The therapy clinic in the city of Dohuk is run with the support of, among others, the Swedish Ping Commission’s development aid organization, PMU. Not only Yazidi women who have been raped by the Islamic state''s terrorists, and later sold as sex slaves come here.
The newspaper Dagen met therapists that relate that many traumatized displaced persons can react deeply emotionally long afterwards. There are situations that remind them of violence, terror and abuse to which they have been exposed.
Rizgar Ahmad Ibrahim and Warjin Sarhan, therapists at the clinic, told of a woman who revealed that she had been raped seven times by Islamic State terrorists, and then re-sold several times. Even her own family was coldhearted when she was freed and called her, 'IS-whore.’ Just meeting her own family could cause a relapse of what she felt when she was assaulted.
"Others can react when they hear the prayer call from the mosque or see a person with a long beard. Many still live in tents with cloth walls and hear voices and animals outside that create fear."
In various refugee camps, the therapeutic clinics are trying to help the traumatized to understand their need for psychological help by inviting them to meetings where the therapists tell them about the opportunity to get treatment. Seven or eight 50-minute therapy sessions are usually offered at the Dohuk clinic, including free round-trip bus transportation.
Hundreds are treated every year
It’s not uncommon for patients to suffer from suicidal thoughts or severe depression and anxiety.
If necessary, when medical help is needed, they work in collaboration with a hospital. One can also
get help by contacting the government. The conditions checked are: 1) biological, 2)
psychological, 3) spiritual, 4) social and 5) sexual. Six to seven hundred individuals per year are treated this way in this region.
Fled up the mountain
Yazidi Kamla, 37, mother of four, is one of many women who have received help with psychotherapy and medicine. She fled up to Sinjar Mountain with the children when the IS vehicles drove into the village. The family slept outdoors on the mountain, with shoes as pillows, for eight nights, she told Dagen.
“Afterwards, in the refugee camp, I cried all day. The neighbors began to wonder if someone was beating me. But I felt bad for sake of the family, I’ve been depressed,” said Kamla, who is grateful the treatment she received.
Even Shaha, 33, a mother of three, still experiences horrible IS memories. She has one unsuccessful suicide attempt behind her. She said that as long as she receives therapy and takes the medication, she feels better.
"Even the children still have nightmares that the IS militia will come and take them away. “
"In the Yazidi and Kurdish culture, it is often shameful to seek help for mental problems,” the therapists in Dohuk said. Many hide their problems outwardly for fear of being considered weird or strange. It is worse for the men since Middle Eastern culture demands that they be stoic and brave.
"People often find it difficult to express their feelings and often suffer from panic. But when the woman and the children in the family have been helped to talk openly about their problems, often also the men also come to the clinic for help.”