France Mission Update-Domestic Violence Counseling
I just wanted to send you an update regarding my domestic violence and sexual assault counseling. Everything is going very well and I feel like I am reaching people where they are and helping them make vital decisions for their safety and emotional well-being. It has been a real joy to work with the mayor and his team. I feel that they truly care about abused women. I am also happy to announce that another facility like the one I worked with last year, Nouvelle Olympe, will be opening up in September and there will once again be full-time workers and counselors available to help women in domestic violence and sexual assault situations. I am very happy that the women of Saint-Raphael will once again have the total support they need.
Today, while at the town hall, I made an appointment with Mrs. Dumont, one of the assistants to the mayor of Saint-Raphael, to discuss with her the current domestic violence protective order in France. The current law provides a woman facing domestic violence four months of protection from her abuser. The woman is protected by the police and the courts should the offender violate the protective order. Ever since I started learning about French law regarding domestic violence last summer, this particular law hasn’t been sitting right with me. This protective order gives an option to renew, but by the time you go through all the paperwork, you almost have to start on the second protective order as soon as you have finished the first in order to get continuous protection. Four months is not anywhere near long enough!! I guess I feel that way because in the US, the protective order lasts a year, with the option for renewal. Like in the US, it is hard to obtain a domestic violence protective order in the first place here in France, which means if you have obtained one, your situation must be pretty severe. What do I mean by that? Well, in both the US and France, you have to provide evidence that shows that your life is in danger to get a protective order. Abusers are some of the most patient people on the planet. Just when you think they have given up, they come back at you when you least expect it. To protect these women, I believe the law needs to be extended to a year here in France. These women cannot be constantly bogged down in paperwork when they feel their very lives are in danger. The bureaucracy and paperwork should be the least of their worries. Once they get the protective order, they should be protected under law for a year and then a few months before the year ends, they can make the decision about whether or not to try to renew it, based on their current situation. Women deserve at least a year of protection if they have to prove that their life is in danger. In 2008 the courts in Wake County provided me with a domestic violence protective order lasting a year, which gave me peace. I stopped receiving threatening phone calls and email messages and I finally stopped looking behind me to see if I was being followed. I am just one person but I feel that these women deserve at least a year of peace as they try to put their lives back together. One of the mayor’s assistants is running for representative in the National Assembly in June 2017. My goal is to have him take my proposal to the National Assembly. I have considered this and prayed about it. I feel it is the right thing to do. This law isn’t enough. Women need more support.
Thanks for your support in my effort in doing this.