Survivors Speak OUT (SSO) is a survivor-led activist network made up of men and women who have fled persecution and sought protection in the UK. Network members are all former clients of Freedom from Torture and come from around the UK.
Kolbassia Haoussou, Co-founder and Coordinator, explains more:
“Our common ground in the network is that we all have a lived experience of torture and we have all had to, and some continue to, seeking protection from the UK through the asylum system.
The network was founded by a small group of former clients of Freedom from Torture back in 2007. Our purpose was, and continues to be, to raise public awareness and influence decision makers about torture and its impact including the challenges facing survivors trying to rebuild their lives in the UK.
Our main aims are to:
- promote survivors' active engagement on issues that impact our daily lives
- raise awareness of the issues facing survivors of torture in the UK
- advocate against the use of torture and its impact
- campaign for greater investment in rehabilitation for survivors worldwide
- be the voice of survivors who have been silenced
We want to redefine the expert because we are more than case studies or 'testimonies' whose voices are appropriated by others in the fight against torture; we are experts seeking our own opportunities to engage and influence others.
Over the last ten years, we have spoken to thousands of young people around the country at schools colleges and universities. We have influenced decision makers in the UK and abroad including the UK Home Office, Members of Parliament, think-tanks, members of the European Parliament and the United Nations to name a few. We have also had our members’ views, events and articles quoted and published in the news and blogs. We have supported training and capacity building initiatives including for lawyers, doctors and officials in the UK. And we continue to do all of this.
When I came through my therapy at Freedom from Torture, I was determined to find a way to let other survivors know there is a way out. I wanted them to know that they could speak about their experiences but also that they should speak about their experiences, if we are to bring perpetrators of torture to justice.
It has been a difficult journey but today the network stands as proof that there is life after torture. Our torturers wanted to keep us silent but we have a message to spread and we will not be quiet until we have left our legacy."