still say that we are inferior, and this continues to appear in public comments, jokes, songs, movies or publicity pieces. They say that we are bad drivers, that we like to be beaten, that we should restrict ourselves to cooking, to bed or to shadows.”

Maria da Penha
Excerpt from the book Sobrevivi... posso contar (I survived, I can tell) (2012)