Over the course of a few days in June, Abdulrahman described what she says are the details of her torture via Skype from her hospital bed. It is a series
of interviews that almost didn't happen. Her first, short interview was given to Al-Arabiya on June 6. After this, a person connected to the case told me,
a man from the Jordanian government visited her hospital to let the administration know that he was displeased they were treating a "terrorist." All
interviews, including my plans to speak with her, were canceled. Through the cooperation of various medical and social workers in Amman, we were eventually
able to connect. While tired, she agreed to speak multiple times through a translator and repeat what she made clear were painful memories.
Her ordeal began on April 29, 2011.
Abdulrahman is from an area in the southern part of Damascus called Al-Midan and had four children at that point. She was living a double life, fighting
"during work hours" to hide her FSA world from her husband.
One day in April she had gotten caught up in an incident in which a regime soldier was severely beating a 16-year-old boy at a checkpoint. Sick of the
constant brutality, she says, she tried to intervene. This is what led to her own beating and incarceration by the Assad regime.
During dark sessions over a period of 38 days, guards whipped her with a wire, strung her alternatively by her wrists and feet, and injected the crook of
her elbow twice a day with a kind of drug that made her feel high, she says. The things Abdulrahman recalls the men saying as they allegedly raped her
multiple times were so filthy she is loath to repeat them -- "it's too dirty and too low" -- although she remembers them saying, "Here is the freedom you
wanted" (a phrase similar to ones other women have reported
hearing while being raped in Syria). And she can summon up at least one face. And a couple of names.
Within an hour of her arrival at the detention center in Harasta, about 7 miles (12 kilometers) north of Damascus, where she was held in a cell with 20
other women, she says she was roused to consciousness and her torture began. She describes being gang-raped daily by men who smelled strongly of alcohol.
Floating in and out of consciousness, she would kick and yell as best she could while lying next to another woman doing the same.
"We were all blindfolded and raped and we would not know who was raping us," she says, tearing up for the first time in our interview. Before being
blindfolded, she could see what she calls the "boss" sit in front of them, teaching them "exactly what to do and say to us."
"They were ordered to take this one, to take 'your portion,'" she says. "And they would take it."
Abdulrahman describes to me how she and one other woman from her colorless cell, college-aged, were usually taken together to another room with no
furniture and raped. She remembers clearly the face of one man who tortured her. He was "very, very tan," she says, "very, very thin," and balding, she
says; he was one of the men who would hit her while she was hung from the ceiling.