Some of the Nigerian girls kidnapped by Boko Haram have been freed, but their vale of tears has not ended with their liberation. There are tragedies so deep, suffering so vast, that it’s hard to know what to say in the face of them. Certainly it’s hard to know what to do, even for those who try to help.

These are young women and in many cases young girls who were initially subjected to the trauma of kidnapping. Then they were raped over and over again, sometimes by different men or sometimes by a particular man who maintained he was that girl’s husband. They were kept prisoner, harangued, indoctrinated, and often became pregnant and bore the children of their captors.

For them, even the process of being freed was devastating, violent, and sometimes resulted in the death of some of the captives during the melee. And now that they are free, they are further restricted—to special camps run by the Nigerian army—and ostracized from society.

Perhaps worst of all, their present treatment makes a certain amount of sense, because they had been brainwashed into Boko Haram’s ways at an early age and there is the possibility that a recent uptick in the number of female suicide bombers in Nigeria may be at the hands of some of the ex-Boko-Haram hostages. So the fear is that it’s very difficult to tell who among the ex-hostages would be the enemy and who would not.

It’s a terrible story of human suffering at the hands of a malignant force (Islamicist terrorism of the Nigerian variety), and the efforts to alleviate the situation for the girls/women have been relatively futile:

Once a week, Halima and Hamsatu attend group therapy sessions in a tent that says “Safe Place for Women and Girls.”

There they are known as “the sisters” because of how close they’ve become. They gather in a circle on the floor with about a dozen other women. The counselor repeats a few lines during each meeting. Hamsatu and Halima wait quietly for them, wishing they were true.

“What has gone has gone.”

“You are safe now.”

“You are secure now.”

Perhaps some day these girls/women will actually feel safe. I wouldn’t bet on it. Right now their stories seem even sadder, if possible, than those of the three women kidnapped, tortured, raped, and psychologically abused by Ariel Castro, because for the most part they don’t have loving homes or society to return to and are considered to have been shamed by their rapes, as well as feared for their potential violence.

Why don’t they have loving homes to return to? All too often their families were murdered by Boko Haram, too.

[NOTE: As if that weren’t terrible enough, here’s another story about a group of children who were held by Boko Haram and by the time they were rescued they had forgotten their native tongue, their names, and their histories.]

[Neo-neocon is a writer with degrees in law and family therapy, who blogs at neo-neocon.]