Our research

The research carried out by Women for Women France identified key challenges that foreign-born victims of domestic violence in France face when seeking protection, support, and asserting their rights.

Our research concluded that existing services do not adequately address the intersectional disadvantages that foreign-born people face. Social, economic, legal and administrative factors specific to this demographic compound to create complex needs.

Specific challenges faced by foreign-born victims of domestic violence
in France

Foreign-born people are faced with significant additional challenges that obstruct pathways out of domestic violence to safety and independence.  


  • increased likelihood of social isolation due to geographic distance from support networks

  • higher risk of social isolation in the cycle of abuse

  • likelihood of no or limited French language proficiency

  • increased risk of facing discrimination.


  • fewer opportunities to obtain employment

  • higher risk of facing economic abuse

  • high risk of facing discrimination when seeking employment and stable, long-term accommodation

  • significant barriers in obtaining autonomy over financial affairs, such as bank accounts, insurances, and taxes.

Legal and administrative

  • high risk of anxiety relating to immigration status, particularly in the case of partner-sponsored visas

  • reduced likelihood of understanding legal rights in France, as well as the institutions and processes of legal intervention and recourse

  • higher risk of facing administrative abuse

  • greater complexity in resolving family law matters due to international considerations regarding separation of assets, child custody, and divorce

  • significant barriers in gaining autonomy over administrative affairs, such as driver’s license, health insurance and social security. 

Pathways from domestic violence to safety and independence: the obstacles

A report commissioned by the French government concluded that victims of domestic violence in France found navigating existing services and legal procedures to be complex and onerous. 

Our research concluded these complexities are further compounded by the specific challenges faced by foreign-born victims of domestic violence.

Our assessment identified the following gaps in the services available:

A lack of information in languages other than French

Online keyword searches in Russian, Chinese, English, and Arabic relating to domestic violence, such as

“my husband hit me France”, “does my husband have the right to control our money in France?”, and “how to protect my children from their violent father in France?” resulted in limited to no information on how to seek help. 

More advanced searches delivered incomplete or inaccurate information. 

Reception by police and gendarmerie services

  • there is significant evidence that people fear facing discrimination based on origins and ethnicity  

  • there are numerous reports of law enforcement refusing to register complaints of domestic violence across France

  • although there are measures in French law to have an abusive partner removed from a shared residence, this solution is not proposed or enforced on a systematic basis

  • law enforcement are not procedurally required to refer victims to services offering shelter, psychological support, or administrative and legal assistance, leaving people confronted with domestic violence to navigate services, systems, and procedures themselves.

Reception by health services

  • there is currently limited specialised training to identify or refer victims of domestic violence to relevant support services

  • local contacts for support services are not systematically available

  • victim and trauma counselling is available almost exclusively in French.

Reception by organisations and social services

  • relevant services operate independently, usually specialising in one of the following areas:

    • advice and information on the rights of victims of domestic violence, women, and families

    • women and LGBTQIA+ health specialists 

    • victim and trauma counselling 

    • emergency care and services, such as accommodation, healthcare, food, etc.

    • immigration legal services

    • social integration programs and services 

    • economic empowerment programs and services 

  • many of these services are not available outside metropolitan France

  • online consultations are not commonly available in France, even when requested.

There is little or no communication and coordination between these services, which places the onus on foreign-born people facing domestic violence to research and navigate the different services they need. Research shows this significantly increases the risk of a victim of domestic violence abandoning their efforts and staying in or returning to dangerous and potentially life-threatening situations. 

In response, Women for Women France consulted with experts, existing services, and survivors of domestic violence to develop a program which will deliver practical solutions for victims, survivors, and professionals.

Get involved

Women for Women France is a French NGO. Its success depends on donors, sponsors, partnerships, and volunteers.