REWIND TO PEACE - RELIEF FOR WAR RAPE VICTIMS
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During the wars in Bosnia and Kosovo in the 1990's rape was used for the first time as a weapon, a means of ethnic cleansing and terror. Tens of thousands of women, children and men, an estimated 40,000 in Bosnia, and 20,000 in Kosovo, were violated in ways too horrible and revolting to detail, but quite often when children were involved, rape was committed in front of their parents and often they were killed afterwards. Women, and men, were raped in front of their families, and men were forced to rape their own daughters, or brothers to attack their sisters. This left an unimaginable lasting legacy of trauma, self-loathing, emptiness and inability to function at anything other than a basic survival level.
At the time there was no help for survivors, and after the wars only a little help from specialist groups who were few and far between. Doctors can only prescribe pharmaceuticals, but pills don't erase the pain, loss, trauma and fear of the time and victims are still suffering twenty years later.
Phoenix Aid, a UK registered charity active in both Bosnia and Kosovo since 2003, provides therapy training to war victims and disabled groups. We ran a trial of the Rewind Technique in Bosnia two years ago, which had very good results with both rape victims and ex-soldiers with PTSD.
Rewind Technique is a fast trauma alleviation treatment, successfully used in PTSD treatments for sufferers in UK. It uses elements of hypnosis and neuro linguistic programming to help the sufferer re-programme their brain so they can remember their experience but not be traumatised by it, making everyday life easier to deal with. It makes people feel 'alive' again.
Rape victims specifically have problems accessing help, mainly because there isn't much, but also for cultural reasons. Even though the woman was attacked and could not get away from her situation there is still a notion that she is unclean, and people are ashamed of what happened to them. Many women don't tell their families what happened to them, fearing rejection, which in fact does happen. Women in the rape camps knew what had happened to each other but never spoke about it with each other because they didn't want to expose their own pain and in any case nobody could spare any sympathy because they had all suffered. Rape often happened in conjunction with being robbed and arrested, taken hostage, imprisoned and held in concentration camps, tortured, used as forced labour, saw others killed and mutilated and were forced to watch torture and killing inflicted on their families.
A male rape victim said he was an empty shell and no longer felt like a man, but the fact that he spoke publicly about his experience is highly unusual, most men won't disclose their pain and experience.
Most victims live on the margins of society, most are unemployed mainly because of both physical and mental problems connected with their experiences. Providing a quick and effective treatment is one way of giving these people their life back, and helping them find a way forward to living a happier and more fulfilling life
All donations raised will buy Rewind Technique online training courses for psychotherapists working with PTSD and rape victims in both Bosnia and Kosovo. They will get ongoing support from the governing organisation, and personal support from a Rewind practitioner in a mentoring role, who will visit them at the start and during the course of their training.
It is expected that many of the people who attend the victims’ organisations will be able to have Rewind therapy and experience benefits after the first treatment. Whilst it is preferred that attendees have three treatments, these can be done when the attendee can visit, knowing that they will be mentally much happier and able to cope after the first one.
The impact of treating these victims will be a feeling of personal well-being and lightening of their trauma burden. This will enable their family, who usually take on the role of carer, to live a less burdened life and lift the stress of having to cope with a mentally ill relative. It will relieve the doctors of having to prescribe pills which have little effect, and can cause other illnesses. Generally, it will create happier social groups and overall a happier, more able society.
So please help make a difference and donate what you can. Every penny raised will go directly to the project. Thankyou.
FROM LORD HAGUE:
"I am pleased to support Phoenix Aid's endeavours to assist the training of fast trauma therapy to Bosnian and Kosovan psychologists working with victims of rape. As I know from launching the Prevention of Sexual Violence Initiative we must do more to assist these men and women who have suffered not only physical trauma but mental as well. Providing mental health assistance to victims will be an essential step on the road to recovery and I give this charity my support and best wishes."
- Lord William Hague, former Foreign Secretary & campaigner against sexual violence
FROM THE DUCHESS OF CORWALL:
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Above: Phoenix Aid's Sarah Greenwood (left)meets Bakira Hasesic,
President of the Women Victims of War association, in Sarajevo, BiH.
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nb - Picture by Mikhail Evstafiev (above left) is reproduced courtesy of Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike Licence & is placed next to a photo taken and owned by Phoenix-Aid. Its use does not signify endorsement of the project or charity. The people depicted are Bosnians who lived through the war but are not known to be victims of any direct personal assault.