Skip to main content

Table 1 Pattern of trauma experiences and symptoms encountered by six female Yezidi survivors rescued from ISIL

From: Treating implicit trauma: a quasi-experimental study comparing the EMDR Therapy Standard Protocol with a ‘Blind 2 Therapist’ version within a trauma capacity building project in Northern Iraq

Thematic narratives experienced by Yezidi survivors:Trauma symptom experiences of Yezidi survivors
o ISIL attack the Yezidi community in Northern Iraq
o This involves high levels of terror, fear and extreme violence—including deliberate acts of humiliation and dehumanisation
o Members of the Yezidi community are segregated with families separated and torn apart
o Yezidi males are brought in front their community and then massacred
o Yezidi females (particularly young woman) are abducted—being moved, in some cases, great distances
o The Yezidi survivors interviewed spent periods in large groups with other women following their immediate abduction—this increased individual and collective levels of terror and fear
o These abducted women and young girls are then sold as ‘sex slaves’ to ISIL fighters
o Many survivors were sold for small amounts of money (approximately $15–30—in some cases, for as little as a packet of cigarettes)
o Virgin Yezidi girls were highly prized by ISIL fighters/jihadists
o Once in captivity, survivors are subjected to repeated sexual, physical and psychological violence; torture; and humiliation
o Several Yezidi survivors described making attempts at suicide and self-harm
o A frequent trauma narrative by Yezidi survivors—a choice: ‘convert to Islam and have one husband’ or ‘keep your Yezidi faith’ and you will be passed from one Jihadist to another (multiple abusers
o Those that managed to escape—their families had to pay large ransoms (approximately $5000), with very little means to repay this
o Yezidi survivors recounted that the Yezidi community has been very welcoming to those fortunate to return
o Flashbacks and intrusive recollections
o Nightmares and poor sleep pattern
o Heightened anxiety
o Helplessness
o Feelings of self-blame and ‘over-responsibility’
o Powerlessness
o Feeling detached
o Suicidal thoughts and self-destructiveness
o Low mood/depression
o Phobic reactions
o Low self-esteem
o Difficulty managing emotions
o Changes in ‘world view’
o Changes in consciousness
o Anger and resentment
o Over-responsibility
o High levels of shame/guilt
o Heightened sense of fear and anxiety
o Fear of retribution: rationale and irrational
o Disgust
o Secrecy
o Transference/counter-transference
o Quasi power and control
o When there are ‘no words’ and language is ‘insufficient’
o Unspoken trauma