TRAUMATISED torture victims have inundated a Glasgow-based human rights group with requests for help.

Freedom from Torture, based in the Gorbals, was only able to take on 30 per cent of the people who contacted them in the last year.

This means hundreds who have suffered physical and psychological abuse have not been helped.

And Freedom from Torture manager Norma McKinnon said even more may be suffering in silence.

The human rights group works with people who have been tortured or subjected to organised violence at the hands of corrupt regimes across the world.

They saw 156 people last year but, because of an already full case load, out of 100 referrals they were only able to take on handful of the cases.

Therapists work with the survivors - many of whom are still in pain from physical injuries when they see them at their base in the Adelphi Centre - to discuss their torment, address the psychological impact and help them rebuild their lives.

They also document the trauma on a forensic level.

Norma said the stories of the human rights "atrocities" are harrowing and shockingly familiar.

And many of the people they see, mostly refugees and asylum seekers, have suffered in the same countries - the majority came from Sudan, Sri Lanka, Iran and Eritrea last year.

Norma said that for these people the horror starts with detention.

She told the Evening Times: "In most cases you have probably been detained and not told why.

"In that moment you have no power.

"And then you are probably kept in really difficult environmental circumstances - unsanitary, food is withheld from you, there is an infestation or the place isn't tall enough for you to stand up or long enough for you to lie down.

"People talk about a smell, maybe of other people there, or blood on the walls.

"That is the environment but also the psychological introduction to what is to come.

"That is an act of torture in itself."

The list of torture 'tactics' range from mock executions to having to watch loved ones hurt or humiliated.

Norma said: "Physical torture includes beating on the soles of the feet or on the fingers.

"People also sometimes have their finger nails pulled.

"There is severe beating, suspensions, cutting, burning.

"Also restrains being used and electrocution.

"Added to that there could be threats to your family, humiliation - being forced to do things.

"And some of the psychological threats can be as real as hearing or seeing other family members being tortured or degraded.

"It can also be as severe as mock executions - having a noose placed around your neck and standing on an unstable surface and being told this is the end.

"But it is not a list and it's not just one of those things, it can be all of those things."

Speaking from her office, she added: "It is endless.

"If I list all the things we hear about - what human beings can do each another - it becomes just that. A list.

"But when you are sitting with another human being and you are trying to follow their eyes, and they are describing something that is very painful for them and you witness the impact and these actions are put into a context that, for them, is shameful or humiliating, and has sounds and smells attached to it - then you really engage.

"And it is shocking.

"That we do any of this to each other is profoundly shocking."

"This has to stop. We can't keep having torture in the world and expecting people to keep recovering from it.

"Something has to end and that is the only way forward."

Olivier Loko, who fled the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), said he wouldn't be here today if it wasn't for the help he has been given by Freedom from Torture.

He came to Glasgow alone as an asylum seeker in 2007.

Olivier was given a home, clothes and food to eat but said that - although he knew he was safe - he was still tormented by fear.

Olivier, who was targeted in DRC for speaking out against atrocities, was physically tortured on his hands and feet.

But the mental torture, details of which he did not wish to share, left him "lost".

He said: "I was tortured on my feet and fingers. When it is cold the pain comes back.

"Whenever the pain comes back it go back to the place, the memory comes back.

"I can still feel it but I am more equipped to deal with it now.

"The first change was having someone I could tell my problems too.

"If I had not had the help, I am not sure I would even be alive."

Olivier says that he feels like "one of the lucky ones" because so many others don't get the help they need.

Norma added: "Unfortunately there is a problem of resources.

"We are a small organisation here in Scotland and our capacity is limited.

"We can't do it all ourselves."

Freedom From Torture take referrals from GP's, mental health teams and people who work with asylum seekers and refugees.

Norma added: "We had about 100 referrals last year. That is an average number and that is with people knowing that we don't have a lot of capacity.

"We only took on a handful of them.

"Even with mainstream mental health services there may be a waiting list and maybe other difficulties with accessing services.

"We have helped people who have somehow slipped through the net."

Olivier said the recent images of the Syrian refugees landing in planes at Glasgow Airport as part of the UN Vulnerable Person's Relocation Scheme made him concerned.

He said: "I feel very sorry for them.

"I was thinking about that myself when I saw those people coming here, flying into Glasgow.

"I know how they feel.

"People just see them coming out of the planes, laughing and they give them clothes and food and even a house.

"I had clothes and food and a house but that wasn't enough.

"There are a lot of people here and they are not lucky enough to be connected to these kind of services.

"They have a massive problem.

"Firstly to deal with what they have been through otherwise it will be in vain trying to integrate them.

"We think that what we are doing is enough. It is good but it is just the beginning."

He added: "The people who torture are always developing their methods and trying to be sophisticated.

"The main purpose is not just to destroy your body but to destroy you inside."

"They take your control and insert their voice inside you.

"And when we come here, it is that position we come in.

"A body with nothing inside.

"People on the street must know that there are people living here who have suffered very bad experiences and they should not be looking at that passively.

"Or blaming them.

"We need more compassion.

"And it is in the country's best interests because it is easy for someone like this to become radicalised."

Norma added: "The Syrian resettlement brings its own challenges.

"It is fantastic what the local authorities have taken on and managed to achieve in a really short time frame - 100s of people since December. It is astounding.

"But they are all over the country and that is a challenge for me with I think about if those people do want our help how will we go about tackling that."

Norma: "One of the things we do is training people who work with trauma survivors.

"I don't think we would every be able to see every torture survivor in Scotland so it would be helpful if other people felt skilled enough to deal with them. Or do their part well."

Part time workers and volunteers with Freedom From Torture work with adults, children under 18 who have come to Scotland without a parent or guardian, and families.

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