victims testify in Lille

The Independent Commission on Incest and Child Sexual Abuse (Ciivise), launched in March 2021, is currently touring France. Every year, 160,000 children are sexually abused. La Ciivise has already collected more than 8,000 testimonies by post, email, telephone or at public meetings. Last week, she was in Lille where the interventions were overwhelming.

How not to notice this very elegant woman, blond, dressed all in pink, mask included, seated in the middle of the dark wooden amphitheater of the School of Journalism of Lille. Neither too far nor too close members of the ciivise who, in this cozy atmosphere, have been listening attentively to the various interventions for more than an hour and a quarter.

The meeting is slowly coming to an end when Pascale, 54, gets up. “ I just found out that I was abused by my father from age 3 to 10-11,” she says, her voice broken by emotion, before explaining why to travel the 110 km which separate Waterloo in Belgium where she lives, from Lille is “a great victory and a very big symbol “. Agoraphobic for three years, she no longer dares to leave her home. “ It’s the first time I’ve made such an important journey. “, she admits to the applause of the room. The first time also that she tells her story in public.

For more than 40 years, Pascale, a victim of traumatic amnesia, has completely forgotten these rapes. ” I’ve had phobias for 20 years. The fear of swallowing, of going out, of being in a tunnel… The fear of everything ! I did not know why. Today I know “, she confides to RFI.

I never could have imagined that my father would do such a thing

Three years ago, because these phobias were becoming really too intrusive, Pascale decided to seek help. Then begin ” an obstacle course to find competent professionals, and a long and painful work on herself. One “ hell “, she insists. Until it all came back to him, three months ago. One “ tsunami falls on Pascale. “ Everything collapses. I never could have imagined that my father would do such a thing “.

Today, the Belgian is a little better. “ I manage to take the train, not the metro. I haven’t yet been able to resume my job as a teacher, which I loved, however, because I have very strong bodily reminiscences every day. I suffer from dissociations, so I lose touch with reality a bit. I’m moving slowly, but I’m moving forward. Anyway, I found hope », smiles Pascale. “ The fact of having spoken this evening, it was to take an additional step towards the acceptance of this horror “.

Breaking a taboo

For Clothilde too, speaking in front of the Ciivise was beneficial. “ It did me a lot of good. I feel lighter.” This 22-year-old student, assaulted by her brother when she was 8, testified “to be heard and to free speech “. His parents, however aware, never did anything. “ Why didn’t they take the time to listen to me and my sister ? Why didn’t they take us to the gendarmerie to talk about it, not necessarily so that my brother goes to court and goes to prison ? These are questions I ask myself, but I can’t manage to ask them. We laugh at Christmas. We act as if nothing had happened. But my goal is really to talk to them about it so that we stop pretending “, Details the young woman to RFI.

They call me crazy, a liar when I’m just trying to protect my daughter

In addition to the silence that persists within some families, other testimonies point to the culpable inaction of the authorities. A grandmother says that no investigation was carried out following the complaint filed because her grandchildren were attacked by the husband of their nanny. 70% of complaints are dismissed and there are barely 1,000 convictions per year for 160,000 victims. A father evokes him, the silence of the National Education. A woman explains that her shrink advised her against filing a complaint against her brother. “ But you have not thought about it ? You will ruin his life ! he told her.

Finally, several mothers say they are forced to entrust their daughter to their ex-spouse accused of incest because they are not believed, neither they nor their children. ” They call me crazy, a liar when I’m just trying to protect my daughter “explains one of them. Justice demands proof.

However, generally, the only thing we have is the word of the child. Hence the importance of knowing how to audition them correctly, respecting appropriate protocols as in Canada, explains Nathalie Mathieu, director general of theAssociation Doctors Bru and co-president of La Civiise. “ In this kind of business, 99% of the children do not lie “, she wishes to underline. “ Our barometer must be the child’s fear. Fear is never faked “, adds the judge Edouard Durand, co-president of the Commission.

At the Jean Bru shelter, which offers specific care for children who have suffered from domestic sexual violence, in Agen, on December 10, 2020.

Define good practices

In Lille, that evening, in a few testimonies, were brushed all the flaws of a system that the Ciivise intends to correct. To each, the members of the Commission respond: “ We believe you. You can count on us to do everything we can to change that. “. The Ciivise has until the beginning of 2023 to formulate recommendations concerning prevention, identification of cases, listening to victims, medical care and police and judicial treatment.

But she has already emitted a first opinion in October which was heard by the government. From February 1, before initiating proceedings for non-presentation of a child, the justice system will have to verify the allegations of the parent who accuses the other of incest. A first step forward, but so many more are needed.

To reach the Ciivise, the line 0805 802 804 is open from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Another number, 0800 100 811, is adapted to Overseas timetables.