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'I had eight teeth broken': French film star Sandrine Bonnaire shares domestic violence ordeal

French actress Sandrine Bonnaire.
French actress Sandrine Bonnaire. Screengrab, France 24

On the United Nations-backed International Day for Eliminating Domestic Violence against Women, French film star Sandrine Bonnaire shared her harrowing experience of domestic abuse in conversation with FRANCE 24. 

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The 52-year-old Bonnaire, whose award-winning career spans four decades in film and television, recounted a life-changing experience 20 years ago with her partner of three-and-a-half years. Strangled by the man during an argument in her home, Bonnaire lost consciousness and woke with her jaw fractured in three places, her tongue severely damaged and eight broken teeth. The man responsible told her she had suffered the injuries in a fall and, initially, she believed him. But doctors told the actress that injuries like hers could only stem from a car accident, or domestic violence.

Shooting on the movie Bonnaire was working on at the time was suspended for two-and-a-half months while she recovered, losing weight as she was forced to eat through a straw. To this day, she still experiences physical pain as a result of the attack.

The actress says the worst part is that the lingering pain means she can’t fully leave the attack in the past. “Even if I want to forget that man, I can’t because I still have pain on my face, the neck, arms, everything, shoulders. When it’s cold, when it’s windy…”

Bonnaire’s attacker received only a two-year suspended sentence as punishment.

Bonnaire spoke to FRANCE 24 on the day French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe announced new measures to combat domestic abuse in the country.

On Saturday, tens of thousands took to the streets across France in solidarity with victims of domestic abuse.

To watch FRANCE 24’s interview with Sandrine Bonnaire, click on the video player above.

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