A photo from the Airbel Impact Lab archive
Democratic Republic of Congo

Comparing Mental Health and Socio-Economic Programming for Survivors of Sexual Violence in Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo

This study aimed to identify low-cost, scalable interventions that demonstrably improve the mental, social, physical, and economic functioning of survivors of sexual violence living in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). While social and economic development in  conflict-affected areas like eastern DRC relies on populations who are ready and able to work, the psychological effects of conflict and sexual violence may mean that survivors living in these low-resource areas are less able  to engage in economic opportunities even when they are available. Currently, little data exists on which strategies are most effective at helping survivor increase their ability to function.

This  project  investigated  the impact of  a mental health  intervention (interpersonal  psychotherapy) and a socio-economic  program (VSLAs) on specific domains  of social, physical, and economic functioning, and on the reduction of mental health problems associated  with experiencing sexual violence, including depression, anxiety, and feelings of stigma and shame. While the program was diverse in terms of its elements and who received them, the evidence from this study suggests that  a service program can improve the mental health and functioning of women affected by GBV.


  • Final Report: Study of Effectiveness of a Social-Economic Intervention for Sexual Violence Survivors in Eastern DRC
  • Final Report: Addressing Sexual Violence Related Trauma In Eastern DRC with Cognitive Processing Therapy
  • Controlled Trial of Psychotherapy for Congolese Survivors of Sexual Violence
  • Economic, social and mental health impacts of an economic intervention for female sexual violence survivors in Eastern DRC
  • The Effect of Cognitive Therapy on Structural Social Capital: Results From a Randomized Controlled Trial Among Sexual Violence Survivors in the Democratic Republic of the Congo
  • Stigma Among Survivors of Sexual Violence in Congo: Scale Development and Psychometrics