My Rehabilitation Journey
This blog is by a former client from Freedom from Torture and a member of the Survivor Speak Out network who wishes to be known as 'The Survivor's Voice'. In light of this year's theme for UN International Day in Support of Victims of Torture, he blogs here on what rehabilitation means to him.
There are many different definitions of rehabilitation but, as someone who has been through it, for me that definition may vary from one survivor to another.
In my opinion the definition is simple: rehabilitation is about giving the human being affected by torture the chance to reintegrate back into society as a stronger person, even more productive in their community and family. This is what I am aiming for on my rehabilitation journey.
My painful story started in my home country, where the regime decided to silence me because of my political opinions. Then began the string of torture. Life became difficult. I wanted to die and began slowly retreating from people around me, seeing others as ferocious animals ready to eat me alive – as a lion might battle down a large hippo.
But there were a few people who stood by me, believing that I could have another chance. Counselling at Freedom from Torture was my first step. They put in place all the necessary tools (one-to-one counselling, therapy in Freedom from Torture's gardens, group counselling, user involvement and speaking out as a survivor). You name it, I went through it. Slowly, my fear and hate began to fade away, leaving me as an empty vulnerable shell – but still very strong and resistant to outside difficulties. In the service user group I started building my confidence and began to overcome the impact of being confined in a room with others – something which had previously affected me.
Through the SSO (Survivors Speak Out) Network I was able to rebuild myself through training, participation and public speaking. I now see in myself the confidence I had before I was forced on this uncertain journey. I can speak freely to different people and I feel proud and thankful to all the people that made this journey possible.
The Wider Impact
My rehabilitation has also had a profound impact on my life and those around me. My partner spent so many years living with me whilst I was having these problems. I would often wake up in the night screaming, break down in tears or just start talking to myself loudly. My constant fear made me feel distant from my children for many years.
Since rehabilitation, I can now support them emotionally, help them in school whilst my partner is at rest and this, in turn, has enabled her to complete her own studies and get back to work. My family are much happier and everybody is doing their little bit to improve our community as a whole.
For those who tried to silence me, the message is simple: "mission failed".
For the UK government and other governments worldwide, the message is clear: "not only is rehabilitation a right, but its positive effects are not only for the individual - they can be helpful for the entire nation."
~ The Survivor's Voice