Police and justice

You might be feeling hesitant about involving the French justice system after being subjected to domestic abuse. However, making an official complaint can be a crucial step that can help you later. For example, to obtain a protection order, in family court matters, for your residency rights or even to find housing. We will walk you through it step by step.

Anyone who has experienced domestic abuse in France can file a complaint to report the abuse, even if they do not have residency rights. Filing a complaint is a very important step and may be a prerequisite for procedures related to safety, accommodation or even divorce and child custody.
This letter to the French police can help you communicate with them if you do not speak fluent French and/or wish to be sure that they respect your rights, for example the fact that you have the right to ask for their help without being deported.
Even if you don't feel ready to report the abuse yet, it is important to gather evidence. It may help you to exercise your rights later, with regards to housing, residency rights or divorce and child custody, for example.
Lawyers play a key role throughout legal proceedings. It is important to choose one you can trust. They can assist you with criminal law, family law or defend your rights in relation to the administrative authorities.
Discrimination is prohibited and punishable by French law. If you have experienced discrimination, be it from a public or private organisation, there are some options to protect your rights.
If the other parent has gone abroad with your children, or is keeping them aboard without your agreement, this constitutes international parental child abduction. There are solutions for bringing your children back to France.
Perpetrators deploy common strategies to discredit their victims and often use the legal system to continue their abuse. However, judges, police, media and society are all starting to recognise these manipulative tactics and patterns of behaviour.


It took me a long time to ask for help. As I didn’t have a visa, I thought that I had no right to be protected by the police. My ex made death threats against me, I knew I was in serious danger, but I was very afraid that the police would put me in prison or deport me from France when they discovered that I was undocumented. I ended up finding an association for victims of violence near my home that helped me. In the end, everything went well at the police station. The investigation is still ongoing and I really don't understand why it's taking so long, but I'm happy I did it.

“Rita” - Bangladesh - 25 years old

When I went to the police station to file a complaint, I was offered to file a “main courante”. I didn't know what it was, and since I don't speak French well, I didn't dare ask the question. Two years later, I still had no news from the police and I was wondering where the investigation was going when a friend explained to me that the “main courante” does not lead to any action and that instead I should have made a “plainte”. She advised me to go back to the station, but I don't want to go through all that again. I regret that I did not know this earlier and that the police did not explain the difference to me.

“Megan” - New Zealand - 48 years old

Unfortunately, I suffer a lot of racism in France. It's not easy here when you're a black woman and you wear a hijab. I have felt a lot of contempt since I arrived here. I was never taken seriously. I decided to no longer accept this racism and to defend myself. I contacted the Defender of Rights to report the discrimination I suffered in my search for work and housing. I now volunteer for an association on weekends to help other women of colour in France to fight against daily microaggressions and exclusion.

“Aïssa” - Mali - 34 years old

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