“We got advice to help lift our shame and raise our self-esteem… to see ourselves as equal to everyone else again”
(Female victim, Ituri, Democratic Republic of Congo)
The TFV’s psychological rehabilitation programmes respond to the needs of thousands of victims suffering from psychosocial and trauma-related conditions. These include (but are not limited to), persons who have and/or continue to suffer from sexual and gender based violence, child soldiers, formerly abducted persons, and other vulnerable beneficiaries. The TFV’s psychological rehabilitation activities seek to promote a culture of acceptance in order to reduce the stigmatization of victim survivors, and to revive long-held community values of trust, communal responsibility and peaceful coexistence.
In both of the currently active situations of the TFV, a number of key strategies have been and continue to be implemented. These include providing training for professional trauma counsellors, individual and group-based counselling to provide immediate emotional and psychosocial support, community-led healing of memories initiatives and therapy sessions, awareness-raising and peace-building activities, school-based participatory peace promotion (run by trained animateurs), and sensitization activities.
Many of the TFV’s implementing partners working in the area of psychological rehabilitation employ a group-based model. These efforts reach a larger number of victim beneficiaries, and offer victims an outlet to share their stories of trauma and violation if they wish to. These activities often result in a certain degree of healing, and contribute directly to broader goals of reconciliation and the promotion of a culture of peace.
The most significant changes reported back by beneficiaries include a more positive outlook to life and increased confidence and social cohesion, enabling them to participate in community activities. Many respondents, especially sexual and gender-based violence survivors, said that after psychological rehabilitation, they were able to stop blaming themselves for the crimes they had experienced.