When fighting breaks out between groups of armed men in Salamabila, eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), civilian women very often pay the price. Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) teams treated 157 survivors of sexual violence in this area of Maniema province from April to November, 2018, with many patients saying their attacker was armed. Though the need for assistance is extremely high, MSF is the only organization providing care for survivors of sexual violence in Salamabila, in addition to other medical and mental health treatment.
“I don’t know if my mind will return to normal,” one survivor said. “Can it ever go back to normal after that?” The consequences these survivors face are often catastrophic: psychological trauma, stigmatization, HIV and other diseases, unwanted pregnancies, and rejection by husbands and families.