The doors of the TBS clinics in the Netherlands opened for the curious on Saturday. A number of TBS’ers and employees tell the story from within the walls of the Woenselse Poort in Eindhoven. “People with a special story live here,” says director Gertrude Graumans.

    The Woenselse Poort is a forensic psychiatric clinic where TBS’s are also treated.

    In a hall with a number of cell doors is Karen Weekers, team leader of the department where people who have been admitted for a long time are located. She is responsible for 26 clients. The cell doors are reminiscent of a prison, but it is absolutely not. “Here people are not locked up, they have already served their sentence in prison. We are here to treat the people, we see them recover and society becomes safer.”

    “You don’t have to be afraid of the people in a TBS clinic.”

    Roberto is forced to stay in the TBS clinic for a year. “Life here is very tough,” he begins. “I have a family, I have children. I want to change myself and in order to achieve that goal I really need to understand where things went wrong. That is heavy.” Roberto does not want to say the exact reason why he should be treated, but it concerns violence and property crimes.

    “You don’t have to be afraid of the people in a TBS clinic,” he says reassuringly. “No one naturally wants to hurt another, there is a cause behind it.” He is happy that they are open doors of the clinic. “It is often very closed, but I want to show that I work hard on myself. I’m taking therapies and trying to face myself. I will soon be accompanied outside for the first time, the first steps towards recovery.”

    The rooms in the Longcare department, residents can walk in and out freely.
    The rooms in the Longcare department, residents can walk in and out freely.

    Director Graumans is happy that Roberto shares his story with the visitors of the open day. “There is quite a stigma on us because we are a psychiatry with, among others, TBS’s. It’s always the intense stories that come in the media. But in general it is not dangerous here.” She emphasizes again that it is not a prison, but that there are fences and drug dogs.

    “It’s full. It’s really busy.”

    The residents of the clinic have a lot of freedom of movement on the site. For example, they can take walks, take care of animals, work with wood or follow music therapy. Ezra is busy with dogs. “These dogs come from the shelter and have often experienced something intense. They come to us twice a week and we can take care of them.”

    This helps Ezra to take responsibility, among other things. She has been in the Woenselse Poort for almost a year. “I was given a TBS order by the judge, but after that I spent another two years in prison because there was no room.” That hit her hard.

    “It’s full. It is really very busy,” says Graumans. “At the moment 100 people are waiting for treatment in a psychiatric institution. We can only store about 250 here.”

    “Everyone deserves a second chance, and they’re working on that here.”

    Rowan can be found at music therapy. “Music is important because you can express your emotions in it. It makes you happy and it gives you strength,” he says. “I also wrote a text about my past. I was very depressed.” While visitors to the open day take a look at the music room, Rowan lets you hear his rap. “Fack alcohol, drugs and tobacco. I’ve had enough, I want to live clean day by day. That is an assignment, that is what is expected of me. Being a good father to my son gives me strength.”

    Rowan and Roberto are not the real names of the interviewees. A fictitious name was chosen because of the privacy of the TBS’s.