“Many knew and most acted as if nothing had happened“This is how Camille Kouchner describes the taboo surrounding the incest of which her twin brother was victim.
In his work La Familia Grande she reveals that for more than two years, her stepfather Olivier Duhamel would have invited himself to her stepson’s bedroom. The facts date back to the late 1980s.
However, it is only at the beginning of 2021 that the case becomes public, almost thirty years later. For Patricia Chalon, psychologist and editor-in-chief of the journal Childhood Capital Letter, several mechanisms explain the omerta around incest.
Read also : “It must be said that we do not touch a child. Point, finished! “
Preserving the image of the family
“For fear of damaging their reputation, family members often decide to keep quiet about the violence. Look at the Duhamel affair, his wife knew but she didn’t say anything. She chose to defend her husband, and therefore, the image of their family. ”
Like violence against women, incest is based on a logic of control. The incestuous parent reassures his child, assures him that “all parents do that”, That we should not talk about it. The parent uses his status as “protective”To establish its hold and protect its secret.
“If the facts of incest take a long time to find out, it is also because it is not easy for a child to understand that one of his parents is harming him. We keep telling children that the danger is outside, that we should not talk to strangers, but we do not warn them about the risks that come from inside”, Regrets Patricia Chalon.
Read also : Where does incest begin?
Mobilize the school system
Since victims are not safe at home, it is necessary to be able to help them outside the family home. But you still have to be able to spot them. In his podcast Or maybe one night, journalist Charlotte Pudlowski makes an edifying observation. “Sin a class of thirty, two to three children are victims of incest”, Says the journalist.
At school, the subject of incest is not (if ever) mentioned. “There is a belief that if we talk about this topic to children who are not concerned, they will be traumatized. So we don’t talk about it”, Regrets Patricia Chalon.
However, it is at school that victims can find help. Sometimes, when the psychologist intervenes in establishments to talk about violence against children, the tongues are loosened. Students come to see her after class, to confide.
“I think that if teachers and doctors asked their patients or students the question of violence, they would be appalled by the extent of this problem.”Says the psychologist who wants these professionals to be better trained in these questions.
A slow realization
Already in the 1990s, Patricia Chalon published a video clip to alert on incest. “What jumps out at me is that despite its Has been production, this clip is still relevant today. We have been warning about this subject for over thirty years … ”
Today, incest is written into the penal code as an aggravating circumstance for rape or sexual assault. It does not constitute an offense on its own. To speak of incest, it is therefore necessary to first prove that there was rape or sexual assault, a demonstration which is not always obvious due to lack of evidence.
The gray area around consent
A legal problem this time around may explain the blockages that prevent incest victims from being recognized. Like Facing incest, many associations claim that the hypothetical consent of the victim is never examined. “The laws on sexual assault obscure a crucial point: that of traumatic amnesia“, recalls Arnaud Gallais, president of the Enfant Present association. Indeed, a victim may need many years to remember what she has experienced. This is why activists demand that sexual crimes against minors ( e) s are imprescriptible.
Despite the many requests from child protection professionals, the law is struggling to change. In 2018, a bill led by Marlène Schiappa was to introduce the notion of presumption of non-consent for victims under the age of 15.
But after consulting the Council of State, the law was not adopted in these terms. It is therefore always necessary to prove that a child under the age of 15 did not have the necessary discernment to understand what he was going through. Another legal brake for victims.
An administrative and legal slowness that Patricia Chalon regrets. However, the psychologist underlines a positive point: “tongues are loosening, little by little people are speaking! Now it’s up to us to help these people.“
Like Camille Kouchner’s book, the stories of victims of sexual assault have multiplied for several years. A necessary freedom of speech which testifies to the extent of the problem in our societies.