Love Notes

Alessandro Rampazzo

2019 - Ongoing

Helsinki, Uusimaa, Finland

“Do you think I am to blame for this?”

Nita asked me this question many times.

I met Nita in 2018 to realize some pictures for her new career as fashion stylist. After some months we’ve become close enough to allow her to open up about her personal life. On night she wrote me telling me that she’s been beaten up by her boyfriend and that wasn’t the first time, but definitely it would have been the last one.

'Love Notes', is the story of Nita, a 34 years old Finnish woman and mother of two kids who’s been living in an abusive relationship for four years, since the birth of her twins.

About one year ago she decided to end the relationship and get back her life.

I decided to focus my attention on the aftermath of the violence, a topic most of the time forgotten but very important as well. As I had the chance to understand the violence many times unfortunately doesn’t end when the abuser is sent away.

The story takes place in Finland, a country know as the happiest country in the world, a country praised for equality and that recently has seen its Government coalition being led by an almost 'women only' group of party leaders. Finland unfortunately hides under the blanket of gender equality and women’s rights the unfortunate second place in the EU for the highest percentage of cases of domestic violence. (according to recent EU statistics)

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  • Pictures of Nita and her kids on her fridge's door. It was a surprise for her to notice that there are no pictures of her and her boyfriend

  • For the past four years and since the birth of her twins, Nita reports to have been victim of violence from her boyfriend and father of the kids

  • A bunch of roses that Nita's mum brought her in one of her visits. Since the breakup Nita had struggled to take care of herself eating very few, sleeping only few hours per night and loosing weight. When her mother comes to visit, together with the kids, she helps with cleaning and reordering her house.

  • A series of pictures from few years back that Nita managed to keep in her phone. She says they portrait her conditions after one of the fights with her ex boyfriend

  • When she decided to brake up and sue her ex boyfriend Nita though that things would have quickly been better. The reality is that she feels most of the time alone in the fight for her rights of woman and mother.

  • Nita applying some makeup before a work meeting. Since the breakup she had decided to fully invest in her dream of becoming a fashion stylist. She's been lately meeting photographers, cloth designers and models so to start her career.

  • Nita styling a model for a photoshoot. For the moment she's not being paid but her new career is slowly taking off

  • For the first few months Nita lived separate from her kids, this made her feeling even more alone. She constantly feel no one is on her side in this fight. She claims that even her parents are blaming her for having being so long with her boyfriend. At the moment her two kids are living with them in the Finnish countryside, giving her the chance to focus on the lawsuit and her work.

  • When back at home it's hard for her not to feel sad. The distance with her kids (kids have been staying with Nita's parents for the first months after the breakup) and the long road of the court case makes her often feel alone fighting for her and her kids' rights.

  • During the years of her troubled relationship, Nita has accumulated a big pile of reports she did about her boyfriend’s violence. She claims she was pressured by her boyfriend to go for mediation and drop the charges every time as he was threatening otherwise to make her life impossible. “There is a law - she says - where the police should start to investigate on the situation if they see multiple reports for domestic violence, especially in families with kids. Why nothing of this happened?”

  • The first hearing for the kids custody took place more than five months after her breakup. She had to be present in the courtroom together with her ex boyfriend. The idea to be in the same room with her violent partner made her panic many times before reaching the courthouse.

  • After four months of separation, (in agreement with the social services the kids have been living for few months with Nita's parents so to give her the chance to re-set a bit her life) Nita was finally in the conditions to take care of her kids again. Having them back at home is both a joy and a kind of problem as Nita still hasn't managed to have a stable job.

  • A teardrop on Nita's jacket moments before a meeting with her lawyer.

  • Even in a welfare state like Finland is not easy to be a single mum. Finding the time to be with her kids is difficult as Nita is still invested in building up her working career so to provide her kids with a better future. Still she's not earning enough money and is mostly living off of social security.

  • Part of Nita's new job is also to attend events and spend time with other people in the fashion business. There sometimes she manages to forget a bit about all her troubles and have few moments of joy.

  • Nita's journey is far from being over. The final decision about the custody of the kids will be sometime during 2020 and still there is no court date for the beginning of the domestic violence case.

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