Strengthening Support Networks: Empowering Psychological Resilience in Crisis Response

The Head of the Department of Quality Assurance for Mental Health and Psychosocial Services at the Community Self-Help NGO, Marta Pivovarenko, conducted a two-day training session for staff members of the newly established specialized unit within the Office of the Prosecutor General – the Coordination Center for Victim and Witness Support.

Marta Pivovarenko on the Impact of Psychological Components on Support Quality:

"In the spring I conducted trainings for the Ombudsman's office, which oversees families of missing persons or individuals held captive – civilians and military hostages currently in enemy territory or prisons. As the number of such requests began to grow into the thousands, they faced the necessity of expanding the network of coordinators and training these coordinators. Each request represents a hidden human tragedy. At that time, I realized that people working with such an amount of pain and shattered human destinies need to, on one hand, provide them with the opportunity for psychological support, and on the other hand, equip them with deeper knowledge about the state in which a person finds themselves during stress. This will significantly improve interaction. And this experience strongly helped me to set the right priorities in preparing for the training for the Coordination Center for Victim and Witness Support at the Prosecutor General's Office."

About Preparation and Challenges:

"Only a few months ago, the process of establishing a separate Coordination Center for the support and assistance of victims and witnesses in the Prosecutor General's Office began. That is, this is a newly established structure in the Prosecutor General's Office. It includes both experienced professionals and young specialists with no experience. All of them participated in an intensive training to improve teamwork capabilities. The training was organized by the Smile UA Charitable Foundation with the support of the Law Enforcement Section of the U.S. Embassy in Ukraine. My component in this training was precisely working with sexual crimes related to the war. And for the organizers from Smile UA, who involved me in these trainings, it was very important that I already had experience not only with gender-based violence but also with violence related to the war. I took on a co-trainer – my colleague, Yulia Paskhina, who also had experience working in a coordination center with prisoners of war. She became something like a "direct contact" with the state institution that had worked in this direction a little earlier."

About the Training:

"During the training, we emphasized many aspects, including how to communicate with relatives of people who have experienced sexual violence during the war... Sexual violence is often a quite taboo topic, and sexual violence associated with the war is an even more burdensome issue. People who worked in the prosecutor's office usually dealt with "guilty" individuals. And now they are in contact with people who de facto would never have crossed paths with the law enforcement system if not for war crimes. Therefore, for lawyers, there was a lot of new and noticeable work. On the long path of supporting victims and witnesses to the international court against Russia, it is extremely important to be able to provide the necessary psycho-emotional support and sometimes become a "support" that fills with strength at each subsequent stage. Therefore, it can be said that for the staff of the newly created structure, this is also a great challenge and a test of endurance and competence. After all, to some extent, the reputation of our country depends on how they work and whether they will bring cases "to the end". The participants themselves evaluated the training as "very necessary", "giving more understanding and confidence about future communication", and "expanding and deepening knowledge about taboo topics in society".

The activity of Community Self-Help NGO is made possible by the generous support of the American people through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and is supported by ISAR Ednannia within the Ukraine Civil Society Sectoral Support Activity implemented by ISAR Ednannia in partnership with

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