At the moment I don’t have clients victimized by domestic violence in my practice in Paris. So going to the 2nd Annual International Forum on Domestic Violence recently came out of a longstanding want to better understand one of the worst types of relationship outcomes and life situation traps, that a poor woman and a man (to be pitied until the day comes when he stops all forms of abuse) could possibly encounter. It is true I wanted to learn what a woman in a mixed couple with a Frenchman, the most probable instance here in the Anglophone community, might face in the way of exit challenges. But as a child who knew domestic violence in my own home growing up, I admit to wanting new sensitivities to any dimension of the embodied ‘separation’ pain and reflection, that a woman contemplating leaving the man they had children with and to whom they once may have pledged their lives, including the brutal reality of starting over from scratch, encounters.
This is what I left with in terms of list of vigilance for women here in France :
– realize and connect with « what is going on »
– generate possible responses and choices
– safety plan including organizing the protection for the kids
– log the « proof » with visits to doctors, etc., ensuring the story has ‘punctuation and accumulation’
– conceptualize the leaving a violent relationship in the ‘long term’
– enlist your support – a friend, a family member – for help with finding shelter services, legal advice and represention, etc.
– if a woman worries about the police taking complaint of domestic abuse seriously, because of reasons of language or otherwise, go with a friend to go to the police
– judges might ask for expert scrutiny to assess trauma
– a « rappel à la loi » (i.e. ‘reminder of the law’) if that is what is handed to the accused, can be considered a ‘proof’ and ‘recognition’ of violence
– « la loi » (i.e. the law) is ‘difficile à mettre en œuvre’ (i.e. is hard to make ‘work’ the way it should) and there is much difference between judges in regards to application
My thoughts upon leaving the forum :
– It is criminal what a man forces a woman to go through just to be safe and secure
– It is human to be the damaged man, but, damaging others is not the human a man wants to be
– It is redeeming that occasionally a young, male ‘victimizing’ client presents with the desire to work on himself, so that he could 1) know and accept himself more 2) learn to communicate feelings more successfully (with his girlfriend) and 3) develop an expression of frustration and anger in safer and more healthier ways.
*The views expressed by our authors are personal opinions and do not necessarily reflect the views of the CCPA