Equine therapy lifeline

Gopal, 42, is from Sri Lanka. He fled from his country after being tortured and lived in the UK for some years before he arrived at Freedom from Torture. At his local centre, Gopal likes to go to equine therapy as it allows him to take his mind off things and connect with the horses.

Blog by Gopal

"When I first came here, it was like I was at the end of my life. 

"I have depression, PTSD, I am low on energy all the time and I don’t know where to go and what to do. So I come here and I have therapy. For four years I have been having therapy. I am now getting better. I got my status now, a couple of weeks ago. 

"When I first started coming to Freedom from Torture, I was at 10-15%. I’d say now that I’m at 60-65%.

"At first I wasn’t able to manage myself. Still, I thought, I have my family and I need to help them. I was finding everything quite difficult. I didn’t know where to go or why I felt like this. But once I started coming here, I started to understand myself and what has made me like this.

"Last year, the Home Office decided to deport me. When I received the letter it made me feel even more depressed. Even my therapist found it difficult because it was never stable. I was living in assisted accommodation and I had to go for reporting and I found it all incredibly overwhelming as I was constantly worried that I was going to get deported.  

"I had a solicitor at another charity, but they were unable to help me after a certain stage. Freedom from Torture then stepped in and were not only helping me with therapy, but with protection and legal aid. They helped me with all the things I didn’t know how to do, they even helped me with my family life. I submitted my application and I had my papers within a month.   

"Still, I don’t have refugee status for me and my children, they have given me two and a half years leave to remain and then I have to renew. 

"It’s a very difficult thing for me because I am not able to get support from my family. I have to look after my kids and my family and I can’t share these things with my wife, if I told her then she would get frightened. So I keep everything with me.
Freedom from Torture helps me a lot. Sometimes we have equine therapy and those days are great for us. It helps us to understand more about ourselves, why we are the way we are. 

"The day that we went for equine therapy, I didn’t feel like I was in the mood for horse riding. At first, I found it really difficult to make the horse do what I wanted. Then the lady told me, 'Maybe you’re not thinking, maybe you have too many thoughts, that’s why it’s not doing what you want.'

"Then, I actually thought about what I wanted the horse to do and it did it. It made me understand that I have to be aware of my thoughts. For people like us, this is an important realisation. 

"I feel like Freedom from Torture has helped me have a second birth."