Fellow Since 1998
Clínica Psicanalítica da Violência
This profile was prepared when Graça Pizá de Menezes was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 1998.
The New Idea
Graça Pizá de Menezes has developed a comprehensive mechanism to identify and treat the victims of domestic violence, while at the same time strengthening efforts to prevent the recurrence of the violence and abuse in society. Driven by the belief that psychological support is fundamental for the recovery of young victims of violence, Graça created a model clinic where psychological counseling and legal advice provide the focus for the treatment and support for sufferers of abuse. Breaking through the wall of silence that shrouds cases of domestic violence and abuse in Brazil, Graça is reaching out to relevant strata of society - schools, hospitals, police, courts, and community organizations - to bring the issue of violence in the home into the public sphere and change the way services are provided for victims of domestic and family abuse. Graça is training teachers, judges, lawyers and social workers how to recognize and deal with family and community violence, what types of intervention are appropriate, and what referral structures are available. This combination of specialized treatment and public consciousness-raising is unprecedented in Brazil, and has already enabled Graça to forge key strategic alliances with state and private entities and afforded her with great influence on public thinking on the issue of domestic violence. Her efforts have already led to an important juridical reform, which makes admissible the court testimony of psychologists who have treated victims of violence or abuse. She is working to break down the taboos surrounding domestic and social violence, while building a juridical framework and a network of institutions that can more capably respond to a problem which reaches epidemic proportions in Brazil.