Overcoming Torture: AnAmymity

Amy is a survivor of rape as a form of torture perpetrated by three male members of the Wayuu indigenous community in Northern Colombia in 2012. Since her ordeal, Amy has bravely made continuous attempts to seek justice through the Colombian justice system; her efforts have been marred by delays in criminal proceedings, impunity, and revictimisation by the authorities. 

 As a result, Amy brought her case to the Inter American Commission on Human Rights in 2020, on the basis that the Colombian State failed to conduct a prompt, thorough and effective investigation.  Amy is a member of the Survivor Advisory Group and has run marathons raising money for survivors of torture and gender-based violence. 


Today I signed that I was happy for my photo to be used to publicise the Redress Survivor Advisory Group* with my name, Amy, but just Amy, no surname.  

I couldn’t articulate why I had created this new option for naming myself as I added it to the form (a. Use your name b. Use anonymous c. Use a different name) but I can now.  

I don’t want to be anonymous. The rapists treated me as though I had no name. The police treated me as though my name was “silly British girl who thought she could have a carefree holiday in Colombia”. The hospital delayed my release by incorrectly copying my name from my passport – naming me “Britissh Citizen” instead of asking me. My case has at least two very long numbers attached to it – one for the rapist who was believed to be under 18 and another case number for the two adult rapists. I imagine anonymous numbered folders being passed from prosecutor to prosecutor, a case that no-one wants to touch, rather than consideration to Amy.  

What other name would I suggest to accompany my photo? I wouldn’t want to inflict my story upon Alba or Beatrice or Carla. Also, if any good ever comes out of this, I want it to be in my name, not someone else’s. 

Using my whole name feels too much though. It feels as though I would be giving away too much. I still don’t have my real surname on social media. In case someone from the prosecutor’s office tries to message me on Facebook again. Or worse, someone related to the rapists finds me online.  

Amy definitely feels right.  

It’s who I wanted the rapists to see that I was. It’s how I want the prosecutors to consider my case. They don’t need to know everything about me. Just enough to think of me as Amy, a daughter, sister, friend, colleague and now wife.  

*I kind of don’t mind my photo being used, I’ve always thought it’s better to put a face to a victim, rather than a number, but having the photos taken did make me feel unexpectedly awkward. First that I was tired with big bags under my eyes. Then the returning preoccupation of whether I’m looking too happy, too relaxed, too anxious or not interested enough in the meeting to portray an authentic survivor of torture. I settled on becoming grateful for those dark circles under my eyes – surely a hesitant smile on a tired face would come across as genuine.

Written by Amy, 9/1/24.