Media representation of verbal, emotional and psychological violence in intimate communication. Analysis of cultural roots and interactions in some films


  • Elisa Rossi University of Modena and Reggio Emilia, Italy
  • Antonella Capalbi University of Modena and Reggio Emilia, Italy



Adopting a socio-anthropological approach, this article aims to examine how eleven films represent verbal, emotional and psychological violence within heterosexual couples, specifically: the cultural roots of it, and the communicative actions expressing it. Data analysis focuses on three forms of abuse: work devaluation; gaslight; control of body, actions, and agency. The anthropological approach deals with the cultural roots of verbal, emotional and psychological abuse. Moving from Gender Studies and a feminist approach, it considers gender-based violence as connected to a power asymmetry between men and women, expressed through this kind of violence. The sociological analysis focuses on the interactions and communicative actions representing it, by combining a systemic and constructivist theory of communication with Dialogue Studies, to show the connection between emotional abuse and monologues. The examined films represent a patriarchal background, which seems to authorise verbal, emotional and psychological violence, displayed mainly through monologic actions and affective manipulation.

Keywords: gender, violence, communication, film, representation.