“Hearing the unspeakable”, listening to child victims of violence

The room is furnished and furnished with care: sofa, toys, markers… “Everything is thought out and prepared to welcome children like in a little bubble”, explains a member of the reception unit for children in danger of the annex of the hospital of Saint-Malo. In this pioneering service, opened in 2007, gendarmes, psychologists and social services work together to collect the words of young victims of violence. It is often here that they speak for the first time about what happened to them. “We must not miss this meeting, because that’s where everything will be played”underlines an investigator.

The teams are trained in collecting the child’s words, “as fragile as it is precious”recalls a psychologist, but that does not prevent the“apprehension”. You have to succeed in creating a climate of trust, know how to interpret silences and be able to hear the unspeakable.

This is all the more important, as there will only be one audition. To prevent the young victims from repeating traumatic remarks, the team films the meeting in a room equipped with a two-way mirror, behind which are a psychologist and a policeman who guide the investigator via a headset, if necessary.

No voyeurism

Director Marie Bonhommet was able to film six interviews, preserving the anonymity of the young people and their families. Six children and adolescents who have suffered sexual violence, including four from their close entourage. Difficult testimonies, delivered directly thanks to the precise and benevolent questions of the investigators.

The viewer attends the auditions, but there is no voyeurism in this documentary filmed with tact and sensitivity which immerses us in the daily life of a reception unit for children in danger, still too rare in France. According to estimates by the Independent Commission on Incest and Sexual Violence against Children (Ciivise), 160,000 young people are victims of sexual violence each year.


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