“I said to the psychologist, when I tell this story I see a film playing in front of my eyes, in my head. A film—or a dream? I don’t know. If I go to sleep, I can sleep without end, more than 20 hours at a time.


Pitshou. Photo: Ghislain Massotte/MSF

It happened in August when I returned to my village. Some armed men came to attack us. It was in 2017 I think.

I don’t remember well, it’s all still very confusing for me. They crossed the river to my village and killed lots of people. I fled along with some other young people.

But on the way, we were caught by another group of armed men that we ran into. They took us with them, back to the village, where they tortured us and treated us like slaves. We had to go and collect water for them.

We also had to do things more horrible than that: they forced us to rape several of the mothers of our village. When I say “mother”, it’s a Congolese expression. None of them was my mother but they were the mothers of our village nonetheless.

All the young men of the village were forced to do this. If someone didn’t do it, they were killed.  I don’t remember well, but I think I had to do it to six or seven women.

When the armed men had gone, local authorities came from Tshikapa to find us, as if we too were criminals.

I fled with some of the other young men but we split into different directions and I began to walk on my own.

At the time I wasn’t working because I had had a kidney operation 10 months earlier and I was still recovering. After two days I began to feel really unwell, just like after the operation.

I arrived here three months after all that happened. I didn’t know if there was any care available for someone like me.

But I heard about MSF at the church where I go to pray when a doctor working at the hospital came to talk about the free care being offered there.

When I went to the hospital the doctors and the lady psychologist took me into their care. My kidneys were really hurting me but things weren’t going well in my head at all, either.

I had to undertake some tests and I spoke a lot with the psychologist. Since then I’ve been taking medicine and I’ve noticed some changes: I have less pain, even if I’m not fully well yet.

I feel that I’m on the way to something better, but I’m not completely sure yet. Sometimes I find myself talking to myself, as if in a dream.”


Read another testimony of a survivor of sexual violence here.