Persons who have experienced torture and other human rights violations, suffer from psychological and often simultaneous physical afflictions. The most common of these occur in the form of pain, which may come from actual physical injuries, but often this pain has psychosomatic origins. These are the physical expression of the feelings that have been experienced during the traumatization.
These traumatized persons suffer from headaches that are particularly strong when they wake up in the night from nightmares; they suffer from back pain, when depression weighs the body down; or they suffer from shoulder and neck pain, from living in a permanent state of fear and alertness, causing increased muscle tension.
The ongoing psycho-emotional stress can also worsen other existing physical conditions such as high blood pressure, or diabetes. Traumatized persons often suffer from digestive disorders and eating disorders; women who have experienced gender-specific violence often experience lower stomach pain and irregular menstruation. Chronic sleep deprivation resulting from this stress then leads to physical exhaustion and an increased susceptibility for infections.
At the Center ÜBERLEBEN, these persons are able to be medically diagnosed and treated, in the context of a holistic psychosomatic-oriented concept. The medical doctors at the center are also trained psychotherapists and work closely together with psychological psychotherapists and social workers. Psychiatritic experts allow for a comprehensive diagnostic and treatment. This is particularly important for those with serious, chronic and complex traumas, but also for those who have just arrived in the country, who are most recently traumatized, where the acute afflications may be reduced from an initial medication therapy.
After a comprehensive diagnostic, the medical practitioners at the Center ÜBERLEBEN can issue, when required:
- Statements that physical or psychological afflictions as consequences of torture may exist, which can be officially filed in legal proceedings concerning refugee status
- Statements concerning questions of possible health related reasons to avoid deportation, as well as
- Attestations for social concerns relating to the improvements of the social and material living conditions of patients as a reason for their stabilization and psychotherapeutic treatment
The psychotherapeutic treatment is then carried out by medical or psychology consultants.
Further more, the medical department of the Center produces comprehensive expert assessment reports for legal cases of refugees by order of the federal administrative tribunals throughout Germany. The Center ÜBERLEBEN may also issue, if requested, statements for legal cases against perpetrators, as well as assessment reports for victim compensation cases. Additionally, since 2003, medical and psychological practitioners from Berlin, as well as other parts of Germany, can take part in further training and supervision courses. These courses take place in an intercultural setting, together with torture victims and civil war refugees, and investigate the topics of assessment and treatment.