The land of milk and honey: a picture of refugee torture survivors presenting for treatment in a South African trauma centre.Torture. 2010; 20(2):92-103.T
Intake data obtained from 55 refugee torture survivors accessing trauma treatment services at a centre in Johannesburg, South Africa, paints a picture of suffering beyond the torture experience. The intake forms part of a more comprehensive monitoring and evaluation system developed for the work done with torture survivors accessing psychosocial services. The diverse sample with different nationalities highlights that torture occurs in many countries on the African continent. It also highlights South Africa's role as a major destination for refugee and asylum seekers. However, "the land of milk and honey" and the process of arriving here, often poses additional challenges for survivors of torture. This is reflected in the high levels of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (69%), anxiety (91%), and depression (74%) for our sample, all of which were significantly correlated. The loss of employment status from before the torture experience until the time of intake was great for this sample, impacting on their recovery. In addition the presence of medical conditions (44%), disabilities (19%), and pain (74%) raise serious questions regarding interventions that focus mainly on psychosocial needs. No significant gender differences were found. The paper begins to paint a clearer picture of the bio-psycho-social state of torture survivors accessing services in South Africa, as well as highlighting many of the contextual challenges which impact on recovery.