This story discusses domestic violence and sexual assault, and may be triggering to some readers.
Frenchwoman Valérie Bacot killed her husband, Daniel Pelotte, on March 13, 2016. She shot him in the back of the neck with his own gun, and then she and her children buried him in the woods.
Bacot wrote all the details in a best-selling book, Everybody Knew. And yet, hundreds of thousands of people signed a petition to have murder charges against her dropped.
Bacot was just a child when Pelotte came into her life as her alcoholic mother’s new husband.
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Pelotte, a truckdriver, was 25 years older than Bacot. He would watch her take baths and he would rub lotion into her body. Then, when she had her first period, at the age of 12, he started raping her.
Bacot told one of her teachers at school about the rapes, and Pelotte was sent to jail. Bacot’s mother made her visit him, and then, when he was released after two-and-a-half years, she took him back.
The rapes continued.
"Every night after school he would say, 'You go upstairs,' to me," she said in an interview with Le Parisien. "I knew what that meant."
At 17, Bacot fell pregnant to her stepfather. Her mother threw her out of home, telling her to go live with him.
"I wanted to keep my child," she told the court. "I had nobody. Where could I go?"
Bacot and Pelotte got married. He wouldn’t let her go to work or use contraception, and she had three more children.
He became more violent towards her, progressing from slapping to punching and choking – once, even attacking her with a hammer.
Sometimes he would threaten to kill her and the children. He would hold a gun to her head and pull the trigger.
She never knew if it was loaded.
"You’re lucky, it’s not today," he would say. "There is nothing in it, but next time I will not miss."
Her children went to the police several times to ask for help for their mother, but nothing was done.