10 July 2017

Flavie Flament: La Consolation (2016)

RTL presenter Flavie Flament was raped by a photographer at the age of thirteen. She wrote about it in this book: La Consolation, published late last year. The above book, however – a new and swiftly published poche edition with an additional six-page Preface (as opposed to the original more expensive paperback (broché) edition) – reveals the name of her rapist. The first edition didn't because of the délai de prescription law in France, meaning that, after twenty years following their eighteenth birthday (38), it is not legal for a person to denounce their attacker.* This obviously also means that not only must a person suffer as a victim of sexual abuse, but that the law can further victimise the person for, er, 'diffamation': Flavie Flamand was forty-two when she published this. The French law doesn't allow for traumatic amnesia.

She discussed her book on television programmes, and it was on Thierry Ardisson's Salut les Terriens ! that her attacker's name was revealed on 22 October 2016. After Flament explained why she felt that she couldn't reveal the name of the rapist, Ardisson pushed the issue, saying that politicians had tried to extend the délai to 48 years, but Flament still wouldn't say the name, stating that the proposed change to the law had been rejected. Ardisson asked her if he could say the name, Flament said it was up to him. Ardisson clearly pronounced 'David Hamilton', adding a very strongly worded insult to the rapist: 'J'sais pas si t'es à la télé mais t'es un bel enculé, connard !' I won't attempt a translation because strong language is particularly irksome to convey in another language, but the French here can't come much stronger. OK, it makes for good TV, but Thierry Ardisson deserves a huge commendation for this brave outburst.

Unfortunately, even as the rapist Hamilton denied the charges he seemed to admit them: he killed himself on 25 November 2016, a little more than a month after Ardisson's revelation. Flavie Flament was gutted because Hamilton had taken the easy way out, thus avoiding his own trauma which would inevitably have followed. But what of the trauma his victim had gone through?

Flavie Flament is now pushing for reform of the délai de prescription – not for its abolition, as that would take a long time. We can only hope that her wishes come soon, but then the seventies (when these attacks happened) are a different country, aren't they? I mean, surely attitudes towards sexual abuse of this nature can no longer be tolerated, can they? Don't bank on it.

I've not even said anything about the book itself, of its accusations of Flament's mother's involvement in the whole business, which includes other (slightly less serious) details. But her mother claims not to have read the book, affirming that her daughter needs a good doctor.

Anyway, the book is in two parts, with serif and non-serif fonts interspersed. The serif typeface predominates, being an account of Flament's loss of innocence, loss of childhood. But the non-serif reveals the emotions she's experienced, the psychotherapy she's been through, the constant torment, torture. Often, Flament (or Poupette as she quite often calls herself here) describes herself in the third person, as if she's an object, which of course she was to David Hamilton, that enculé, that connard. Devastating.

NB1. Since I wrote this the law has been changed: the twenty-year limit has now been extended to thirty years: an improvement, but still not enough.

NB2. The photo on the cover is of course one taken by Hamilton during one of his sessions with Flavie Flament, although she certainly looked younger than thirteen at the time.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

You stated it very well.