Youssef’s Story | Center for Victims of Torture

Youssef’s Story

Youssef’s name was published on a list of journalists being targeted in Iraq.

When the first person on the list was killed, Youssef* fled to Syria. However in 2012, the situation there deteriorated, and he moved back into Iraq, continuing to work as a journalist. It was very difficult; he was forced to move frequently in order to be safe.

Then Youssef’s older brother was killed in a spate of killings attributed to ISIS in northern Iraq. Youssef began receiving threatening phone calls and texts, telling him to leave Basra. In 2013, a group of men stormed his home, beating him with their guns, dragging him outside and attempting to put him into the trunk of their car. Youssef put up a fierce struggle, and his screams attracted his neighbors, who came out of their homes and fired warning shots. This prevented the kidnapping.

Youssef never learned which group targeted him this second time. He didn’t report the attempted kidnapping because he believed he would not be protected. Instead, he went to the journalists’ union for help applying for a visa. He left Iraq for Jordan.

Youssef came to CVT Jordan seeking rehabilitative care for the symptoms he was experiencing after surviving these atrocities. He went through the counseling cycle and after taking on this healing journey, Youssef wanted to speak out about what was done to him. He hopes that sharing his story will bring attention to the treatment of journalists and citizens of Iraq and, one day, create change and restoration of human rights.


*Name and some details have been changed for safety and to protect confidentiality.
Photo credit: Dreamstime.

Funding for CVT’s work in Jordan is provided by the United States Department of State’s Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration and the United Nations Voluntary Fund for Victims of Torture.


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