By Karen Bendix 6 Jan 2022 |

Nadia escaped after 16 months in “hell”

Here is the story of a 21-year-old woman who was captured by ISIS and used as a sex slave for almost a year and a half before she managed to escape. She survived but has had to live with violent trauma and is only now coming back to life with support from Mission East.

In 2014, life changed drastically for the small people of the Yazidis in the Sinjar province of Iraq. Islamic State (IS) fighters occupied the entire area, beheaded men, raped and kidnapped women and used and sold them as sex slaves.

Nadia has only now put into words this genocide and the hell of the next few years as a sex slave - among other things. After participating in Mission East's trauma treatment, which has helped her, she has now opened her own business of producing poultry and hatching eggs.

But first her story in her own words.

Nadia’s narrative

“During 2014, my life changed completely. I still get overwhelmed when I have to try to describe the scene. I was 21 years old when IS invaded our village. We tried to escape but were surrounded by IS everywhere. My children – a 1-year-old girl and a 4-year-old boy – were scared and crying. IS captured all the young women and girls and slaughtered most of the men. They caught and kidnapped me. But luckily I knew my husband and children were alive.”

16 months in hell

“I was imprisoned by IS for almost 16 months. That period I experienced as a living hell. Every day I prayed to die. The soldiers were brutal and had no mercy on anyone. Every day we were tortured and raped. They sold me many times to each other at a very low price. I felt so ashamed and humiliated. The only thing that kept me alive and that I prayed for all those months was the thought of coming home to my husband and my children.”

“One night, along with other girls, I managed to escape from their prison. We managed to get back to our villages, which at that time had been liberated. And luckily my children and my husband were safe.”

Violent trauma follows

"After the reunion, I felt completely empty inside. I felt ashamed of myself and I had a feeling of guilt and deep depression. Although my husband and family accepted me without hesitation and tried to help me, I could not find the same joy and feeling as before I was kidnapped.”

“One day I was told that Mission East was present in our area. I visited them with my neighbors and they told us how they could help IS survivors. I attended one of the psychosocial support sessions and thought it was very interesting. After a few days, I met in person with the counselor and told in detail about my condition and challenges.

"Conversation therapy helped me regain my self-confidence so I could let go of guilt and shame."

Education and own business

“After I started recovering, I was contacted by a Mission East employee who asked if I was interested in starting my own business. To begin with, I was not sure I was capable of it. But my husband encouraged me to give it a try. Since I am an ordinary woman with no higher education, I did not know much about business, profits and losses. But through several courses at Mission East, I and other women received an education that gave us enough confidence to start our businesses. ”

Experience with birds led to poultry

“As a business, I chose to start with poultry and hatching eggs, because I have experience of keeping poultry and birds. And because I can be with my family at the same time. Mission East gave me money to start up and also helped me buy poultry and pay for feed, vaccinations and medicine. ”

"Now my business is running well and I can contribute to the family income, buy good clothes and school supplies for my children."