"Let's work with the victims"

By Audrey SomnardLex Kleren Switch to French for original article

Pascale Zaourou is President of Clae and the author of the book Les bleus invisibles, in which she recounts, through poems and extracts from her diary, her experience as a woman victim of domestic violence. We had the opportunity to interview her at a conference she gave at the end of May, where she talked about the economic difficulties women face when they leave home.

Lëtzebuerger Journal: Why did you choose poetry as an artistic form to express yourself?

Pascale Zaourou: For its universal language. I think it's because it's understandable. You can reach everyone at any time. And also to bring beauty to this struggle, because everything is punctuated by violence. I really needed to bring something that was more like me, to add a little sweetness to all this. Hence the poetry. But I also wanted to create literary material that everyone could use.

So it all started with writing for yourself, but did you have any idea it should also be aimed at an audience?

Well, I've always kept a diary. I write down everything, all the time. When I decided to write, I chose poetry. Would I have been able to go through with a survivor's diary? I'm not sure. When it's too heavy, you end up not being able to read any more. I wanted to avoid trivialising the violence while maintaining a cycle. The book is punctuated by poems and extracts from my diary, taken on the spot, in no particular order.

How long did it take for you to put this into words? To realise that you were the victim in this story?

Maybe a bit more than a year. First of all, I realised that I was living in a violent environment. It was really important to identify this. In the poems, I tried to see everything in a positive light. The victim is smiling, the victim is silent, but everything remains very positive. My partner was very charming and intelligent. I also wanted to show that this psychological violence is not necessarily a visible manifestation of violence. You really have to distinguish between the two. Over the course of a year, and thanks to my writing, I realised that this was a relationship involving domestic violence.

When you read the poem, you see the cycle starting all over again, which makes you realise the situation. We also organise writing workshops, because I really find that writing, in my case, has helped me to express myself. What's more, it's like documentation. It allows me to take a step back.

You also say in one of your poems, "It's better to be alone than to think you're two". I found that very powerful. Powerful because it's this illusion of clinging on to this couple that doesn't exist anymore.

I think I'm a very down-to-earth and realistic person. For me, it's important that things are concrete. My definition of marriage didn't correspond to what I was experiencing. Everyone has their own definition of a couple, and mine didn't match my reality.

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