On November 28, in the show “Seven to eight”, the singer and actress Camille Lellouche, 35, admitted to having lived “two years of hell”. Her former boyfriend, she said, subjected her to both physical and psychological violence from which she was only able to extricate herself after many months, by going to study in England. In her interview, she therefore urged young girls in similar situations “to go on the first try”. This particular story shed light on the situation of very young girls who are victims of domestic violence. A phenomenon which is all the more unrecognized as there is no public inquiry into underage couples. To gain insight into what adolescent girls experience, only retrospective studies of young adults are available. According to that of INED, in 2000, one in seven women, between the ages of 18 and 25, said they had already suffered domestic violence.
Contrary to popular belief, extreme youth is therefore not immune. “The profile of young girls who are victims resembles that of adult victims, they have little self-confidence, devalue themselves, but they also have their own vulnerabilities because they discover sexuality and have no idea what should be a healthy relationship ”, begins Mélanie Dupont, psychologist at the Hôtel-Dieu in Paris and president of the Center for Victimology for Minors (1). The couple arrive, in fact, without instructions and it is not always easy to pinpoint what is normal and what is not, in a world that sends contradictory messages. Young culture, particularly through rap, sometimes trivializes violence against women, but idealizes the couple. “From college, there is sometimes a huge pressure on the fact of having a boyfriend,” said Morgane Le Cloirec, respondent on the dedicated chat of the association En avant tout (s). In order to be “popular” or “like the others”, the youngest tend to make love stories last, even when they are toxic.
“Adolescence is an age when emotions are inordinate and, on an emotional level, everything is amplified. We are not yet very far from childhood, and some young girls see themselves a bit like princesses in love with their prince charming, ”continues Mélanie Dupont. Some, out of romanticism, undertake to save the boy from his demons, even if it means accepting too much. “I knew a young girl who said to me: ‘I only come across bad boys, because I tell myself that at least I would manage to get them out of that” “, again testifies the psychologist. Faced with this observation, those around them do not always give the alert. “The violent boyfriend is often manipulative and manages to pass himself off as the ideal son-in-law in the eyes of the parents”, observes Morgane Le Cloirec. In this hyperconnected generation, digital tools also offer numerous means of blackmailing “reputation”: dissemination of naked photos, cyberstalking, and so on. So many formidable weapons, at the age when “some young girls are desperate for their reputation”, completes the activist.
To help them, certain tools are nonetheless being developed, such as the “violentometer” distributed in Île-de-France and available online (2). On this kind of graduated rule, different everyday situations – “he blackmailed you if you refused to do something”, “he made fun of you in public” or “he searched your texts, your emails, your apps” – are ranked on a scale from green to red, from “Enjoy, your relationship is healthy” to “Danger, protect yourself, ask for help”. Thanks to this very simple tool, every teenage girl can assess whether what she is experiencing is acceptable or not. Parents have no other choice but vigilance and diplomacy. “In case of doubt, it is very counterproductive to criticize the boyfriend head-on. It is better to help the teenager to exercise her critical thinking, or ask a trusted loved one to explicitly address the problem”, advises Mélanie Dupont, who still warns: “Sometimes these are small adventures without consequence, but a hold is possible. “