Russia

Russian Federation: Kidnapped and Abused, Finding Help to Let Go

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By Sergey Gagloev

Diana* lived with her mother, father, and two younger brothers in a small village in Chechnya - until at just 19, she was kidnapped.

Her kidnapper was not looking for ransom. He was looking for a bride.

Bride kidnappings in the North Caucasus are more commonplace than one would think. Diana is one of thousands who are taken from their homes by men they may hardly know. Once in their new homes, many kidnapped brides often face domestic violence. Diana's experience was no different.

After being beaten, Diana divorced her husband and returned to her father's home. But though she escaped her abusive husband, Diana soon faced even more trouble at home. Shortly after Diana's return, her mother was diagnosed with cancer and passed away just two months later.

After her mother's death, Diana assumed the role of caring for her two younger brothers, while her father worked to make ends meet. But the loss of her mother was not the end to Diana's suffering. Her father, a well-respected man in the village, raped her.

Diana did not know where to turn. Afraid no one would believe her, she kept silent, until she found out about International Medical Corps' services in a neighboring village.

Funded by the U.S. Bureau for Populations, Refugees and Migration, International Medical Corps teams provide primary health care and mental health support to people living in the surrounding area. Diana often took her brother to see International Medical Corps' doctors for regular check-ups, but never sought out mental health care, until she found the courage one day to tell inform a psychologist what happened.

Upon disclosing her secret, Diana cried and made excuses for her father's actions. The International Medical Corps psychologist listened patiently and suggested they meet regularly. After a few months, Diana showed improvement. No longer nervous and scared, she felt stronger and more confident.

Diana is one of approximately 2,000 people in the North Caucasus who have received mental health support in the last three years through International Medical Corps - whether struggling with displacement, unemployment, or, like Diana, sexual abuse and gender-based violence. With repeated visits to International Medical Corps' clinics, many are able find relief for emotional wounds they have carried for years, and find a new beginning.

The same was true for Diana, who soon found love and remarried. Knowing her younger brothers needed a father, she never shared what happened, but, thanks to the support of the psychologist and her new husband, Diana was able to start over and leave her painful past behind.