A French woman is set to go on trial for murder today after killing the man who raped and abused her for years.
Valérie Bacot, 40, was 12 when her mum’s partner, Daniel Polette, raped her for the first time. She said she didn’t know what he was doing until a biology lesson at school.
The stepdad, who was 25 years Bacot’s senior, was sent to prison but after being released he returned and resumed the rapes.
Bacot wrote in her book, ‘Everybody Knew’: ‘Nobody seemed to find it bizarre that Daniel came back to live with us as if nothing had happened.
‘Everyone knew but nobody said anything.’
She reportedly overheard her alcoholic mum say: ‘I don’t give a damn as long as she doesn’t become pregnant.’
But at 17, Bacot did become pregnant, was thrown out of the house by her mum and went to live with her stepdad.
Polette, also a heavy drinker, became increasingly violent – subjecting her to almost daily beatings and attacking her with a hammer at one point. Three more children followed.
He later ordered her to work as a prostitute for truck drivers passing through, using a Peugeot people carrier.
Polette threatened to kill his wife if she refused to obey his orders, even pointing a gun at her, according to investigators.
But she said ‘this has to stop’ after Polette started questioning their 14-year-old daughter about her sexuality.
‘I had to put an end to it,’ Bacot wrote. ‘I was afraid, all the time.’
When he ordered her to carry out more sexual acts for clients in March 2016, Bacot used the pistol which he hid in the in the car to kill him with a single bullet to the back of the neck.
She hid the body with the help of two of her four children, and in October 2017 she was arrested and confessed to fatally shooting him.
One year later she was released pending her trial while remaining under judicial control.
She is now expected to tell the court at Chalon-sur-Saône in Burgundy about how he made her life hell.
Bacot’s lawyers said ‘the extreme violence that she suffered for 25 years and the fear that her daughter would be next’ pushed her to kill Polette.
Prosecutors will argue the act is premeditated.
Her lawyers – Janine Bonaggiunta and Nathalie Tomasini – had already defended Jacqueline Sauvage, a French woman who was sentenced to 10 years in prison for killing her abusive husband.
She however won a presidential pardon in 2016 after becoming a symbol for the fight against violence directed at women.
The lawyers told reporters: ‘These women who are victims of violence have no protection. The judiciary is still too slow, not reactive enough and too lenient towards the perpetrators who can continue to exercise their violent power.
‘This is precisely what can push a desperate woman to kill in order to survive.’
Bacot was ‘certain that she needed to commit this act to protect her children’, they claim.
It comes after more than 500,000 people have signed a petition demanding that Bacot be cleared.
And in the past week three women in France were killed by former partners, in a country which has one of the highest rates of femicide in Europe.
The trial is expected to last until the end of the week.
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