Living with the Enemy by Donna Ferrato

For over three decades documentary photographer Donna Ferrato has been advocating for survivors of domestic abuse and women’s rights. Ferrato found herself working with this issue by chance. In 1982, while staying with a family she was photographing for an assignment, Ferrato heard a commotion in the night. That evening Ferrato became witness to a moment, unfortunately not uncommon in the United States, in which a husband, Bength, hit his wife, Elisabeth. Instinctually, Ferrato took a picture knowing that Elisabeth’s story would likely not be taken seriously and also hoping that Bength would change his behavior in the presence of a witness. This encounter served as a catalyst for her career-long photographic work documenting women’s stories and the impacts of domestic abuse. In 1991, Ferrato published many of these photographs in Living with the Enemy by Aperture, which has been reprinted four times. More importantly, Ferrato’s work has ignited decades of advocacy work for survivors of domestic abuse and women’s rights that has helped to attract funding for domestic violence shelters nationwide and educated people on the warning signs of abuse, as well as the obstacles survivors face when trying to leave their abusers. Donna Ferrato’s ongoing work captures the individual strength of the women she comes to know while confronting viewers with the undeniability of the very real human dimension to a far-reaching problem. Ferrato’s photographs have appeared in The New York Times Magazine, Life, Time, USA Today and numerous other publications and broadcast stories. They also have been part of antiviolence campaigns by President Bill Clinton and former New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, among other initiatives.

ClientPersonal project. Book published by ApertureServicesReportageYearfrom 1991/ working in progress

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