Families are struggling to cope with the brutality of what they have seen, with many traumatised and battling bouts of depression.
Oxana Harbolinska would have liked to escape Kherson earlier, but it took her weeks to find petrol to fill up her car’s empty tank. She did eventually, via a sketchy contact who agreed to meet one evening on a street corner and sold her smuggled Crimean petrol for almost £3 per litre.
Six weeks – and several panic attacks – into the full-scale invasion of Ukraine, the 37-year-old mother packed a few belongings, put her two sons –10 and 15 years old – in the car and fled Russian-occupied Kherson. But the horrors the family witnessed in the early days of the war would continue to haunt them.
Now living in neighbouring Moldova, Harbolinska, who is a psychologist and single mum, said that she had come across countless families like hers: mothers battling their own quiet wars of trauma and depression, and children struggling to cope with the brutality seen throughout Ukraine.
She admits that “as soon as we arrived in Moldova, my body gave up. I completely disengaged. I fed my children but I barely ate myself. It took me months to regain my strength.” She only started working again recently and is now offering counselling services to struggling mothers and children.
“The war follows you for a long time, even when you’re in safety,” she told The Telegraph, adding that her psychologist had offered her the necessary emotional support for her own recovery.
Read on below…The quiet war being fought by Ukraine’s mothers