Broken childhood, weight of secrecy … What reveals the Olivier Duhamel case, accused of incest on his stepson

Camille Kouchner, lawyer and daughter of Bernard Kouchner, accuses her stepfather, political scientist Olivier Duhamel, of repeated sexual assault on his twin brother. A courageous speech, which helps to better understand the workings of incest.

On January 7, 2021, Camille Kouchner will publish La familia grande. In this book, the lawyer and daughter of former minister Bernard Kouchner, breaks the taboo established in her family around incest. Acts inflicted by her stepfather, the very influential political scientist Olivier Duhamel, on his twin brother from 1988, she denounces.

For about two years, says Camille Kouchner, the stepfather breaks into his teenage stepson's bedroom and sexually assaults him. When "Victor" (his assumed name in the book) opens up to his sister, he asks her not to say anything. When, twenty years later, the Kouchner siblings decide to inform their mother and those close to the family, they are silent. It is this omerta, common to incest stories and present in all circles, that Camille Kouchner shatters today.

An omerta shattered by the death of their mother

If Camille Kouchner tells this story publicly, it is only after having tried several times to talk about it with his family. Questioned by the world, she specifies that "everyone knew" what was happening in the close entourage of her stepfather and her mother, the author and political scientist Évelyne Pisier. When his brother speaks to Camille for the first time, the two teenagers are well aware that forced acts, blowjobs, are not normal between an adult and a teenager. However, Victor refuses that his sister speaks about it. The young boy, yet a victim, is ashamed.

It was not until twenty years after the incident that the siblings decided to break the silence. Indeed, their nephews and nieces are likely to go on vacation with Olivier Duhamel. No question of risking the worst to happen again. Camille and Victor talk to their mother about it. Evelyne Pisier chooses to protect her husband. The family is falling apart and torn apart. The father, Bernard Kouchner, is also informed, but his son refuses to make waves and prevents him from going to confront Olivier Duhamel.

It was not until the death of Evelyne Pisier, in February 2017, that her daughter Camille felt ready to publish her brother's story. She considers herself to be just as concerned by this story, which damaged the childhood of all the siblings. She confides to Le Monde, speaking of her stepfather: "Why would he have the right to live outside of this reality when it haunts me?" However, the facts are now time barred. Unfortunately, because in incest stories, the work of professionals, like the reference in the matter Muriel Salmona, shows that the silence of victims can be extremely long. It also sometimes takes a mourning, the death of one of the actors of the case, to allow a speech.

Read also: "I ask Santa Claus for the end of incest": the heartbreaking letter from a survivor to our governors

A long silence characteristic of incest stories

Incest is still a taboo, regardless of the setting in which it takes place (all affected). At the time of the reported facts, Camille and Victor were living in a complex family situation. Their mother, Evelyne, drowns in alcohol the grief of losing her own mother, who committed suicide, two years after her father committed the same act. Their father, Bernard, is very absorbed in his ministerial functions. The stepfather organizes the holidays, keeps the family … Camille Kouchner tells Le Monde: "A tacit pact is then formed: motus on the abnormal against the promise of a return to normal."

She loves Olivier Duhamel like a father. When she ends up confronting him anyway, he threatens, in a message, to commit suicide. Terrible words, which necessarily resonate with the story of Camille's grandparents. More than thirty years after the facts denounced, the lawyer realizes how what we call influence works, that is to say psychological submission. It is finally coming out of it today, relaunching the debate on the prescriptibility of such acts.

La familia grande, by Camille Kouchner, will be published on January 7, ed. of the Threshold