Editor’s Note: Rehabilitation works and is a torture survivor’s right: this is the theme of this year’s 26 June campaign for the UN International Day in Support of Victims of Torture. During the next two weeks, we shall be posting testimonies, stories and experiences from torture survivors themselves. Their testimonies explain clearly – rehabilitation works and is a torture survivor’s right.
Many testimonies from survivors focus on their experience of torture. Others focus on their rehabilitation through the more than 140 centres in our worldwide network, who treat the victims of torture through a variety of holistic rehabilitative methods so that they might live as full life as possible after their experiences. This story comes to us from Transcultural Psychosocial Organization (TPO), which was founded in 2005 and is based in Kathmandu, Nepal.
Kunja* is a primary school teacher from the western district of Nepal. She was tortured, both mentally and physically, by the police in 2008. As a result of her torture, Kunja has had many behavioural and emotional problems. She could not sleep and constantly fell from her bed at night. She felt a deep sense of anger, isolation, fear and feelings of guilt. She often suffered from high palpitations, as her heart rate would increase, and felt uneasy breathing.
Kunja wanted to return to a sense of normalcy, but with these symptoms, she often feared mental illness or disorder.
Initially, Transcultural Psychosocial Organization (TPO) provided emotional support through their Reproductive Health Camp. Later, Kunja came three times to the same camp for counseling. She asked the organisation to help her overcome the emotional, psychological and physical problems she faced as a result of being tortured by the police. Kunja was referred to the central office of TPO in Kathmandu for clinical services.
At the central office, Kunja received special care and clinical counseling to improve her emotional state; she later came two more times to Kathmandu for follow-up sessions.
The counseling services at TPO addressed an array of problems that Kunja faced from her torture – the lack of sleep, fears of mental illness and worries about her relationship with her husband. The counseling services there helped to her to improve her sleeping issues and negative thoughts about her future life and relationship with her husband. Kunja very thankfully reports that she has a positive and supportive family that are helping her and supporting her in overcoming these problems. Unfortunately, she still faces ongoing problems with asthma.
However, with a trustworthy and supportive home environment, Kunja says now that she is very hopefully for the future and is very happy for that hope.
*name has been changed