EXCLUSIVE: Torture Victim Speaks To Heart

A man who survived torture and received help in Birmingham - has been sharing his story EXCLUSIVELY with Heart.

'John' was tortured in prison in East Africa where his wife was killed - he was given electric shocks and made to watch people being killed. He was also sexually assaulted and bitten by crocodiles and snakes.

Hear more from our interview with 'John' - but a warning that it can be upsetting in places:

Freedom from Torture is the only organisation in the UK dedicated solely to helping individuals and families to cope with the physical and psychological impacts of torture and the consequences of living in exile.

In 2014, it received 150 new referrals from a total of 38 different countries. This shows a huge increase from 2013 when the centre received 105 referrals, however it is just 11 per cent of the referrals received by the charity nationally.

The psychological toll that torture takes is immense. Survivors report depression, panic attacks, flashbacks, insomnia and sometimes suicidal thoughts. Freedom from Torture responds to this by providing one to one counselling and psychological therapy.

Nationally, it received 1,313 referrals in 2014. The highest number of referrals came from Sri Lanka (341), Iran (195) and Pakistan (95).

Dr Sobia Khan works for the charity in the Jewellery Quarter in Birmingham and told us ''that's just the tip of the iceberg''

''We know of survivors who live in the region who are not ready to get therapy because it's too painful for them''

''We do have clients from Syria and British nationals who have been affected''

''As long as there are asylum seekers in this region we will see an increase in demand because 30% of them have been a victim of torture''

Survivors of torture in the West Midlands region have been facing difficulties throughout 2014 in accessing support and rehabilitation services, with funding limited for crucial services including mental health care and legal aid.

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