"Dad killed mom. These words, Dr. Clémentine Rappaport often hear them, repeated by traumatized children, in his office at Robert-Ballanger Hospital, Aulnay-sous-Bois (Seine-Saint-Denis). An office filled with toys and stuffed animals, for toddlers who have experienced horror.
Head of the child psychiatry service, the practitioner runs the only unit in France dedicated to the care of child covicide femicide. "Clearly, the children who witnessed the murder of their mother by their father" summarizes Clémentine Rappaport, voice soft and posed. In France, at least 137 women have been killed by their spouses since the beginning of the year, three in the department of Seine-Saint-Denis.
Created in 2013 as part of the Feminicide Protocol, which aims to co-ordinate the police, justice and social services workers in marital murder cases, this device follows 28 children.
The first ones were welcomed in 2015. One evening in February, Adam, Lina, Isaac (the first names have been changed), 3, 4 and 5 years old, had seen their father stab their mother and grandmother. At the time, the investigators had explained to have found them stained with blood, between the body of "mother" and that of "granny".
Listening, relaxation and body therapy sessions
"Before our device, the children were immediately entrusted to who passed by: neighbors, family members more or less close. Without dedicated monitoring in child protection or psychology, "says Clémentine Rappaport. Result: significant behavioral disorders, and language.
With the Feminicide Protocol, the Bobigny Public Prosecutor's Office makes a decision to hospitalize toddlers, which takes effect as soon as the police enter the scene of the crime. "The police are responsible for building a keychain for the children: blanket, clothes, school bag. This is essential because they have just experienced the worst: their mother was killed by their father, he is imprisoned, they have no reference. This keychain serves as a cocoon for the future. Before, they left home in pajamas, with nothing else! "
Then, for three to eight days, the victims are hospitalized in pediatrics, in Aulnay-sous-Bois and surrounded 24 hours a day. The time to evaluate who will be able to welcome them – relatives or host family.
The children are then received, once or twice a week, by Dr. Rappaport and his team. Listening sessions, relaxation, body therapy, "hard to cash" for staff.
"They talk about death"
There is this four-year-old who plays with a doll the drama scene with his words. Or this baby who expresses his malaise with rashes. "Children do not go through four ways: to kill is to kill. They talk about death, reminds the practitioner. The repetitive aspect of their game reflects the trauma. "
For which results? "The evolution of children in psychological care is favorable, says the doctor. Evidenced by the excellent academic results of our first three small patients. "
Titanic work led … without financial assistance, in addition to the 220 children followed in classic child psychiatry. Yet a year ago, Agnès Buzyn, Minister of Health, and Marlene Schiappa, Secretary of State for Gender Equality, had come to Robert-Ballanger to extol the merits of this feminicide protocol.