Fatou's Case

As Fatou reached the age of 15 and thus became “marriageable”, the neighour found a wealthy man who would pay to take Fatou as his second, younger wife. Fatou was desperate, robbed by the adults around her of any protection in her young life, and turned to a market trader who had known her mother for advice. On each of her seldom visits to the market, Fatou pleaded with the woman to help her. Finally, after many torturous months, the market trader was able to organize Fatou’s escape. After arriving in Germany, however, Fatou was faced with sexual abuse once again as she had “landed” in a brothel. After more than a week she summoned enough strength to escape from this place. She was arrested by police on the streets, and finally brought to a home for underage refugees in Berlin. There she at last received suitable care for her age, she could go to school and found a room in a youth share-house.

Fatou was admitted to therapy after she had told her story and began increasingly to develop behavioral problems. She could not sleep, had recurring aggressive confrontations with children her own age and expressed suicidal behavior. At first she came to therapy unwillingly, and shut out attempts to reach her. Her distrust of other people, based on her many experienced of violence and exploitation in her young life, hindered the development of a relationship with the therapist, the basis for any successful therapeutic treatment. Only gradually, and after she had “tested” the security of the relationship and found it acceptable, was Fatou able to allow therapy and therapist into her life.

Fatou is now able to regularly attend her therapy sessions and has allowed her therapist a small insight into her tightly closed and hermetically secured inner world. She can also better recognize body language and understand what it means. She is able to manage her aggressive impulses much better, and determine if she faces a real danger, or if “the film in her head - with the events from that time - is beginning”. The therapy has not yet come to an end for Fatou, but she has finally arrived at a place that is safe.