In Ukraine, dozens of psychologists are healing invisible wounds. Women who are victims of sex crimes. Beyond these particular war crimes, they discover inhabitants traumatized by the war, desperately seeking an attentive ear. Mélina Huet and Luke Shrago accompanied these psychologists in their mission. They lift the veil on lives shattered by violence.
In Zahal’tsi, a village in the kyiv region, the Russian army entered on March 20, 2022, occupying the town for ten days. The scars of war are everywhere: on these bullet-riddled doors, on these gutted buildings.
In a dispensary plunged into darkness, women wait to undergo medical examinations. But the associations met here by the France 24 team take advantage of this to try to gather the voices of women.
Babouchka Olena soberly evokes the traumas that prevent her from sleeping. At first embarrassed and worried, she was encouraged by the kind words of Iryna Galkovska, psychologist from the Assisto project led by the Andreev Family Foundation. She ends up recounting the horror experienced by her relatives at the hands of drunken Russian soldiers.
Putting words to a nightmare
During these interviews, Iryna also tries to identify women victims of sexual violence – or, at the very least, to spread the word so that they come forward on their own. “It is those who committed these crimes who should be ashamed and not the women who are victims of them.”
Vasyl, head of the regional center for social and psychological assistance in kyiv, goes directly into contact with the inhabitants to investigate sexual violence and raise awareness among the population. But he says that 95% of the calls received come from Ukrainians who simply need to confide, to put words to a nightmare.
Under the auspices of the international organization Women for Women, Vasyl and Iryna are currently helping 33 of the 1,500 women they have helped since August. The multiple traumas left by months of occupation and a year of full-scale war are already a key issue for Ukrainian society.
Source: France 24