Hélène Devynck returns to the PPDA affair in her book Impunity

Hélène Devynck returns to the PPDA affair in her book Impunity
Hélène Devynck, who accuses host Patrick Poivre d’Arvor of rape, publishes her book Impunity Editions du Seuil. STEPHANE DE SAKUTIN / AFP

In her book published by Editions du Seuil, the journalist immerses the reader in the sexual violence that she and other women say they have suffered from by the former host of TF1 news. She was the guest of “La Grande Librairie” on September 21.

His face was among those of the supposed victims of Patrick Poivre d’Arvoron the front page of Release released last November. Supported by 8 other women, including Cécile Delarue, Muriel Reus and Aude Darlet, Hélène Devynck then testified, openly, to the rape that she would have suffered in 1993 by the star host of the JT of TF1. “I remember a physical immobility and a panic of thoughts, of having mentally sought with all my strength a solution to get out of there, without finding it”, she remembered for the daily newspaper.

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A year later, the journalist tells her side of the story in a book called Impunity, to be published on September 23 by Editions du Seuil, in which she plunges the reader into a chilling story, as well as that of the other supposed victims of PPDA (23 women in total). A punchy book through which she also points out the whole misogynistic and discriminatory system specific to TF1.

“Sisters of Misery”

“The whole of France knows his name and his face, but not ours”, she declared, this Wednesday, September 21, facing Augustin Trapenard in the program “La Grande Librairie” on France 5. Hélène Devynck accuses PPDA of having raped her at home when she was only 24 years old. If she is silent for almost twenty-eight years, the former editor of the JT ends her silence in 2021, after the affair broke out with the first testimony of Florence Porcel. Twenty-one women will follow. A first investigation will be closed without further action in June 2021. “We had the impression that we were being thrown in the trash, as if we had not spoken, as if we had done nothing”, explains she.

If I hadn’t worked at TF1, I wouldn’t have been raped

Helen Devynck

Over the pages that build his book ImpunityHélène Devynck returns to the PPDA affair, retracing all these stories of women, these actions modus operandi still very similar. Even more, it attacks, in the background, the television channel that allowed this trivialization of impunity. Faced with Augustin Trapenard, she explains bluntly: “If I had not worked at TF1, I would not have been raped. I was not protected”. Hélène Devynck denounces the culture of silence full of sexism, which was expressed “on the air and in the writing”. “The harassment was not named, we were talking about flirting (…) I have the impression of having done a giant slalom each time to avoid such and such a person”, continues the journalist in “La Grande Bookseller”.

During her visit to France Inter, this Thursday, September 22, the journalist notably returned to the “coup du plateau”, a well-known stratagem of the victims of Patrick Poivre d’Arvor. “He invited a young woman to the newspaper, she explained at the microphone of Léa Salamé. He put her in front of him on the set, then brought her up to his office and jumped on her. A tactic made “several times a week for 35 years”, told in unison by all the women listened to in the PPDA affair.

The threat of defamation

The author also evokes the “threat of defamation which hangs over each of her words”. “I cannot prove that Patrick Poivre d’Arvor raped me. I never can. The facts are prescribed. They will never be judged,” she wrote in Impunity. But since her speech, Hélène Devynck says she is crumbling under the criticism of her detractors and fervent defenders of the host. “I was told that I was doing this to be in the light, that I was a scatterbrain, a ‘starfuckeuse'”, she describes, evoking this “cultural impregnation which makes us wary of women who speak”. A “quasi-automatic” reflex.

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Nevertheless, Impunity remains a choral, collective work, imbued with sisterhood. A literary work addressed to these “sisters of misery”, with the aim that “it serves”, and unites. Hélène Devynck also recounts well this day of the year 2021, where she and the 22 other women accusing Patrick Poivre d’Arvor had finally met at a dinner. “For the first time, she says, we felt safe”.

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