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  • Inclusion and Social Awareness

This is not love!

We exchanged the flowers, the cutesy hearts and the promises of eternal love for the awareness of the community for what “is not love”

Estimated reading time: 2 minutes and 51 seconds

© Helder Berenguer

Love is in the air, after all, it’s the most romantic day of the year, Valentine's day. Demonstrations of love rain under Cupid’s approval. But, behind those there may be hiding screams, agressions and other maltreatments. In 2020, in a study conducted by União de Mulheres Alternativa e Resposta (UMAR), 67% of the inquired young boys and girls consider dating violence legitimate in at least one of its kinds. Added to this, almost 60% admitted having been victims of violent behaviors.

 “Are you going out dressed up like that?”, “Who’s that girl friend of yours? I don’t want you to speak with her again” , “If you leave me, I don’t know how to live without you”. Maybe in some point of our lives we’ve heard something along those lines. Perhaps directed to us, to our friends or to our relatives. Sometimes the line that divides love from violence is thin and knowing how to identify these signals may be crucial for a case of dating violence.

We couldn’t stand indifferent. The Valentino project, known for coming out every year in order to spread colour and love along the streets of Aveiro, had to reinvent itself! This year, we ditched the flowers, the cutesy hearts and the promises of eternal love and channeled the spotlights for what is not love!

We started with the “This IS NOT love!” campaign. With the support of Pedro Cerqueira from PLATE.PT, we released short videos with phrases and signals which may indicate a toxic relationship. Signals that many of times go by unnoticed. After that, we organized an online talk with the psychologist Rita Bessa, from the Portuguese Association for Victim Support (APAV) who, by answering the audience’s questions, helped us understand what is not love and to what means we can resort in case of violence.

Dating violence begins with the first act of violence, even if only one time, and it doesn’t come down only to physical violence. “We have to be alert, in most cases what happens is that there is one or more abusive conducts. What happens is that those conducts are not always easily identifiable”, comments Rita Bessa. In a casual conversation, many were the topics, from exacerbated jealousy, the power of submission and the need of respect for space and personal valorization. In many cases, helping the victim depends on us being capable of identifying that something is not going as great as it seems “[the victims feel] guilty and close themselves, becoming more and more isolated for not being heard, understood”.

Don’t remain silent. Don’t become one more number in the statistics. If you suffer, or you know someone who does suffer from psychological, emotional or physical violence, APAV can help you. Contact them on -, or by their victim support number 116 006 (free call, on workdays from 9am to 9pm).

The “This IS NOT love” is part of “Valentino” project. It had the collaboration of the Portuguese Association for Victim Support  and  PLATE.PT. It also had the support of Aveiro City Hall and IPDJ - Instituto Português do Desporto e Juventude I.P..

Beatriz Meneses