“Think of the resilience we already have”: a torture survivor's message on #IDSVT

The International Day in Support of Victims of Torture is a time to recognise what survivors of torture have been through and to call for the international community to stand against torture. But it is also a time to acknowledge and celebrate the strength, courage and resilience of survivors in the face of the most brutal human rights abuses. 

Blog by Natasha, Member of Survivors Speak OUT network

When you think of a person who has survived torture, a refugee, a person who is claiming asylum in the UK, who do you think of? Maybe you think of someone who needs your help?

Being persecuted, being forced to leave your home, your friends, your country, obviously has a huge impact on a person. Torture wants to make you silent and disappear. But, each one of us who has been able to rebuild our lives has fought torture and won a battle against it.

Today is the International Day in Support of Victims of Torture. Today is the day to celebrate and stand in solidarity with those of us who have survived. Too often, torture survivors are thought of as victims who need saving. People who have not lived through experiences like us focus on the vulnerability they think we have. Today is the day to recognise the resilience that every person who has survived torture and fled his or her home country has. 

People who have not lived through experiences like us focus on the vulnerability they think we have. Today is the day to recognise the resilience that every person who has survived torture and fled his or her home country has.

We survived the most brutal human rights abuses, sometimes because we actively fought against those abuses in the first place. We then found the strength to escape human rights violations. 

We found the courage to undertake, for many of us, long and dangerous journeys by ourselves, to places completely unfamiliar to us. Sometimes where we did not even speak the language.

We then found the energy to fight for our rights again where we sought protection in, often battling hostile immigration policies and governments who spent years telling us we were lying and that they would send us back to more torture.

We had the tenacity to rebuild our lives; to get an education; to retrain and learn languages so we could be part of society.

After all that, some of us, like those of us in Survivors Speak OUT and Write to Life, found even more strength to fight back and make ourselves heard so that no one else would have to go through what we did.

When you think of a person who has survived torture today, think of the resilience we already have. Think of our ability to keep going regardless of how hard things got. Think of how we did not let the huge challenges we faced change us forever. Think of how we still manage to draw a smile on our faces.

When you think of a person who has survived torture today, think of the resilience we already have. Think of our ability to keep going regardless of how hard things got. Think of our faith and trust in ourselves, that when the time was right we would have the answer. Think of how we did not let the huge challenges we faced change us forever. How we kept hope, even in the darkest times. Think of how we still manage to draw a smile on our faces.

Stand in solidarity with us today. Share this  on Twitter and Facebook.

The UK has a proud tradition of offering safety to people fleeing torture and persecution.  But times are uncertain and these values are under threat. It's time to take a stand. Will you sign our declaration and join us?

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