SoftServe and UNFPA launched an online psychotherapy support platform Aurora

The Aurora online platform operates in Ukraine. It is a safe, free and anonymous service for survivors of conflict-related violence, including sexual violence. The main task of the platform is to provide specialized professional psychological support to survivors. For this purpose, it employs specialists who have experience working with trauma, including using EMDR therapy, which is a highly effective tool for dealing with traumatic cases.

The creation of the platform was made possible through fruitful cooperation between government, international and local partners. Aurora was implemented by UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund, as a rapid response to full-scale invasion, with the assistance of the Office of the Vice Prime Minister for European and Euro-Atlantic Integration of Ukraine and the Government Commissioner for Gender Policy, and with the support of the UK Government. The website was developed by SoftServe volunteers as part of the corporate pro bono program OpenTech.

Tackling gender-based violence has always been a top priority for the UK, and the British Embassy is proud to be able to support Ukraine to address violence and provide assistance to all who seek it, said British Ambassador to Ukraine, Dame Melinda Simmons. - The importance and timeliness of the Aurora app cannot be underestimated. This platform is already helping Ukrainian women and men seek and receive quality support to overcome traumatic experiences and make society stronger.

"From the early beginning of the full-scale war we have faced unprecedented challenges related to cases of different types of violence by Russians against Ukrainians. So, Ukrainian Government together with its partners had to develop a mechanism for comprehensive support for survivors. Aurora platform became one of the important elements of such a mechanism. It is important that citizens, who are not ready to go physically to the Survivors Relief Centers, can receive online support through Aurora completely anonymously", - said Olga Stefanishyna, Deputy Prime Minister for European and Euro-Atlantic integration of Ukraine.

It is very easy to get individually tailored help. A person needs to register on the platform, choose a specialist, and attend up to 15 free sessions with a psychotherapist or get advice from other specialists. Qualified support helps to overcome traumatic experiences, restore emotional balance and internal resources to rebuild life.

Aurora is an online platform that is an integral part of the GBV response and prevention system in Ukraine. It works with all survivors, regardless of their gender, age and whereabouts (either in Ukraine, abroad, or in the temporarily occupied territories). Aurora appears to be especially responsive to the needs of survivors from conflict-related sexual violence; who require quality comprehensive psychotherapeutic support as well as strict anonymity, confidentiality, and privacy”, said Jaime Nadal, UNFPA Representative in Ukraine.

The creation of the Aurora online platform gave Ukraine opportunity to develop specialized services of comprehensive and holistic assistance for survivors of sexual violence. Providing such assistance is the obligation and liability of the Ukrainian Government, international and public organizations,” said Kateryna Levchenko, Government Commissioner for Gender Policy.

The platform’s team takes a survivor-centered approach. Services are provided confidentially and anonymously, in compliance with high professional ethical standards, so survivors do not need to share any personal information. The entire story will remain between the person and the service provider. Counseling takes place by phone or online at a time convenient for the person, so even survivors in the temporarily occupied territories of Ukraine and abroad can receive help. The platform employs a case manager who ensures long-term support to survivors, helps them navigate through the services they need to avoid re-traumatization and increase the effectiveness of the assistance delivered.

In addition, the platform offers medical and legal services to address pressing health issues, including reproductive health, and protect rights. It has a psychiatrist and a gynecologist who can perform an examination and prescribe appropriate treatment, as well as a lawyer and an advocate who provide legal support and advice.

"The war has brought many horrors into our lives. It is a serious challenge not only to our physical but also to our emotional resilience. However, unlike civilians who have to deal with anxiety, guilt, or pain for the people who died, Ukrainians under occupation have to go through other terrible challenges. As longtime partners of UNFPA, we were happy to respond to the request to help create the Aurora online platform. We believe that it will become a center of safety for survivors of violence and will give them the opportunity to overcome this traumatic experience with the professional support of psychotherapists," comments Mariia Kucherenko, Director of Corporate Social Responsibility, SoftServe.

The platform provides assistance to everyone who applies; so far, more than 175 people have used the services. Find out more on the Aurora's website.

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The Aurora online platform was created by UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund, with the assistance of the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister for European and Euro-Atlantic Integration of Ukraine and the Government Commissioner for Gender Policy, and with the support of the Government of Great Britain. The website was developed by SoftServe volunteers as part of the corporate pro bono program OpenTech.