1:30 p.m. on a rainy Saturday in February. Hair squared, in her sixties, Michele at the wheel of her 307 turns in the commercial area of Châteaulin, in search of the right address. Because of the Covid-19, it was necessary to give up the room usually loaned by the town hall. “I told myself that at worst we would do that in a hangar”, she comments as she walks past the Lidl. “But even with blankets we would have been cold, so I called the parish. “ Finally, the Juvénat Notre-Dame appears. Cream concrete, prison style, Alcatraz at the bottom of Finistère.
There are already seven of them upstairs in a classroom with grapefruit walls. The participants of the support group greet each other, happy, relieved even to meet again for the first time since October. Gauthier (1) smiles: “We’re like a veterans club”. On her arm, Delphine (1), 32, matched her necklace to her dark green dress. Her look has changed since she filed a lawsuit against her stepfather in 2018. Last summer, she shaved the left side of her head (“An old desire”). In February, she ordered new glasses. Large frames, patterns, the “visible” kind, nothing to do with the metal temples “Hyperdiscreet” that she preferred before.
→ INVESTIGATION. Incest: the stifled words of the victims
A thick silence settles. The participants were seated on school chairs. Everyone stands upright, as if in expectation, while Michèle reminds them of the rules. No more than three minutes per speaking, no comment, no judgment. Follow as much as possible the theme of the day, stated on a sheet that passes from hand to hand: “Incest turns everything upside down. Your confidence in life and in others has been damaged. How did you manage your relationships? “
“My dog and my horses”
The youngest of the group starts. Maria (1) is 21 years old. In her childhood, she was assaulted by three cousins, “And potentially by a great-grandfather”. She is not sure. “I was on my own, so I developed a survival instinct. “ His hands are shaking. She tells how, as a child, she got into the habit of taking refuge on her grandparents’ farm. “In the end, there are only animals that I could trust. “ Sitting next to her, Anaïs (1) has a sad smile: “The only ones I felt safe with were my dog and my horses. “
Michèle speaks in turn. “I am the mother of an incest victim. There are those who have listened to their child, who are fighting, but I didn’t see anything. I will never be able to fix what my son went through. ” She may have been running the support group and giving interviews since January, all these “Things that those who trust themselves do”, she hardly believes it. Michele feels “Cut into pieces” : part of her is traumatized by what her son has suffered. She knows she has to distinguish between responsibility and guilt, “So as not to be completely screwed up. “
→ TESTIMONIALS. Incest, talk to rebuild
Silence falls, as after each testimony. It is not a conversation. Everyone following the others, without necessarily bouncing back on what has been said before, shares their experiences and their emotions. Words are greeted with nods, smiles, or deep sighs.
“In fact, I have the balls”, loose Delphine. “ I have always trusted my siblings tremendously, I thought they would always have been there for me, but they turned their backs on me… and I miss them. I just want them to be there for me, to believe me. I’m sick of fighting all the time. “ Anaïs is crying. Ever since she spoke, her brother has acted as if she no longer existed. Michèle understands it: “It’s hard to mourn people who are still alive. “
→ VIDEO. Sexual violence: what is incest?
Silence, again. Michèle looks at the time. Finally the break: “ The cow is not laughing today! “ Great sighs of relief suddenly fill the room. The shoulders sag, the tension is released. “It’s been a while since we last saw each other, we needed it”, Delphine breathes. Maria regains control of her hands: “We have been cut off so much that even physically, it feels like talking. “
We spin a packet of madeleine while chatting. Anaïs recounts a misadventure with a lawyer. Next door, a shrink takes it for his rank. “Therapeutic wandering”, from one practice to another, is the common lot of those who are there. “The support group does not replace therapy, emphasizes Michèle, but there is a lack of trained people, and this is not always reimbursed. In Brittany, we don’t even have a regional psycho-trauma center. “
The break ends, silence returns. On their chairs, the members of the group seem to be snorkeling. The second part is devoted to things or people that help to trust. “ Michele, I trust him, launches Delphine. This is where I learned to listen to what I feel. It was here that I realized that I was not crazy. “
4:30 pm The group said goodbye to each other in the parking lot. Michèle is back on the road. She has been leading these meetings of the association “Le monde à un regard” for three years now. “ At first I did not feel legitimate, I was not a victim, but the members of the support group I frequented before told me that it did them good to have a mother there. “ It was in the Sarthe, five hours away, but it was worth it. “ Finding others like you… It was as if I had reintegrated humanity. “
→ OUR FILE. Incest, conquer the silence