This is the story of Ciwan, a 43-year-old man from Sulaymaniyah. He is a survivor of torture.
Ciwan is the father of two children of whom he takes care on his own as he has recently divorced his much younger wife. She had been unfaithful to him for several years and neglected their children. Him and his two boys currently live with his mother.
Ciwan was born into a wealthy family and had four brothers and fours sisters. One of his brothers was kidnapped and disappeared with 900 other people in 1978 and another one was executed in the 1980s. One day on his way home, our patient was stopped at a checkpoint and asked for identification. Without giving any explanation, the police arrested and transported him to the Iraqi secret service in Sulaymaniyah where he was held in solitary confinement and tortured for 15 days. Although he was blindfolded he could tell when they would come again: "I knew that every day at 10 o’clock it was torturing time again because I heard the opening theme of a series I used to watch before."
During interrogation, it was ice-cold. As soon as Ciwan tried to warm himself by putting his arms around his knees, his interrogators inflicted electric shocks on his neck. Ciwan was threatened with rape several times and experienced a sham execution: "They forced me to face a wall and told me that this was my last chance to confess. This night, I was severely beaten and unexpectedly released the next day."
After this ordeal, our patient became unsteady and switched from one job to another. When the relationship with his wife came to an end, his situation worsened and he sought help at the Jiyan Foundation. He showed us the sores on his neck and shoulders and told us that he had a constant ringing in his left ear. His right shoulder was swollen.
Our medical team could ease his physical problems with drugs but his psychological condition was much more difficult. Ciwan suffered from sleeplessness, was afraid of mustached soldiers and people in military uniforms and used to avoid large crowds. He had lost trust in others and himself and suffered from a very low self-esteem. His symptoms became aggravated under the influence of alcohol and he tried to commit suicide twice.
Our staff diagnosed Ciwan with a depression and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. During regular psychotherapy sessions we advised him on sleeping methods and breathing techniques and encouraged him to start seeing other people again. Most importantly, we learned that our patient was a talented painter, provided him with painting tools and exhibited his paintings at the Jiyan Foundation. Creative work has since proven to be very effective for Ciwan's recovery process.