The Evil of Banality: “Beata Solitude Sola Beatitudo” While Surviving Abuse

2021 marked the seventh year of my divorce litigation. Three years after the judgement of divorce was signed, I am still dealing with its aftermath. My divorce was characterized by corruption, greed and injustice. It seems that I had to face all the “evil” of human nature. Abuse extended from the domestic walls to bullying by neighbors and even by people once I thought were friends. My world fell into the “rabbit hole” while I developed Legal Abuse Syndrome (LAS), a form of Post Traumatic Stress Disorders. LAS was caused by intimidation a former judge who left her office after a petition of over 1300 signatures to remove her from the bench. Thanks to a healthy frugal lifestyle, a movement practice and creative endeavors, I have been able to live a productive life. I daily practice yoga and while living in New York City I was daily power walking, often over 15–20 kilometers a day. But any exposure to bullying and harassment triggers severe anxiety, nightmares, insomnia while reliving traumatic episodes.

As a means of coping I developed in the past four years an autoethnography/art project with exhibition and performance titled “The Evil of Banality”. The title is inspired by Hannah Arendt’s “banality of evil” and draws on my latest art/social practice. The project revolves around different, yet intersecting, themes. The first theme is divorce and corruption of the “legal” system involved in family law. The abuse expands from the domestic walls to the neighborhood, whose is often destroyed by real estate profit, bringing to other themes of bullying and gentrification. Finally the project addresses the inadequacy of various bureaucracies which should be involved in protecting victims of domestic violence. For years I have been trying unsuccessfully to get assistance from the Center for Family Justice. My case involves mental cruelty, emotional abuse and financial control — which are recognized as domestic violence — but I was never provided any legal support or counseling. It is astonishing how the US legislation ignores the broad social damage brought domestic violence, while in Europe there are not only social programs to support the victims, but also a comprehensive legislation as in the recent Domestic Abuse Bill passed in the UK on January 21 2019.

I started “The Evil of Banality” in the belief that creative expression and spiritual practices are a means of survival and healing for victims of social problems such as bullying and domestic abuse. Breaking the silence can be on its own a cathartic act: quoting Audre Lorde, “My silences had not protected me. Your silence will not protect you. But for every real word spoken, for every attempt I had ever made to speak those truths for which I am still seeking, I had made contact with other women while we examined the words to fit a world in which we all believed, bridging our differences.” “The Evil of Banality” made me collect several hundreds of emails and divorce related documents, which are a journal of the several abuses I have been surviving since 2015. “The Evil of Banality” can be considered a lifelog, where recording is focused on abuse in the dual effort to achieve legal closure as well as emotional healing.

When the COVID-19 arrived, I was still dealing with the aftermath of the damages caused by the legal system and the many abuses which started with the divorce. The pandemic took away the connections and events—which were, what I believed, an important component of my social life—and I became completely isolated. For the first months of 2020 I was living alone in the Upper West Side apartment, in the cultural desert and social environment so negatively transformed by the gentrification of the past twenty years. Enduring such isolation in a hostile environment has been one of the most challenging experience of my life. My daily movement and meditation practice once again rescued me from such dire life conditions. The recording of the practice became “journal of resilience as spatial awareness” in response to the “social distancing” and isolation.




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daniela bertol

I am a research artist, scholar, author, inventor, designer and…survivor of bullying and domestic abuse. Creativity and yoga are a survival means to challenges.