Case 35

Staying in an abusive relationship may risk a woman´s life

Objective: To show that by staying in an abusive relationship women may risk their life.

Narrative case:

Marie is 45 years old, married for the last 12 years with two children and has a very busy life with an interesting job. She seems very happy but unexpectedly told her family that she had left her husband and moved with the children to a flat and filed for divorce. The family is understandably upset: “ Is there another man? Is the husband unfaithful?”
Finally she admitted that her husband had beaten her for many years. Each time this had happened he told her that he is very sorry, it is the last episode and he offered her a gift or flowers. She thought that she was guilty of something and never spoke about this to her family. However, her husband became increasingly violent, sometimes pushing her out of the flat and closing the door so she was obliged to seek the help of her neighbours. She decided to go to the police to lodge a complaint against her husband but was still not ready to leave him [1]. One evening, she was taking a bath, her husband came into the bathroom and was very angry. He put his hands on her head and tried to drown her. She was really afraid. He stopped just before she fainted [2]. This time it was really too much and she finally managed to leave him, got a divorce and got custody of the children [3].

Learning points

  1. This woman needs help: she must talk to her family or to a close friend. She can get in contact with services and associations specialized in that kind of help and can ask for legal aid. However she needs to have proof such as an account from neighbours , medical certificate etc describing injuries. The law can then decide and make the violent spouse move away.
  2. A woman beaten by her husband is in danger of death: even if he does not want to really kill her   he can go too far
  3. A message to women is to never tolerate the first slap in the face, as it can be the beginning of more violence.

Background information

  • In France every three days a woman dies due to the violence of her husband, her partner or ex partner.
  • A national number can be called in France to get help 3919.


Reference :

Lutte contre les violences faites aux femmes – Grande Cause Nationale 2010 (the Great National Cause 2010 against violence against women)


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