Yesterday, John P. Tassinari shot his wife, Barbara, multiple times with two 45-caliber handguns in the driveway of their Quincy, Massachusetts home. She died at the scene. She left two children, one son who is 10 and a 1-year-old from the marriage to Tassinari.

John Tassinari was described as follows by Barbara’s family:

  • He was a control freak who used a cellphone to keep tabs on his wife.
  • He was also "infamously obsessive. He would need his hair shaved every Friday, he would wear shorts every day throughout the year."
  • He made sure his wife did not have any cash, and would demand to see receipts for every purchase she made.
  • He called her frequently – dozens of times during the day – to ask her where she was and when she’d be home.

Barbara’s family said that she was planning to leave her husband, but not for another man. They said that she wanted out of her marriage because of his obsessive, controlling ways. Her father stated that he had never seen any signs of domestic abuse and that he’d have removed his daughter from the home if he’d seen abuse.

Domestic abuse isn’t just physical violence

Unfortunately, not enough people realize that domestic abuse is not always physical abuse. Barbara’s story is one that can help others to understand, to recognize and to protect themselves and their loved ones from domestic abuse.

Domestic abuse can be physical abuse or it can be the type of conduct that Barbara Tassinari experienced. The following has been defined as domestic abuse: [NOTE: The abuser is usually, but not always a male. However, to avoid repeated "him/her" construction, I have used female pronouns below.]

  • Using economic abuse (e.g., making her ask for money, giving her an allowance, taking her money, making her account for even minor purchases)
  • Using coercion and threats
  • Using intimidation (e.g., making her afraid using looks, action, gestures)
  • Using emotional abuse (e.g., belittling her, calling her names, making her feel guilty)
  • Using isolation (e.g., controlling her activities, limiting her contacts with others)
  • Using the children (e.g., threatening to take the children away, making her feel guilty about the children)
  • Using male privilege (e.g. treating her like an inferior, making all the big decisions)
  • (Minimizing, denying, blaming (e.g., denying that abuse happened, blaming her for causing the abuse)

For greater detail, see the Power and Control Wheel developed by the Domestic Abuse Intervention Project, Duluth, MN. This Wheel from the same source shows the detrimental effects that domestic violence has on the children living in the household.

Lawyers, family members and friends can help

Those in closest contact with a victim of domestic abuse need to know that research shows that a woman is most at risk of harm when she is planning to leave an abusive relationship. These are some helpful ways lawyers, family and friends can help a woman recognize domestic abuse in a relationship or marriage:

  • Show her the materials on this Blog
  • Talk with her and help her identify specific behaviors that constitute domestic abuse
  • Help her devise a safety plan for leaving
  • Help her get a secure email address and learn how to use the Internet safely. (See earlier posts on this Blog about Internet security)

Earlier articles on this Blog concerning Domestic Violence are found here.

Other resources

Handbook: A handbook to assist lawyers to identify and help clients who are domestic violence victims from the American Bar Association

Also from the ABA: Tips on Devising a Safety Plan

To read the Boston Globe article about Barbara Tassinari (also reprinted below)

SOURCE FOR POST: Updates in Michigan Family Law by Jeanne Hannah

Victim’s kin say spouse was controlling

Family says wife was not fearful

A photo of Barbara Jean (Scolaro) Tassinari in her wedding dress. Her husband is accused of shooting her multiple times Tuesday night in the driveway of their Abington home. A photo of Barbara Jean (Scolaro) Tassinari in her wedding dress. Her husband is accused of shooting her multiple times Tuesday night in the driveway of their Abington home. (SCOLARO FAMILY)
By John R. Ellement

Globe Staff / April 25, 2008

QUINCY – The relatives of an Abington woman allegedly shot to death by her husband this week said yesterday that John P. Tassinari was a control freak who used a cellphone to keep tabs on his wife, but that they had no hint he was violent.

"She was never really afraid of him," Francis D. Scolaro, the father of Barbara Tassinari said yesterday, standing outside the modest house where his extended family had gathered. "And I never heard the man say boo."

Francis Scolaro said that Barbara Tassinari, 29, was the youngest of his eight children, the one he called his "spoiled child" because when he was unable to give her something, one of her older siblings would step in to help.

One of those siblings, Ann G. Walsh, spent part of yesterday patiently chasing after the 1-year old son of John and Barbara Tassinari, an active boy also named Francis, who seemed to be searching for his mother.

"She loved children; she loved being with her family," Ann said of her sister.

Plymouth County prosecutors said John Tassinari, 29, used two .45-caliber handguns from his collection to repeatedly shoot his wife, who fell in the driveway of their Pilgrim Street home Tuesday night, suffering multiple gunshot wounds.

Authorities said Tassinari called Abington police on the 911 line around 10:10 p.m., declaring, "My wife has been cheating on me, and I just shot her dead. Please come arrest me. . . . I’m sorry." Their son, Francis, was home, but a 10-year-old son Barbara Tassinari had from an earlier relationship was with his father at the time, relatives said.

Before police arrived, Barbara’s older brother and next door neighbor, Francis G. Scolaro, arrived with a .32-caliber handgun, found his sister’s body, and forced Tassinari to the ground, holding the gun to his head while vowing to shoot and kill him.

Frank Scolaro was disarmed at gunpoint by Abington police Officer Ronald Sweeney, according to a police report.

The elder Scolaro applauded his son for showing restraint and not pulling the trigger.

"I gave him a great big hug for not shooting him," the elder Scolaro said of his namesake. "That would have been two tragedies."

In a telephone interview, Police Chief David Majenski said he will not pursue charges against the victim’s brother, who he said was licensed to own and carry firearms.

"I can’t say that under the same circumstances, I wouldn’t have done the same thing," the chief said. "I think that he did the right thing."

Majenski said his department had no contact with Tassinari during the past several years while they lived in the South Shore town.

He said John Tassinari was issued a permit to own weapons several years ago and was given a license to carry a concealed weapon in 2004. The chief said that Tassinari wanted the concealed permit for target shooting.

"He had nothing in his record that would statutorily disqualify him" from being issued the license to carry a concealed weapon, the chief said.

Tassinari’s parents lived across Pilgrim Street from the scene of the slaying and could not be reached for comment.

The victim’s father said he has no animosity toward the Tassinari family and would like to hear from them.

On his myspace.com webpage, John Tassinari described himself as a gun enthusiast and firearms safety instructor who loved "cars, guns, motorcycles, vodka, and A/V equipment."

Barbara Tassinari’s family said Tassinari was also infamously obsessive. He would need his hair shaved every Friday, he would wear shorts every day throughout the year, he would make sure his wife did not have any cash, and would demand to see receipts for every purchase she made, they said.

The elder Scolaro said that his daughter came to his Quincy home seemingly every day and that it would take Tassinari just five minutes to call to check up on her. Tassinari called dozens of times during the day.

Relatives said the couple met at a nightclub and that Barbara was immediately smitten with Tassinari and his impressive academic accomplishments in science.

"I wished she’d met the biggest loser in the world," said brother John Scolaro. "She’d be better off."

The family said that Barbara was planning on leaving the marriage, but not because she had found someone else.

Instead, they said, she was leaving Tassinari and his obsessive, controlling ways behind.

"She couldn’t handle it, the monotony," said Ann Walsh. "Every day the same thing."

The elder Scolaro said that if he had seen any sign of abuse, he would have pulled his daughter out of the house. But he didn’t.

"I don’t want to hear his name any more," Francis Scolaro said. "I just feel completely empty now."

SOURCE: The Boston Globe