Valérie Bacot arrives at Chalon-sur-Saone Courthouse (Image: AFP via Getty Images)

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A French woman has gone on trial for killing her stepfather-turned-husband who allegedly abused her for more than 20 years.

Valérie Bacot, now 40, was just 12 when Daniel Polette – who was dating her alcoholic mother at the time – began raping her.

He was jailed, but three years later returned to the family home, where the alleged abuse continued.

The victim said one day she heard her mother say: "I don’t give a damn as long as she doesn’t become pregnant."

But when Bacot became pregnant at the age of 17, she said Polette forced her to marry him.

They had four children and she feared he would kill them, the Daily Star reports.

The trial will last one week
(Image: AFP via Getty Images)

The woman has admitted to shooting dead her abuser in 2016 during an encounter in which he had allegedly forced her to work as a prostitute.

The terrified mum, who alleges her entire life was controlled by Polette, has admitted to using the gun he hid between car seats, to free herself from daily beatings and prostitution, The Guardian reports.

Much of her harrowing published book, Bacot's story: Tout le Monde Savait (Everyone Knew), is expected to be heard at a court in Chalon-sur-Saone, Burgundy, to add context to her actions.

Bacot shot her abuser dead in 2016
(Image: AFP via Getty Images)

The woman wrote that she and the children lived in constant fear of provoking Polette's anger.

The abuser broke her nose, hit her with a hammer, and forced her to have lesbian encounters while he filmed them.

Bacot was also not allowed to speak with anybody when she went shopping and Polette had relatives and friends spy on her.

The trial will shine a light on the issue of domestic abuse in France
(Image: AFP via Getty Images)

The woman said that when her children went to the police to report the abuse, they were told to go away – and that she would need to go and report it herself.

Her lawyers, Janine Bonaggiunta and Nathalie Tomasini, said in the preface to her story: "This is a woman who has been destroyed and devastated, not just by the lack of maternal love, the rapes, the blows, the denigration, the prostitution but also and above all by the indifference and the omerta of society.

"From her earliest age, she was put through terrible things without anyone, not even those close to her, blinking an eye. They ignored her distress and her ordeal, which could be read on her face. The story of her life is deeply distressing."

Bonaggiunta added: "When I heard this story my first thought was that this started with a little girl who was not helped, who was a victim of violence of which her parents were complicit.

"She killed him but she was not a murderer. She was the victim."

More than 60,000 people have signed a petition calling for her release, BBC News reports.

The trial – which will shine a light on domestic violence in France – will last a week.

If you or somebody you know has been affected by this story, contact Victim Support for free, confidential advice on 0845 30 30 900 or visit their website, www.victimsupport.org.uk.