Where does domestic violence start?

It’s in a long press release. shared on Twitter on Sunday, September 18 that Adrien Quatennens, deputy from the North and number 2 of La France insoumise, returned to the facts of which he is accused and that would have led his wife to file a complaint against him:

“Since this separation announcement, we have had discussions. In one of them, I grabbed her wrist. In our last argument, probably the one that justified her choice to feature a handrail, I took her cell phone away from her. Wanting to get it back, she jumped on my back. I moved away and letting go, she bumped her elbow. In this context of separation announcement, I sent my wife too many messages to try to convince her that our difficulties as a couple could be overcome. I think that Céline was able to evoke another event dated a year ago when, in a context of extreme tension and mutual aggressiveness, I slapped her. I gave it away when she didn’t look like me and it never happened again. I deeply regretted this gesture and later apologized very much.

Telephone harassment, slaps, refusal to accept his wife’s will for divorce, fights… So many acts granted here that remain in the throat of all those who commit themselves against gender violence and those who have suffered it.

Society of justification and trivialization

Since then, the members of LFI have undertaken a process of justification and trivialization of these acts. The last, the deputy for Bouches-du-Rhône Manuel Bompard, who told CNews on September 23: “A slap in the face is not the same as a man hitting his wife every day.”

For their part, numerous personalities and feminist activists have denounced the domestic violence exercised on Céline Quatennens by her husband. Where does this violence begin? Are they the same if we look at them from a militant and associative point of view or from a legal point of view?

In the case of Quatennens as in many others, some will only remember the slap. After all, the image of the woman with bruises is very present in people’s minds and seems to be the whole symbol of violence within the couple. However, whatever point of view is adopted, the violence is not limited to beatings. “For us, domestic violence begins as soon as a control is presented. It’s very insidious and it happens little by little,” explains Emmanuelle Beauchêne, coordinator of the SOLidarité femmeS Loire-Atlantique association.

Psychological violence is in fact violence.

It is in this sense and to invite potentially victimized people to become aware of what they are going through, that the violentmeter» at the end of 2018 by the Observatories of violence against women of Seine-Saint-Denis and Paris, the association En avant tout(s) and the City of Paris. According to a certain progressiveness in the seriousness of the facts, it shows that psychological violence – be it denigration, manipulation, control of SMS or emails, excessive jealousy or even blackmail or harassment – ​​is indeed violence.

The absence of physical harm does not mean the absence of violence. This verbal and/or psychological violence, which in itself is serious, can also lead to physical and/or sexual violence according to a slippery slope principle known to those working on the issue.

The violent meter, a self-assessment tool developed by various associations that fight against violence against women. | Screenshot via seinesaintdenis.fr

Barely twelve years ago this psychological violence entered the penal code; now they are punished in the same way as physical violence. “In Law, It’s Yesterday”discusses Louiza Amhis, court attorney.

It should be remembered that in the eyes of the Penal Code, violence exists when one or more acts are committed that are likely to cause the victim an attack against their physical integrity (mutilation, disability, even death) or psychic integrity (emotional shock, psychic disorder ).

The Penal Code now provides in its article 222-33-2-1: “The act of harassing your spouse, your partner bound by a civil agreement of solidarity or your partner through repeated expressions or behaviors that have the purpose or effect of deteriorating their living conditions that produces an alteration of their physical or mental health , is punishable by three years in prison and a fine of 45,000 euros when these acts have caused total incapacity for work of less than or equal to eight days or have not produced incapacity for work and five years in prison and a fine of 75,000 euros when they have caused total incapacity for work incapacity for work of more than eight days or has been committed with the presence and assistance of a minor.

The reiteration of the facts is not a condition sine qua non

Furthermore, the repetition of the facts is not necessarily a condition sine qua non for the infringement. Indeed, the article 222-14-3 of the criminal code Regarding intentional attacks on the integrity of the person and violence, it states: “The violence provided for in the provisions of this article is sanctioned whatever its nature, even if it is psychological violence.”

However, this acknowledgment of psychological violence often remains only symbolic. “There is some difficulty in proving the facts when physical injuries are not seen, explains Louisa Amhis. In addition, the family chamber always benefits the abuser. It notes, however, a progressive improvement in the consideration of this psychological violence, and in particular of temporary incapacity for work (ITT) that allows classifying the acts as crimes and assessing their seriousness and the damage suffered.

The order of protection to be quickly safe

The truth is that the procedures are sometimes long and that, given the difficulty of proving the violence, the victim may find himself helpless and in danger. That’s why Louiza Amhis invites you to go with him to capture the family law judge to get a protection order. This civil procedure, for which the judge must rule within six days, is based on the likelihood of the reported facts, as stipulated article 515-11 of the civil code: “The protection order is issued by the family judge, if he considers, in view of the elements produced before him and contradictorily debated, that there are well-founded reasons to consider the commission of the alleged acts of violence probable and the danger to which expose. the victim is exposed.”

This protection order allows the victim to be put in safety, as well as the child or children of the couple. Indeed, the judge can temporarily grant measures such as evicting the perpetrator of the violence from the partner’s home, prohibiting him from receiving or meeting with the victim and/or children, prohibiting him from going to certain places where the victim usually goes… In addition Failure to comply with this order will have criminal consequences since failure to comply with the measures imposed constitutes a crime punishable by two years in prison and 15,000 euros.

Isolated slaps or repeated blows are physical violence

Of course, it is also possible to file a complaint and request a protection order for physical violence.“and even by hitting walls or objects, says Master Régine Bathelémy, lawyer in family law, people and their assets. There is no need for contact between the perpetrator and the victim.”

There will be those who feel tempted to differentiate the cases in which blows are exchanged in the context of a violent conflict within the couple, from those in which they occur in a context of control. But an act of physical violence is still an act of physical violence. And the fact that it is exercised by the spouse or ex-spouse is an aggravating circumstance, unlike the temptation to trivialize an isolated or supposedly isolated slap. The sentence will also depend here on the ITT number. The presence of a son of the couple in the events constitutes an additional aggravating circumstance and the son himself will be considered a victim, as reported. article 222-11 of the penal code.

Finally, the Penal Code provides specific sanctions for “habitual violence”, that is, for violence perpetrated on a regular, if not daily, basis.

Right-of-way context

specifies in article 222-14 that the “habitual violence committed” by “the spouse or partner of the victim or by the partner united to her by a civil pact of solidarity” They are punished with penalties ranging from five years in prison and a fine of 75,000 euros when they have not caused total incapacity for work for more than eight days, up to thirty years in prison when they have caused the death of the victim.

In a context of control, there is usually a conjunction with sexual violence but also with economic violence (control of expenses, withdrawal of the vital card, means of payment, prohibition of work). There are also means of pressure -economic, social, moral, etc.- that often make the victim feel (or feel) unable to leave the house.

French law is theoretically capable of protecting victims

Louise Delavier, program director of the association En avant tout(s) concludes: “In any act of violence there are always attempts to trivialize it, whether by the victim, the perpetrator or their environment. We must not trivialize these acts, nor think that they only occur on the margins of society. On the other hand, its complex and protean dimension should invite anyone who has doubts about the quality of their relationship to not be left alone when faced with these questions.

Today, although structural and administrative brakes still exist, French law is theoretically capable of protecting victims and punishing perpetrators of intimate partner violence. Undoubtedly, the most difficult thing is to recognize the seriousness of acts that society has tended to trivialize.

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