*Representative photo used to protect identity
“The IS-fighters look them in the eyes, but don’t see a human being.”
Farah* is one of the Christian women who was held as a slave by ISIS. Raped and then dumped as garbage in a Kurdish city. Recently, volunteers working with victims of IS sex slavery were supported with a Trauma Care training.
Farah dares to share only fragments of her time with fighters of the self-proclaimed Islamic State (IS). Together with other women, Yazidis mostly, she was held in a room. Constantly, groups of men would come in and rape her and the other women. There were a lot of men, they came in whenever they liked, and they did to her whatever they liked.
When her mental state began to deteriorate as a consequence of all the rapes, they must have lost interest in her. Her kidnappers dumped her in a Kurdish city with nothing but the clothes on her body: a filthy burqa. Farah was completely lost. When she was gibbering quietly in the Christian language, a nun discovered her on the street. “I am from the Christian area,” she had whispered while revealing her face to the nun. The nun was shocked as she did not expect a Christian woman to be wearing a burqa.
Through a local partner, Open Doors supports trauma care trainings for Yazidi and Christian volunteers that work with victims like Farah. The stories they hear from the victims are crueler then one can imagine.
Maryam* is a local fieldworker involved in the trainings. She shares: “The IS fighters look them in the eyes, but don’t see a human being. They have no mercy.” The state of Farah’s body shows that the rapes she had to undergo were brutal. But even more poignant is what it did to her mentally.
For the volunteers in the training, Farah’s situation is recognizable. On a daily basis they work with women who behave in similar ways. They have stopped speaking or are constantly shaking. Many of the victims commit suicide or plan to do so. “One Yazidi girl told us that she was waiting for her family to return from IS territory and that she would kill herself afterwards. She was very certain about this,” says Maryam. Some of the nuns working with traumatized people have had some form of education about the subject, but the ones attending the training are eager to get more tools to help their people. They fled just minutes before the women they are now taking care of. The fact that they could escape while the victims couldn’t is a big motivation for them to help them.
*Names changed for security reasons
Compiled by Janelle Powers. For media inquiries, contact Christine Cape at 404-545-0085 or Christy Lynn Wilson at 770-401-9842.