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“The influence itself is not reprehensible.” how does justice treat the phenomenon?

INTERVIEW:- Does the law allow you to define and prove impact? Although the term may seem vague, courts have been trying to put a legal framework on it for several years, albeit with difficulty. For Madame FigaroFamily law lawyer Sophie Soubiran sheds light on a complex but burning phenomenon.

It’s a term we hear everywhere now. Vanessa Springora already mentioned this in her book in 2020 Consent. Later, Judith Kemla and Judith Godrech would also use it to better describe and denounce the violence of their former relationships. On February 22, Isild Le Bescot used it in turn Parisian , about her union with director Benoit Jaco. This term is “control,” a concept that is both vague and yet so relevant that it would consist of gaining dominance over someone; But what exactly does this word mean?

The issue divides and inflames debates. Some talk about manipulation, domination, while others minimize the neologism, simply calling for the passion of feelings. But if everyone can try to qualify the phenomenon and draw its contours on the terrace of a cafe according to their beliefs, boundaries and their own morals, the legal framework in turn provides a better framework for its definition. Is the impact really perceptible, quantifiable and definable in law? Reprehensible and reprehensible? Maître Soubiran, who initiated the training of lawyers at the Paris Bar on the mechanisms of domestic violence, replied: Madame Figaro to better understand the meaning of this term and its usage.

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Madame Figaro: Last December, Judith Godrech highlighted the phenomenon of control within the couple. Let’s remind that the actress condemned her relationship with film director Benoit Jaco, when she was 15 years old and he was 40. This term is widely used in the public sphere today. And what about the legal field?
Sophie Soubiran. – There is no legal definition, but we talk about control when two people are no longer equal, when one has dominance over the other. This can be evidenced by several things: messages of guilt, humiliation, isolation. On the part of the victim: loss of productivity at work, frequent sick leave, weight loss, loss of self-confidence, etc. In fact, we will be able to talk about control when a person no longer has free will. the face of his situation, nor room to maneuver in the relationship. Control is the establishment of total dominance over another.

Is control considered abuse?
Legally, no. But it is a tool that can inflict violence, be it psychological or physical. It depends if you prefer. Understanding influence means understanding the climate and why a person responded in the way they did to certain situations. Unfortunately, in cases involving violence against women, the focus is reversed, and establishing control means better understanding the apparent contradictions.

In other words.
In an assault case such as a robbery or street violence, the judge rarely questions the victim’s behavior. On the other hand, in the case of sexual harassment or violence within the couple, this will be examined: how did he react, did he say no, did he scream? In the same way, when we want to arrange the children’s residence or we want to request a protective order, we will ask ourselves why she did not refuse her husband to manage her bank account. Why did she send him a loving message when she accuses him of verbally abusing her and her child? Why didn’t he tell his family or friends? Why not leave when the children were in danger? Considering the mechanism of control means answering these questions and trying to refocus the legal debate on what is essentially the aggression suffered.

Writing about domestic violence

Is the term influence legislated?
No, it is not defined by law. He gradually takes this into account, but it is not condemnable in itself. The concept of influence always comes in addition to other elements. For while it may exist without violence, it is rarely stagnant. As we said, it is the preparation of an entire climate that will become more and more hostile to man over time, often causing physical, sexual and psychological attacks. Requesting this element could allow courts to better judge assaults and protect victims and their children.

Since when is justice interested in influence?
In the Civil Code, we started talking about the control of domestic violence during the last Grenell in 2019. Why? Because when two parents separate, the justice system goes to family mediation before deciding the dispute. However, when there is control within the couple, mediation cannot work. It is even dangerous. And, of course, this often extends to children as well, who become a means of pressure and are exploited. Control as such does not appear in the Criminal Code, but it has been almost ten years since psychological violence has been legislated in the same way as physical attacks. They are an integral part of offenses and crimes punishable by law (fine and imprisonment). And here again things are quite combined, when there is psychological violence, there is often control. We ask that it support that point.

What do we mean by psychological violence?
Like impact, we need to understand all of this in some global way. Anyone can one day have an outburst of anger, make a scene of jealousy with their partner, lie. Just like power relations, they exist everywhere in society. But there are behaviors that abuse this power, that hinder the freedom of others, bring them into a violent atmosphere, and this becomes reprehensible. Harassment, repeated insults, threats of suicide, lack of consent, even within a couple, emotional blackmail, all these add up to real psychological torture.

A set of tips

How do we prove all this?
There is what we call the UMJ, the Medico-Judicial Division. When there is a complaint, victims are usually seen by psychologists and psychiatrists to give them a preliminary analysis of their psychological state. We will also be able to collect evidence. What we call, by law, a set of clues: trifles, oddities, or extravagances that, in the end, will shed light on the context. We will collect testimonies from relatives for insults and insults, in order to record the scenes they will witness, the same for isolation. Physical and mental degradation is often observed due to weight loss, frequent interruptions in happiness or work.

Today we also have written exchanges, which are very valuable. You must know the difference between violence and conflict. We can understand the mechanics of the argument. two people opposing their opinions, very different, of course, but where everyone expresses themselves. Disputes are not punishable by law. In violence, we will see the opposite, that the lady never responds, for example, to sms and receives tons of insults and threats. We will notice that as soon as he expresses his opinion, the gentleman loses his patience and does everything to silence and humiliate him. The result may be that he no longer dares to express himself anywhere as a person. Those around him will also often belittle him, he appears isolated. Justice therefore exists to bring all these elements together and shed light on a situation that is more serious than it appears. Often physical violence ends all this, and the victim then finds the strength to file a complaint and leave.

Does all this evidence really lead to convictions?
If even we have elements, what is easily perceived, for example, bruises, will always be collected better. This is a real problem because we know today that psychological abuse is latent and often more destructive in the long run than physical abuse. And if in theory the law does not distinguish between physical and psychological violence, then in practice it is more difficult to demonstrate it. Getting good support from your attorney in your efforts is important.

For what ?
Because it is very rare that an unaided victim manages to collect all the evidence I just quoted you. Moreover, the first thing to remember is that filing a complaint to condemn what is happening at home is not easy. Not a week goes by that my clients don’t talk to me about their fears, their guilt, their hesitations, even though they are victims of very serious things. I think we don’t realize enough how long, trying and expensive the procedure can be. You are told that you must make all your allegations factually, but this is often difficult. Yes, it can be proven, but then we’d almost have to predict it, something we don’t think about when we’re in a position of survival in a toxic and destructive relationship. You are told that you have to provide for your children’s daily life by taking screenshots of every exchange with your ex-husband, asking for certificates… in short, it takes time and a lot of energy to create a legal file. Normally this is the job of the investigators, but they are too busy for that. So you need to get good support.

What do you say to those who talk about impact as a feeling of love that is specific to each story?
That there are nuances everywhere. I’m not saying it can’t exist, but in practice very few victims will ask for protection or file a complaint unless the situation is already very serious.

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Source: Le Figaro

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