Svetlana, psychologist, Resonance Centre* in the Transnistrian Region
“Working with women who are victims of abuse and violence is very intimate. At the beginning, I expected it to be difficult because I didn't have enough experience as a psychologist, but when I started, I remember being very enthusiastic, and having a lot of interest in my job.
I started working with a Ukrainian woman in August 2022, a few months after the start of the war. After working with several refugee women from Ukraine and the Transnistrian Region, I have noticed different needs.
For example, the needs of Ukrainian women are directly related to consequences of fleeing the war. They are stressed and many of them are depressed. Some are also struggling with personal challenges that pre-date the war. For example, a woman was left by her husband before the war, so her trauma was more connected to this experience and to the Covid-19 pandemic rather than the war.
In many cases, conflicts arise within the family. Many relatives moved to Transnistria with their parents due to the war. Parents and children have very different political positions regarding the war, those who support the Russian Federation and those who support Ukraine.
The main impact of our work is to empower women. In many cases the victims are depressed, fearful, with feelings of guilt about being unable to raise their children. So, we start working with them, helping them with their emotional trauma, working through the feelings of fear and guilt. Over time women develop a strength of their own, realizing that their purpose is to be able to help and take care of their children. And with the help of social work, they become more social and improve their lives.
There is one story in particular that has had an impact on my professional life. The story is about a 63-year-old Ukrainian woman who lost a good job because her 84-year-old mother was ill, and she decided to reach her here, in the Transnistrian Region. She developed depression living without a job. So, we started working with her, and we noticed that she did not have any joy in her life. We helped her connect with the social world, go out, meet her relatives and friends. She became more social, and she reclaimed her life. It was a successful case. She made the decision to return to Ukraine at the end of January 2023.
To be helped, the woman must feel the need to change something that does not work and that she cannot overcome on her own.
I started working with a woman, discovered her problem and then asked her 'what were the consequences of domestic violence'. Then I asked her 'would you like to change your life?'. Since she used to live with an aggressive man who would always make her feel guilty, I suggested that she work on this constant guilt. And that is how she agreed to change her life”.
(Svetlana, psychologist. A conversation with IOM Moldova)
*Resonance Centre in the Transnistrian Region is an IOM Moldova Implementing Partner