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Bar-Ilan, IsraAID assist tortured Yazidi women

Dr. Ari Zivotofsky of Bar-Ilan University.

Yazidi women who have survived some of the worst situations imaginable will be helped by a unique healing program established by Bar-Ilan University and IsraAID. The program intends to aid thousands of women impacted by the severe trauma of ISIS captivity.

“We are distressed by the continuing news coming out of Kurdistan about the plight of Yazidi women who have suffered under ISIS,” says Prof. Ari Zivotovsky of Bar-Ilan. “We think it our obligation to use our knowledge and the expertise of Bar Ilan and Israeli clinicians to help them, particularly in light of the continued world apathy to their situation.”

Bar-Ilan has partnered with IsraAID, which has been working with displaced Yazidi communities in the Kurdish region of Iraq and around the world for more than four years.

At an intensive two-week workshop at Bar-Ilan in June, Kurdish mental health workers will be trained by Bar-Ilan researchers in treating PTSD and complex PTSD.

The program also provides for long-term supervision, additional training and evaluation.

In 2014, IsraAID launched its program in the Kurdish Region of Iraq, where ISIS systematically attacked and displaced Yazidis, Christians and other ethnic minorities. At the start of 2017, there were 4.2 million Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) and 1.9 million returnees. By December 2017, the number of reported IDPs decreased to 2.6 million and returnees increased to 3.2 million.

In 2017, IsraAID’s professional team provided direct psychosocial support to a group of young Yazidi girl survivors. The program enabled the female participants to process their emotions and start to take control back of their lives. Daily sessions focused on understanding the effects of trauma and gaining new coping and listening skills, to help themselves and support their peers. Despite the crucial work they are doing, these workers cannot offer the suitable complex PTSD intervention, which is why Bar Ilan researchers/therapists are key to the success of the program.

This research project was initiated by Dr. Yaakov Hoffman and Professor Ari Zivotofsky, both of Bar Ilan University, working with a team of traumatology experts.

The initial goal of the Bar-Ilan professors was to evaluate and identify the disorders these female Yazidi genocide survivors are suffering from. The researchers conducted a preliminary survey to assess the psychological condition of these former sex slaves. Due to the complex nature of the issue, cultural sensitivities and language barriers it evolved into a large collaboration involving several other BIU researchers as well as researchers from other institutions and countries.

“As Zionist Jewish scientists, we believe it is our duty to research the suffering of genocide victims both from a humanistic point of view and scientifically,” says Prof. Zivotovsky. “What better place to uphold these ideals than at Bar-Ilan University.”

This article was written by Bar-Ilan and published in The Jewish Star

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