A Ukrainian woman has recalled the horrific day she was dragged into an attic room by a Russian soldier – who ordered her to undress at gunpoint before raping her.
Just days before, in March 2022, Russian forces had rolled into her village in Kyiv Region during the early days of Vladimir Putin’s invasion of the neighbouring country.
Karina, who was 20-years-old at the time, told the MailOnline that the invaders had started going door-to-door and moving into people’s homes – sometimes taking them hostage.
On the third day, the Russian positions in the area came under fire from Ukrainian artillery, prompting them to start smashing their way into homes to seize laptops and phones from the villagers.
Troops forced their way into Karina’s home and blamed her and her boyfriend for giving away their positions to the Ukrainian army, with one soldier firing a gun just inches from her boyfriend’s head.
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Karina, who was working at a hospital at the start of the invasion, was dragged away by one Russian soldier, who forced her into her neighbours’ abandoned home and upstairs to an attic room.
Speaking to the MailOnline, Karina said: “I remember seeing used condoms strewn across the floor. I understood that I wasn’t the first to be taken there.”
The Russian pointed his gun at her and ordered her to undress before raping her.
When he had finished he told her he would rape her again and kill her if the Ukrainian bombardment started again – or if she told anyone what had happened in the room.
However, Karina told her family and boyfriend about what had happened, and eventually fled the village when Ukrainian shelling started again.
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Now 22-years-old, she recalled: “At some point I just broke down and cried for hours. I felt like I was dirty, like I was a disgrace.”
The incident had a huge impact on her relationship and she broke up with her boyfriend shortly afterwards – as he found the incident shameful and had not wanted her to tell anyone.
Karina reported the incident to the Ukrainian authorities and they showed her photos of the soldiers who had targeted her village.
She was able to identify her attacker and he was found guilty in absentia, meaning it is not likely he will ever actually be jailed for his actions.
Karina, who is now married and has received counselling, now works as a case manager for the Andreiev Family Foundation to help survivors of sexual violence.
She told the MailOnline: “It’s so important to not keep silent because the soldiers who did this, they would just live normal lives if we said nothing and it’s not fair.
“They should be prosecuted, they should face justice. They should answer for their actions.”
She added: “I want to share my story to help other survivors of sexual violence – so that they know everyone can survive through this and go and live their lives. They can stay strong and live through all these really awful circumstances.”
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