“It starts with a slap”: this gesture is an alarming symptom of domestic violence, point out associations and experts, but it is still too often minimized by the general public.
Figure of the young guard of La France insoumise (LFI), Adrien Quatennens admitted to having “given a slap” to his wife, “in a context of extreme tension and mutual aggressiveness”. The deputy, who is under investigation, was put this week “withdrawn from his parliamentary work” by the LFI group in the Assembly.
Since then, the case has been widely commented on on social networks. For many Internet users, it is not a serious act, as rape can be; others believe that an “exceptional slap” during a conflict between spouses has “nothing to do” with domestic violence. Many Internet users, however, were indignant at the act and the reactions of support for the deputy.
Liliane Daligand, psychiatrist, notes that a slap remains “an essential attack” on the person. “Victims often say that it starts with a slap or a push, then the physical violence worsens”, explains to AFP this specialist, also president of an association to help women in the Lyon area.
According to the “violence meter”, a violence awareness tool used by associations and communities, “you are in danger” when your partner “pushes you, pulls you, slaps you (…)”. This violentometer is in the form of a graduated scale, from green to red, which makes it possible to identify the signs of a violent relationship. Physical gestures are classified in red.
“Any act of physical violence is serious and inadmissible,” said Françoise Brié, director general of the National Federation of Women’s Solidarity (FNSF), which manages the 3919 telephone reception service for women victims of violence.
Rarely an “isolated act”
The passage to the act of physical violence, which often occurs when a woman decides to leave her partner, “can paralyze her” and thus prevent her from starting the process. “A single crisis of physical violence can generate a terror that pushes women to adapt to the injunctions of the aggressor so as not to suffer further physical violence”, explains Françoise Brié.
On the contrary, this sometimes leads the victim to seek help from an association or to report the act to the police.
Because a slap “is rarely an isolated act”, abounds to AFP Magali Mazuy, researcher at the National Institute for Demographic Studies (INED), specializing in gender violence. It “is part of a continuum” of verbal and psychological violence.
“When there is physical violence, there is also generally denigration, control of outings or relations with relatives, for example, even a climate of fear established by the perpetrators of violence”, describes the sociologist.
The lack of indignation of some in the face of cases like the one involving Adrien Quatennens can be explained, according to her, by a “trivialization of violence”.
Same observation for Fabienne El-Khoury, co-spokesperson for the association Dare feminism: “We see slaps in films, in humorous sketches, it shows that society trivializes violence”.
Violence against women in particular “is so commonplace that we no longer spot them”, laments Fabienne El-Khoury, although the subject has been imposed on the public debate in recent years. In question in particular according to her: “the pornographic culture” which represents some as “women-objects” and men as dominators.