“Shut up, or I’ll show your child his mother’s brains spread around the house!” This was the threat Russian soldiers said to Natalya, not her real name, before they took turns raping her as her 4-year-old son was crying in the next room.
Natalya, 33 years old, and her husband, Andrey, 35, lived near Shevchenkove village in the Brovary district, just outside Kyiv. There, the couple built their first home close to a pine forest.
“We were planning a child, and we were dreaming about our first home,” said Natalya, as she shared her story with The Times of London. “We wanted to live closer to nature. That’s why we didn’t live in the city. My husband put his heart and soul into building the house, and everything was made of natural wood and stone. We even used to go into the forest to pick litter that other people had left behind.“
Unfortunately for the couple, Brovary became one of the early hotspots of the conflict as Russian forces tried to take hold of the Ukrainian capital, Kyiv. After the Russians entered their village on March 8, Natalya recalls putting up a white sheet in front of their house to signify that they were civilians and posed no threat to the Russian forces.