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Meeting with Sylvie Calascibetta

Interview made in Deauville by H.R. Hours (april 2023)

Sylvie, can you explain how you came up with the idea of writing a book to tell the story of your life and in particular the attack that is at the heart of the story ?
The trigger was that after the robbery I thought of ending my life. Even when, like me, you love life, it happens when you have been a victim of trauma, violence, a survivor of an attack or whatever.

My father had been grieved by the state I was in. So the idea of writing my story came from him as well as from myself.

I also thought that bringing this case to public attention would somehow protect his grandchildren, the following generations, so that they would not suffer the consequences them too.

What were your motivations and intentions for this writing project and what do you expect from its publication, from those who will read it ?
There are the reasons I have just explained, but also the desire to make it known that, in France, Justice is not always served as it should be. In criminal matters, certain influential people have a long enough hand to block compromising files for themselves or their friends. After a badly conducted investigation, as I felt that I had not won my case, I felt obliged to deliver all the factual and detailed elements that I had, in the hope of re-establishing the truth. This quest alone motivated me. In no way am I trying to incriminate anyone or cultivate any resentment. I also wanted everyone to know, especially the "Sicilians", that I was not the target of the robbers. Rather, it was my ex-sister-in-law and her family, but also the Neapolitan cashier who had preceded me. All this is explained in the book.

Through this testimonial story, to which audience are you particularly addressing ?
To all the people people who might experience, or have experienced, the same thing as me, to the victims of injustice who have not obtained satisfactory answers or redress, or who sometimes find themselves wrongly imprisoned, in the place of the real culprits.

I want to make them understand that they should not leave their case in a drawer or in oblivion. It is an invitation to write their own story, to leave a trace of it, a process that can be similar to a therapy. This is already a first step towards resilience, if not justice...


What is your worst memory of this case ?
I was robbed in March 1998... For everyone, this date brings back good memories of the victory of the French team in the World Football Cup, but not for me ! This is my painful reminder ! I was then in a state of anxiety and post-aggression stupefaction and, as I said above, invaded by dark thoughts, thinking of suicide. Every night I saw the eyes of my robber ("the informer") in nightmares ! When I went shopping in the supermarkets I felt faint, almost fainting when I presented the police document that replaced my identity card stolen during the robbery. For some time I could not enter a church because I felt soiled, like after a rape. Another bad memory, which may seem more anecdotal but which was important to me, was the fact that a photo of my grandmother Rose and me, which I cherished, was stolen. I also remember today that on the morning of the robbery, if my assailants had pulled guns, I could have been murdered on the corner of a street that led to my workplace. I also remember that, during the investigation, my ex-sister-in-law and the former cashier, who were supposedly involved in the case, were curiously not summoned...


What did writing this book mean to you ?
Telling your story is often both a pain and a relief. Lifting a corner of the veil, trying to shed light on certain grey areas neglected by the police investigation helped me to put the facts and my feelings in order, always with the aim of seeing the ins and outs more clearly. On the positive side, I wanted to pay a sort of tribute to my father, who is no longer alive, by evoking the moral values he tried to pass on to us. The fruits of his labour enabled us to have a good family life. In recounting my journey I realised that the support of those close to me, those on whom we can really count, such as the hard core of the family, is essential, especially when we have to face certain adversities.


Speaking of human values, which ones are most important to you ?
Respect for others and for oneself, integrity, humility, kindness, justice for all, courage, family support. When I think that some people abandon their families for money, it upsets me. Wealth is nothing to be ashamed of, but it is especially respectable when it has been obtained honestly, through work, by the sweat of one's brow. I could also add two values dear to my sister Martine : honesty and telling the truth. And, of course, not to harm people, neither morally nor physically.

Can you tell us about your current life ? And how do you see the future ?
I am a childcare provider. The children I look after are lovely. This responsibility gives me a lot of satisfaction. As I like human contact, I talk to the elderly, who I see can suffer from loneliness. I feel the need to protect them. As I love animals, I look after dogs when their owners go on holiday or are busy with their professional activities. I also work in sales, for a bakery in Deauville. As in my youth, when I used to sell at markets, I enjoy the contact with customers. Apart from that, my sister and I look after our mother as much as possible.

My wish for the future ? To live simply, focusing on the essential !


Are you an avid reader and what types of books and authors do you prefer ?
My interests in this field are very diverse. French or others. I read "classics" such as Stendhal, Flaubert, Daudet, Baudelaire, Dostoyevsky, Camus (The Plague, The Stranger), Sartre (Words), Pagnol, Bazin, Anouilh, as well as authors as different as Richard Wright, Agatha Christie, John Le Carré, Mary Higgins Clark, Marion Zimmer Bradley, Françoise Xenakis, Dominique Lapierre, Jean d'Ormesson, Tahar Ben Jelloun, Jean Rouaud... or Marc Lévy ! I like stories but also travel guides that open up knowledge of the world and its peoples. I am interested in psychology, from Freud to Boris Cyrulnik, and a little in the paranormal. I am very attracted by autobiographical stories, true stories. In this register I would mention, among others: Patrick Segal (J'en ai rêvé, tu sais), Robert Hossein (En désespoir de cause), Hugues de Montalembert (La lumière assassinée, A perte de vue...), the french abbot "l' Abbé Pierre" (L'insurgé de Dieu), Jean-Dominique Bauby (Le scaphandre et le papillon)... The same goes for social facts, essays, documents and testimonies such as : L'intelligence du cœur by Isabelle Filliozat, Le harcèlement moral by Marie-France Hirigoyen, L'esprit des religions by Hesna Cailliau, La vie explosée by Colette Bonnivard... On a practical note, due to the legal circumstances I went through, I spent some time reading the Code of Criminal Procedure, which was very instructive... Not forgetting the Bible ! Even for non-believers it is a fabulous collection of stories!
I would like to make it clear that I have no intention of becoming a writer. Through my story I have tried to give a simple testimony, as best as possible, without thinking, at any time, of making literature...


In conclusion, do you have a message for your readers ?
If, in one way or another, they are sensitive to my testimony and recognise themselves in the same difficulties that I have encountered, I invite them to "take up the pen" in turn. I would encourage them by saying : "Don't give up ! Fight to bring out the truth, but without seeking revenge. Not everyone has the strength or the good fortune to be well surrounded to overcome an ordeal, so, if necessary, do not hesitate to seek psychological help to rebuild yourself.

To create her book and her website, Sylvie Calascibetta called on the editorial and graphic services of

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