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French domestic violence cases soar during coronavirus lockdown

In the first week of France’s coronavirus lockdown, authorities reported a more than 30 percent rise in the country’s domestic violence cases. Although the government has put a number of measures in place to make it easier for victims to report such abuses, few seem to have taken advantage of them so far. FRANCE 24 reports.

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For four years, this woman* suffered emotional and sexual abuse at the hands of her partner. The abuse was so bad that she considered taking her own life.

“I felt like there was no way out. I thought about jumping out the window,” she tearfully tells FRANCE 24 as she recounts her ordeal, adding “he was always there”.

But in the weeks running up to France’s March 17 lockdown to halt the spread of the coronavirus, she finally mustered up enough courage to leave her abuser.

She was lucky. Since the lockdown went into force, French domestic violence cases have risen by over 30 percent. The sharp rise in the numbers has resulted in the government putting a number of measures in place to try to make it easier for domestic abuse victims to raise the alarm. Temporary support centres have been set up outside supermarkets and pharmacists have been given guidelines to be able to advise domestic abuse victims who come to them for help. The government has also agreed to pay 20,000 overnight stays in hotels and shelters for victims who decide to leave their partners during the lockdown period.

But reporting an abuser during lockdown can be complicated.

“At the moment we’re hardly receiving any calls. Today I haven’t received a single one,” Audrey, a social worker who works with domestic abuse victims, says.

“Those who do call us, tell us it’s not easy to find the right time. Because they’re not always alone and sometimes their partner is at home.”

To watch the full report, please click on the player above.

*The woman interviewed by FRANCE 24 asked to remain anonymous.