Freedom from Torture client K was a successful businessman supporting an extended family in the Democratic Republic of Congo. His family included his teenage son, of whom he won legal custody after a divorce, and three adopted teenagers from a relative who had been killed. He became active in the political opposition to the regime of DRC President Joseph Kabila and led marches and demonstrations. This led to his arrest and torture by the police on three separate occasions in 2011. While in detention, K experienced beating, cigarette burns, rape, had his ankles bound with wire, was left without food, forced to drink foul water, and was kept naked. He fled to the UK after his final detention in December 2011 after a relative posing as a regime soldier organised his escape. K spent all his savings getting to the UK.
On arrival in the UK while making his statement to his asylum lawyer, K became so distressed his lawyer referred him to Freedom from Torture.
When K first came to Freedom from Torture, he had thoughts of suicide and had intense feelings of humiliation from being raped. He was depressed, had difficulty sleeping, and felt guilty about the family he had to leave behind in the DRC. He feared that the relative who had rescued him had been killed by the regime – something which was later confirmed by his relatives.
K experienced significant physical and psychological trauma as a result of his torture. He continues to experience physical pain as a result of his rape and physical torture, scars from where his ankles were bound, and cigarette burn scars on his arms and back.
He has a deep and powerful awareness of how far he has been dragged down – from being a powerful, successful businessman who was pursuing legitimate political aims, to someone barely surviving on assistance from the UK’s National Asylum Support Service. He felt trapped living in a single room, frightened to go out because of racial abuse in the very deprived part of the North West of England where he was living, and very afraid that he would be sent back to the DRC to face detention, more torture and death.
Regarding his support from Freedom from Torture, K said: “I would not survive without you.” He explains regularly that the changes FFT helped to achieve and the support provided have given him a sense of security and care that are very valuable. Psychological Therapy has enabled K to explore the impact of his experiences in the DRC; process his traumatic memories in a managed way; deal with his fears of living in exile and grieve his losses. It has also enabled him to explore his guilt for leaving family members behind. Our music therapy group, Stone Flowers, is relieving his isolation and building his self-confidence.
K was recently granted refugee status and will be supported through the transition to being a refugee. He is recovering psychologically from his experiences and building a network of friends and external support.