A Hyena Came to My Rescue

"My fellow Muslims, people who spoke the same language, had the same religious beliefs and lived in the same country wanted me dead.  But an animal- a HYENA- came to my rescue."

The hands-on nature of torture lends it particular power. The ways we can brutalize others are terrifying, and why torture is so corrupting of individuals and societies. Sometimes torture is used to attack those seen as “other” – a different faith, different ethnicity, and different sexual orientation. But in this story, one survivor describes his shock that his torturers shared his language and his faith. It is the very personal nature that can destroy a survivor’s trust in humanity. Judith Twala, MA, CVT psychotherapist and trainer in Dadaab, relays this story of a torture survivor.

The eighth session of our group therapy covers the stories of survival. Among the many survivors I have listened to, the story below touched me in a very unique and special way.

“I was born in Somalia, and when war broke up in Somalia I was among the many men who went through very painful experiences. I was beaten and kicked with heavy shoes by the Al Shabaab guys. Blood oozed from all the openings in my body and I felt very weak. These guys’ intention was to leave me dead or nearly dead.

“One of them struck my neck with a sharp machete until my neck was hanging. They then tied me to a tree and left me to die. The bleeding was so excessive that I felt very weak.  Ten minutes after the Al Shabaabs’ departure, I heard some movements. Rolling my eyes in despair I saw a hyena. Now I was sure the hyena had found a ready meal.

“To my surprise, the hyena pulled the rope that was tying my hands and I fell down. More surprisingly, the hyena just went its way and I was left lying on the ground. I was too weak to walk but knew I had to do something to save my life. I held my head straight to stop the bleeding and crawled slowly towards the road. Fortunately I was found by good Samaritans who rushed me to the hospital.

“Because of the seriousness of the cuts and injuries, I remained in the hospital for 3 months. What I can never forget is that my fellow human beings tortured me and left me to die. My fellow Muslims, people who spoke the same language, had the same religious beliefs and lived in the same country wanted me dead.  But an animal- a HYENA- came to my rescue.

“I believe Allah sent the animal to save my life, meaning our life us in the hands of Allah. Up to today, I have no trust for human beings. It is in these group sessions that I have learnt to trust people again. CVT has removed me from the darkness of suspicion; I can listen to others empathize and support others. I will never forget CVT, I will tell others about the magic CVT did for me. I am a new creature, am changed and am very happy for making a decision to join this group.”

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