Mr A.K. was already living in Hungary, spoke the language and had occasional jobs, when he contacted Cordelia Foundation in order to ask for a medical expert opinion that he needed for his asylum process.
It took several sessions until he was able to create the trust with Cordelia’s therapist and was able to talk about his story. As he already spoke good Hungarian, an interpreter was unnecessary, they could proceed in Hungarian. It turned out that he had both severe symptoms of PTSD and depression.
During the therapies, he opened up about his story. One of his sister’s was a fighter of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), thus he was summoned by the police, who asked him questions about his sibling’s whereabouts. He told them, that he only knew, that she was fighting in the mountains, he did not know where exactly. He never wanted to be a part of the fighting, he was a salesman. However, the police thought otherwise: they thought that he had more information about his sister, than what he had told them before. They put him in jail. They wanted to force him to give an incriminating testimony about his sister and the other soldiers. He said he didn’t have further information, so he was tortured in many different ways (beaten with cable chords, whipping, burning, hanged by his wrists etc.) in order to make him confess. They tortured him every day for about 2 months.
On the last meeting for his expert opinion, he also told the therapist, that he thought he was impotent, as he was also tortured by electrocution through his genitals. During the medical examination it was proven, that he was tortured by electrocution regularly in both his ears, fingers and genitals. The persecutors made him believe, that he will not be able to have a family and stay impotent for the rest of his life.
The Hungarian Immigration Office questioned his credibility at first, however after he submitted the medical expert opinion, he received the refugee status. His case was supported by the lawyers of the Hungarian Helsinki Committee.
After he received the refugee status, the real therapy could start: facing his past and the torture he endured. It turned out that he truly does not know anything about his sister, who unfortunately died in combat and only her body was sent back to the family. He was afraid to go back for his sister’s funeral due to the fear of being tortured again. This was very hard for him and it took him quite some time to accept it during therapy. He also felt sorry for his mother, who was still in Turkey alone, widowed and without her children. He supported her as much as he could from Hungary.
After a ten session long therapy he got better. The therapist also managed to convince him, that his torturers lied to him and that he will be able to have a family. A year went by, when he contacted his therapist to tell her, that he was getting married. He met a Hungarian woman, who he would like to marry. Later on they also had children.
Years later, he was completely symptom-free, no sign of his past traumas. He spoke Hungarian perfectly and offered the Foundation, that if they need one, he would happily be a Kurdish translator. Cordelia’s colleagues gained a funny, happy spirited and great translator colleague. Unfortunately, listening to the stories of other tortured people resulted in him having flashbacks. Thus the Foundation decided to let him go. After he stopped visiting the refugee camps as an interpreter, his flashbacks disappeared straight away.
The good connection remained and he still visits the Foundation from time to time. He lives happily with his family in Hungary.
* In order to protect the client’s rights relating to personality we have changed her name and some minor details in the story.
This post was originally published on Cordelia Foundation.