Life Style

Child victims of incest, the cycle of silence

It’s an extraordinary story, a new earthquake caused by a book, a few months after the release of Vanessa Springora’s, The consent. This January 7, Camille Kouchner publishes at the Editions du Seuil La Familia grande, a story in which she accuses her stepfather, Olivier Duhamel, of having raped her twin brother when he was 13 years old. Since then, the Paris prosecutor’s office has opened an investigation for “rape and sexual assault”. The political scientist had previously terminated all of his functions in the media and at Sciences-Po. “Being the object of personal attacks, and wishing to preserve the institutions in which I work, I put an end to my functions”, he wrote on Twitter.

→ READ. Political scientist Olivier Duhamel resigns from all his functions

Over the pages, the 45-year-old tells the story of this blended family unlike any other. She tells the carefree life of an easy life, after the divorce of her parents, the former Minister of Foreign Affairs Bernard Kouchner and his first wife Évelyne Pisier, the meeting of the latter with this first funny and attentive stepfather. .

Incest, a crime very present, including among the elites

But it also tells of a descent into hell. Camille Kouchner denounces the actions of the one she presents as an executioner who knew how to make himself so sympathetic to everyone. Over the pages, it shows above all that incest, a fundamental prohibition in all societies, remains a crime very present today, including among the elites.

Another story, that of Mathilde Brasilier, confirms this. She is the daughter and the victim of Jean Brasilier, famous architect, first Grand Prix de Rome in 1957. Recognized and celebrated artist, resident at the Villa Medici from 1957 to 1962, he raped his two youngest children – “His two” little princes “, as he called us”, she says – from the age of 5 to 10. Mathilde Brasilier’s brother, Fabien, ended his life at the age of 24.

“These are people who know how to make themselves untouchable”

Mathilde Brasilier has a precise idea of ​​how incest works and of its violence. She has also met some members of the Kouchner family in recent months to support them. “It must be understood that this tragedy does not only affect the most disadvantaged, far from it, she begins. In certain cases, the notoriety, the professional success of the man is also his protection. These are people who know how to make themselves untouchable, through their relationships, through their charm too. No one can fight. In my own family, it’s a carnage: two of my cousins ​​have committed suicide, others are under the influence of alcohol. The force of destruction is enormous and can affect anyone. “

This is also the observation of sociologist Pierre Verdrager, author of a reference work on pedophilia. “For a long time, incest was made a question of social misery, the act of drunkards who slept indifferently with their wives or their children in total promiscuity. This is, in large part, false. Incest is not the product of a lack of education or culture. “

A question of power

What is playing out in this intimate drama? Psychiatrist Muriel Salmona says straight away that it should not be seen as a question of desire, sexuality, but simply power and destruction. “Incest is a form of sexual violence, all of which has in common a desire to destroy. “ According to her, the family provides ideal prey for the predator. “They start with the people they have on hand: their wives, but also their children. “

However, if it does not have a nature of its own, this form of violence is presented as the most successful because no escape is offered in the closed family. Behind closed doors, it is particularly difficult for the youngest to escape their tormentor. First of all, by their very immaturity, they do not fully understand what is going on. Then, they often remain walled in a shameful silence.

Especially since they do not necessarily find help, including from their mother. Muriel Salmona deciphers again: “The family is very hierarchical, between parents who educate on one side, and children on the other. Also, it quickly becomes a zone of lawlessness and danger as to its head there is a dictator, because he distributes the roles within the group: on the one hand, those who are worth nothing, on the other, those who are on his side. Also, some women prefer to adhere to the almighty vision of their spouse to keep value in his eyes, rather than protect their child. Especially since it is very difficult to protect a child against a tyrant: when a woman decides to do so, she finds herself condemned, as evidenced by the frequency, in these families, of domestic violence. “

“Trying to safeguard family cohesion”

In the same way, analyzes Isabelle Aubry, president of the association Face à l’inceste (ex-Aivi), as soon as the entourage is aware, he prefers to take the side of the executioner for fear of shattering cohesion family. According to a survey carried out among members of the association, 80% of them would have been ordered to be silent.

Pierre Verdrager nevertheless wants to remain confident, because mentalities are changing. “The growing place of women in society is a reality. They reach positions of responsibility, are elected, enter governments and then deal with these intimate questions with their own sensitivity. This is very clear when we look at the development of child protection legislation in recent years. “

Thus, the child is no longer considered as a simple witness of domestic violence but as a full victim. “Since the creation of the defender of children, they have a voice to defend them when their parents refuse to do it for them”, notes the sociologist François de Singly.

Similarly, until 2017, the case of Olivier Duhamel would not have been treated as a case of presumed incest, because at the time the stepfather did not exist in the eyes of the law. “The aggravating circumstance of incest did not apply to the step-parent, confirms François de Singly. Now we understand better that breaking the relationship of trust between adults and children must also be punished, and we have extended the notion of incest to people who are not united by blood ties. , to better protect the child. “


Incest in France

Few official data and studies were conducted on the phenomenon which therefore remains surrounded by a statistical vagueness. However, the Virage survey published by INED last November provides a first overview of this scourge.

Just over 4% of women and a little less than 1% of men believe they have suffered, in childhood, sexual violence within the family and the immediate environment. “This violence is therefore at an important level”, estimates INED.

This incestuous violence nevertheless remain behind psychological violence (14% of women believe they have suffered at least one in childhood, against 9.5% of men) and physical violence cited by 8% of women and 7% of men.


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