Psychological violence: what are we talking about?

“Behaviours likely to break the moral health of women. » It is with these words that, on the set of “C à vous” on France 5 on September 19, the ecologist deputy Sandrine Rousseau defined the psychological violence of which a woman confided to her to be the victim and of which Julien Bayou would be at the ‘origin. Facts, which, according to her, are however not “criminally reprehensible”.

On Wednesday October 26, several former companions of the former national secretary of EELV testified, in a long investigation by the pure-player Reporterre, an investigation site specializing in ecology, of difficult relations with him, taking up this notion of emotional abuse or controlling behavior. “He played with my memory, on what he told me, on what I had heard”, explains one of his former companions. No complaint has been filed and no judicial inquiry has been opened, but the EELV unit against violence against women has taken up the case.

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Threats, insults, humiliations…

But what are we talking about when we talk about psychological violence? “Violence can be constituted, apart from any contact with the body of the victim, by an act or behavior likely to cause harm to the physical or psychological integrity of the victim, characterized by an emotional shock or a disturbance psychological », quotes to the “Obs” Sophie Allaert, lawyer at the Paris bar, specializing in violence against women. Moreover, the Penal Code specifies that the repressed violence includes all violence, whatever its nature, in particular psychological violence. In concrete terms, psychological violence is a mechanism used by the aggressor to gain the upper hand and dominate his victim.

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“You can fit in a lot of things”explains M.e Allaert, mentioning pell-mell “someone who yells at you, someone who belittles you or humiliates you, someone who threatens or blackmails you…” Psychological violence is not the result of simple disputes within the couple, she specifies, but of behavior with the intention of committing the crime of violence, causing a feeling of fear in the victim, who feels threatened in his or her life. physical or mental integrity.

The difficulty of proving

The Penal Code does not distinguish between different forms of violence. “Often, in the couple, there is both psychological violence and physical violence. It’s a gradation, it starts with insults, threats, then blows.emphasizes Sophie Allaert.

Psychological violence is considered like other forms of domestic violence. As with physical violence, proof must be provided. “Domestic violence is always very hard to prove, because it occurs in private. Proof is all the more difficult to provide in the context of psychological violence since it leaves no “visible” traces. Unless you have witnesses, they are difficult to see. » To demonstrate the intentional element, the lawyer evokes the possibility of collecting testimonies, filming the violence and having professionals note the deterioration in her state of health.

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Psychological violence within a couple is therefore ” in theory “ treated and punished in the same way as physical violence. “If they have resulted in more than eight days of ITT (total incapacity for work), the violence exposes the attacker to five years in prison and a fine of 75,000 euros. If it is below or equal to eight, the attacker risks three years in prison and a fine of 45,000 euros. »

“Not the priority”

Still, according to the lawyer, these sanctions are still rare. “Sexist and sexual violence is simply not the priority, neither of justice nor of the police. And when we speak “only” of psychological violence, it is even worse”she regrets.

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And to cite for example the length of the procedures. “Complaints for moral harassment or psychological violence can last for years and too often lead to a dismissal. I have already witnessed several times cases where the victims were not seen by the doctor in charge of defining the days of ITT until a year after having filed a complaint…”

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