Seeing the light at the end of the tunnel after 28 years

Mirella shares her story of recovery, helped by Freedom from Torture, after experiencing torture.

During the Bosnian War in the 1990s, Mirella was held captive in a concentration camp with her family. She experienced horror every single day, until she was rescued by the UN. The first city she arrived in was bombarded that same night, so she had to be moved to another city before boarding a plane to the UK.

Mirella arrived in a reception centre in Scotland alongside people she recognised from the concentration camp. “It was a very strange time”, she recalls. “Initially, you feel very joyous because you’ve been saved. You see that those who struggled alongside you in those camps are alive. But then joy came with fear. Fear was like a shadow that was following us wherever we went. We were all worried that everything we lived through would happen to us again”.

When Mirella’s husband sadly passed away, she knew it was time to look after herself. “I lost my role in the family as a wife and as a carer. I had that feeling that something wasn’t right with me, that I ought to seek help.”

That realisation led Mirella to Freedom from Torture. Opening up in therapy about her trauma seemed impossible: “I have gone to hell and back in the most horrible ways you could ever imagine. Extreme torture and abuse. Women like me are scarred for life."

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"We shrink ourselves and we are holding fear because of what happened. It doesn’t matter how professional or kind the person is – we just can’t trust anyone any more.”

Thankfully, Mirella managed to overcome this feeling because she felt safe with her therapist and her interpreter. “I was in a very dark tunnel. Thanks to them, I could see a light. I knew there was an exit out of the tunnel. I’m so thankful to Freedom from Torture, because sometimes we become frozen in our emotions.”

Thanks to your support, Mirella was able to access life-changing therapy. Now she is talking about the benefits of therapy to the women of her community, hoping that together, they can all heal.

Please note, Mirella's name has been changed and a model is used in the photograph to protect her identity.