Yesterday John P. Tassinari shot his wife, Barbara, multiple times with two 45-caliber handguns in the driveway of their Quincy, Massachusetts home. She died at the scene. She left two children, one 10-year-old son from a prior relationship and a 1-year-old from her marriage to Tassinari.
John Tassinari was described as follows by Barbara's family:
- He was a control freak who used a cellphone to keep tabs on his wife.
- He was "infamously obsessive. He would need his hair shaved every Friday. He would wear shorts every day throughout the year."
- He made sure his wife did not have any cash and demanded to see receipts for every purchase she made.
- He called her frequently - dozens of times during the day - to ask her where she was and when she'd be home.
Barbara's family said that she was planning to leave her husband, and not for another man. They said she wanted out of her marriage because of his obsessive, controlling ways. Her father stated that he had never seen any signs of domestic abuse and that he'd have removed his daughter from the home if he'd seen abuse.
[Left: Barbara on her wedding day, a photo provided to the Boston Globe by her family]
Domestic abuse isn't just physical violence
Unfortunately, not enough people realize that domestic abuse is not always physical abuse. Barbara's story is one that can help others understand, recognize and protect themselves and their loved ones from domestic abuse.
Domestic abuse can be physical abuse or it can be the type of conduct that Barbara Tassinari experienced. The following has been defined as domestic abuse [Note: The abuser is usually a male, but not always. However, to avoid repeated "him/her" construction, I am using female pronouns]:
- Using economic constraints (e.g., making her ask for money, giving her an allowance, taking her money, making her account for even minor purchases)
- Using coercion and threats
- Using intimidation (e.g., making her afraid, using gestures, facial expressions, and actions)
- Using emotional abuse (e.g., belittling her, calling her names, making her feel guilty)
- Using isolation (e.g., controlling her activities, limiting her contacts with others)
- Using the children for leverage (e.g., threatening to take the children away, making her feel guilty about the children)
- Using "male privilege" (e.g. treating her like an inferior, making all the big decisions)
- Minimizing or denying abuse, shifting blame (e.g., denying that abuse happened, blaming her for causing the abuse)
For greater detail, see the Power and Control Wheel developed by the Domestic Abuse Intervention Project, Duluth, MN. This Wheel from the same source shows the detrimental effects that domestic violence has on the children living in the household.
Lawyers, family members and friends can help
Those in closest contact with a victim of domestic abuse need to know that research shows that a woman is most at risk of harm when she is planning to leave an abusive relationship. These are some helpful ways lawyers, family and friends can help a woman recognize domestic abuse in a relationship or marriage:
- Show her the materials on this Blog
- Talk with her and help her identify specific behaviors that constitute domestic abuse
- Help her devise a safety plan for leaving
- Help her get a secure email address and learn how to use the Internet safely. (See earlier posts on this Blog about Internet security)
Handbook: A handbook to assist lawyers to identify and help clients who are domestic violence victims from the American Bar Association
Also from the ABA: Tips on Devising a Safety Plan
To read the Boston Globe article about Barbara Tassinari