Torture makes the news every day, but what about the individual stories behind the headlines? What happens to the people forced to flee from atrocities and repression when the interest of the world's media fades?
Life after torture
Torture is a practice used to intimidate, repress and dehumanise. Torture pushes people to unbearable extremes of physical and psychological pain. Its survivors sustain serious injuries and are often forced to witness the violent subjugation of those around them. The psychological impact is long-lasting.
‘They say torture is an act of killing someone without their dying. I am still alive, but inside I feel no life. I don’t know who I am anymore.' Amir, Middle East
A holistic service
How can survivors who have undergone torture, like Amir, be enabled to become a part of their own recovery? Former Clinical Services director Alex Sklan explains Freedom from Torture’s approach:
‘Freedom from Torture’s centres bring multidisciplinary teams to work together under one roof. The approach has enhanced our ability to give clients a cohesive service and has been a major step forward in being able to treat an individual as a whole person.’
As the only organisation dedicated solely to the treatment of survivors of torture and organised violence, Freedom from Torture takes a holistic approach to rehabilitation, catering for the unique needs of survivors. It provides medical consultation, forensic documentation of torture and psychological therapies and support, as well as practical help for people who have survived horrific abuses of their human rights.
Life in the UK
Having escaped torture and persecution, the majority of the survivors helped by Freedom from Torture arrive in the UK as asylum seekers and refugees, where their difficulties are often far from over. Many must navigate the complex and bureaucratic asylum system in which their experiences can appear to be diminished and discounted.
The uncertainty of their present and future can be compounded by the distress of having to recount over and over again the horrors from the past in order to secure their refugee status, and therefore safety – as well as living in exile with such painful memories, surrounded by hostile voices in the media and host communities. Moreover, many fear being returned to their torturers.
From Baghdad to Birmingham: read more about Freedom from Torture clients
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