Giving refuge: reflections on working with asylum seekers.

J Pain Symptom Manage. 2010 Jul;40(1):149-54.

Giving refuge: reflections on working with asylum seekers.

Roth K.

Department of Medicine, The George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences, Washington, DC 20037, USA.


Ten years ago, a psychiatrist colleague asked me to see Annie, a young Cameroonian woman who was seeking asylum in the United States, because a medical examination would be helpful to support the applicant’s case. Annie was not easy to interview. She spoke in a whisper, made little eye contact, and sat in an attitude of fear, with her shoulders hunched and knees drawn in. When she was 20 years old, she was arrested and abused in prison, and the story she told me was chilling: For two weeks, she suffered daily beatings, food deprivation, and multiple sexual assaults before a sympathetic soldier helped her to escape. The soldier told her that if she were rearrested, she would be killed…

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