“Eat,” he yelled at her.
“You are a monster,” he said.
“This anorexia thing is all bullshit,” the father screamed.
His daughter was suffering from anorexia and her father didn’t do anything to help. Just the opposite, since he didn’t believe her. Instead of looking for treatment and a specialist, he yelled at her, belittling her feelings and issues.
The girl had been suffering from anorexia for over 10 years. It had started when she was little, not even a teenager yet. Then, the mother separated and she reported the ex. That’s when everything surfaced.
Sentenced to 2 years and 6 months
Investigators discovered that the father refused to go to a specialist, despite the wife’s concerns for the health of her daughter. She wanted to look for help to fight the anorexia. Instead, he wanted to force the girl to eat. He constantly humiliated her, screaming she was a monster. This behavior only pushed her even further away from food. When she needed rest, the father forced her to work in the family’s store. This, despite the doctor’s contrary opinion.
The girl told the police she refused to eat because she was afraid of losing her father’s love. She was becoming a woman, would he still accept her? So, she pushed away food and fell deeper in anorexia, while he pushed her away. To authorities, his actions only worsened the situation and the daughter’s health. Hence the sentence to two years and six months in prison for abuse.
”Parents are crucial and they are the first mirrors for their kids. But often, they don’t realize they are reflecting a wrong image. They exalt the positive results of their kids, instead of telling them that failure is normal,” said psychologist Alessia Santoro to Il Giornale about anorexia in Italy.
Anorexia and eating disorders in Italy
The research of the Italian Society for the Eating Disorder Studies (SISDCA) revealed that every year, 8.500 Italians suffer from these issues. Of these, 96% are women, especially pronte to anorexia and bulimia. Ten in 100 are teenagers and the age is lowering more and more. Sometimes, children suffer from eating disorders, caused by mental health issues.
However, the real numbers might be different. In fact, the researches only count cases that made it to the hospital. Many suffer in silence at home. Plus, cases of anorexia or eating disorders can be categorized as malnutrition or excessive weight loss. So, wrong label for real issues. While there are clinics and support centers, that might not be enough to fight anorexia in Italy.
“Schools are crucial, it’s where we have to start explaining how and why disorders like anorexia happen,” said doctor Santoro, “prevention has to be a large-scale plan, targeting both kids and parents. But we don’t have a real strategy in place. There are good organization, but we need to talk more about this. Prevention means avoiding many of these cases. So, there still a lot to do.”
Often, people suffering from anorexia and any eating disorders look for acceptance. They look for approval, so any critique can be the final and harshest wound. Anything can push the anxiety and fear over the edge. But only support from the family and from a specialist can help. Also, sentences that consider any different behavior as “abuse.”