Refugee sisters Reem and Nadia (names are changed to protect them) have undergone difficult trials but their faith still remains. First, their father disappeared one night in Iraq. He was never found and presumed killed. Later in 2014, ISIS invaded and Reem, Nadia, and their mother were forced to flee to Erbil. There they camped out in the garden of a church for three months until they were able to move to a one room housing unit. This housing area was known to be violent, and sexual assault was a common occurrence. Here Reem was raped. The rape was violent, and because of the stigma attached to sexual assault, she was unable to seek help because she did not want to bring shame on her mother or younger sister. Reem hid this secret from her family, yet the effects were far reaching. Shortly after the assault she started experiencing panic attacks on a daily basis. Unable to sleep at night, she lived in constant fear that another assault would reoccur.
After several months they moved to Ashtaytoo, an IDP camp, but their hardships still continued. Sexual assault and other forms of abuse and violence prevailed within the camp, worsening Reem’s panic attacks and further impacting her state of mind. Insomnia, anxiety and fear continued to define her existence, all of which she suffered alone–shielding her mother and sister from the truth.
The family was finally able to move to Jordan where their safety improved, yet the lasting trauma on Reem’s health remained. She experienced daily panic attacks and her health started to decline. Yet without any money to pay rent in this new country as refugees, let alone doctor’s fees, Reem continued her silent struggle.
Now, with the support of the Trauma Healing Center, Reem has started her path to healing. Here she does art therapy, which has provided her with a means to comfortably express herself. She receives counseling support as well. While she still experiences panic attacks and bouts of insomnia, they are far less frequent than previously. She also accesses many other resources at the Center, furthering her education, developing friendships, and leading a much happier existence. She is much more hopeful for the future.
Many refugees like Reem suffer in silence, with no recourse for help. With your support, American FRRME can continue to help and give hope to many of these displaced and traumatized individuals.
American FRRME is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that promotes reconciliation, provides
relief efforts, advances human rights and seeks an end to sectarian violence in the Middle East.