Here are the four stories of brave Ukrainian women, who came forward to tell of their experiences in the aftermath of a full-scale Russian invasion, and share how they benefited from professional psychological counseling and mental health support. Each story offers a unique perspective into the lives of Ukrainian women, their shared sense of pain, but also hope.

Each of the women were served by Nelia Lekhnovska, a Ukrainian psychologist-counselor, who herself fled from the war with her family, and has since been helping many Ukrainian women heal from trauma.

1. Olena’s Story (30 years old)

My name is Olena. I lived in in a village near Chernihiv, – the region that was occupied by Russian invaders. Fighter jets were flying above our house, they bombed a tower so that we had no phone or internet connection. There was heavy fighting in the nearby villages, I was just looking and seeing how the Russian invaders bombed my native city, Chernihiv, where my three little nieces were stuck in the bunker for two weeks, where all my friends and family were. I suffered terrible two weeks of fear and hunger (I had food, but I just couldn’t eat). My biggest fear was that they would come to our village and rape me. I saw war often in my dreams as well.

I came to Nelia with many problems: depression, apathy and insomnia after the war started. She agreed to help me with loving care, free of charge. I saw results starting from our first sessions. Nelia possesses a gift and a talent for counseling. She can accurately reach the most important points to help you and at the same time embrace you with love, as if you were her younger sister 🙂

As no one else, Nelia understands what our women need after living in such fear. This is of the same importance or even more important than any financial aid. We just need psychological help now as never before, but most women don’t have finances. I ended up being in a far away country by myself. Everything is foreign to me here, but sessions with Nelia are for me as a gasp of fresh air and a restoration to life.

2. Victoria’s Story (16 years old)

My name is Victoria. I came to Nelia with the problem of sexual abuse. It was a very dreadful experience, which influenced my whole life. I was afraid of men for a long time…

Nelia helped me a lot, I started loving myself more. I had problems with sleeping, panic attacks, depression and nutrition. I could overcome all of that ))

Of course I will never forget these horrible events, but now I can stop constantly reminding myself what I went through and can normally face it. After each session the burden was falling off of me, because Nelia listened to me. She was always supporting me and giving different advice.

I was very afraid to speak with the psychologist, I expected condemnation or even mockery, but with Nelia it was very comfortable and peaceful. I am thankful to Nelia for helping me cope with this old trauma ?

Sexual abuse is very terrible thing and no one has to keep silent about it.

3. Ivanka’s Story (56 years old)

My name is Ivanka. First of all, I am very thankful for the help I received from Nelia. 

When the full scale war started in my country, I became overwhelmed with a feeling that I live in a parallel reality – war, bomb shelters, alarm backpacks, anxiety for my family, especially for the 19 y.o. son who enrolled in the army as a volunteer. 

However, life is still going on. In my medical practice I need to be attentive to my patients, who can also be very depressed, or even aggressive. I started having anxiety disorders, complete reluctance to work, I couldn’t take care of home, cook food and at the same time I had terrible bouts of eating everything I could see. I understood that I couldn’t survive without any help… 

I have heard from my friend very good recommendations about Nelia. After having the first two sessions my life started to get better, and after the full course I couldn’t recognize myself. I became more stable and when the same problems approached I could remember the methods we practiced with Nelia, and was able to fight by myself with consistent results!

I always remember that if it gets very hard again, I can sort out my anxieties and overcome any life situation.

4. Halya’s Story (41 years old)

My name is Halia. I live in Crimea – Ukrainian territory that is now occupied by Russian aggressors. I knew Nelia for a long time as a counselor who helped people to live through the hard periods of their lives.

Recently, after going through very hard circumstances, I felt that my life had just shut down… I suffered from difficult panic attacks, and it felt like I was going crazy. I was thinking that I was the only one with such problems. I stopped sleeping, lost appetite, started losing weight and had other health related problems. Each new day was like a temptation for me. I was thinking that this was the end of life, only darkness filled my mind.

Nelia accepted me, understood me, and gave me hope that this period of life would pass. I desperately needed it. We had many meetings and after each meeting I gained hope that I’ve lost and saw a light at the end of the tunnel. This is the person who could enter into my world, accept it, walk by my side, support me and show hope. I am thankful to God that in the very hard moment of my life He sent me Nelichka. Although our official counseling has already ended, Nelia remembers me and from time to time calls me to find out how I am doing.