Woman Who Killed Abusive Husband Won’t Face Further Jail Time
Valérie Bacot, whose case sent shockwaves through France, is free after spending one year in prison for killing her abusive husband.
Bacot, a mother of four, shot her husband Daniel Polette, who was also her step-father, in the head in 2016.
On Friday, the courthouse of Chalon-sur-Saone in central France ruled that the forty-year-old would face four years in prison with three suspended. Since Bacot has already spent a year in prison for killing Polette, this meant she was free and will not have to serve any further jail time.
The case has been a major talking point in France as people re-address how they discuss domestic violence as well as showing their support for Bacot, with more than 700,000 people signing a petition calling for her release.
In her best-selling novel, Tout Le Monde Savait (Translated: Everyone Knew), Bacot recounted how she killed her abusive step-father and husband, acting in ‘desperation’. The Washington Post noted that the book described ‘how she shot him outside the French village of La Clayette and then buried him in the nearby woods with the help of two of their children.’
The New York Times reported Bacot explaining the abuse to the court, ‘At first it was slaps, then kicks, punches and he would strangle me.’ The author added she was ‘afraid to die every day.’
The court also heard how Polette coerced Bacot into having sex with him when she was just 12. After this sexual assault, he was sentenced to four years in jail. However, upon early release, Polette continued the abuse. Bacot maintains that while this happened, her mother ‘turned a blind eye.’
After having her first child with Polette aged 17, Bacot was kicked out of her house by her mother and began to live with her step-father. Polette was reportedly an abusive alcoholic that threatened Bacot with prostitution. Eventually, these threats became a reality. Bacot’s children told the court she had been forced into prostitution for 11 years and found out when they saw business cards their father made that read ‘escort girl.’
Bacot had four children with Polette and he reportedly refused to let his wife use contraception. The author said she took a stand when Polette allegedly started to take an interest in his 14-year-old daughter.
After being raped by a client in 2016, Bacot shot Polette in the back of the head. Speaking to the court she said, ‘Yes, I killed him but if I had not done it, my children would have.’
If you are experiencing domestic violence, please know that you are not alone. You can talk in confidence 24 hours a day to the national domestic violence helpline Refuge on 0808 2000 247.
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