…In the course of her intensely lived life, Bamber, who helped found Amnesty International, once put a torture hood on her head to describe to a court what it feels like — the suffocation, the gagging and the panic in the dark — and has spent decades counselling people who will never recover from the bodily and mental insult.
You don’t get better after torture. It is the most isolating experience possible, and this is what the torturers intend. Every day, Bamber dresses with precision and elegance — it’s a form of armour, she agrees — and goes to her London office to sit with and listen to people who endured it.
Bamber campaigned for codifying medical ethics in Britain, helped build the now-thriving Medical Foundation for the Care of Victims of Torture and now operates her own Helen Bamber Foundation, offering clinical help. The waiting room is worrying, with people who look simultaneously dead tired and alarmed. They are very, very thin.
What I’m trying to find out from Bamber is where she gets her strength. How do you see the worst that humans can do and then confront it over and over again in a lifetime?…