Frequently Asked Questions

Q.  What is torture?
Q.  What are the effects of torture?
Q.  Why is torture wrong?
Q.  What does CVT do?
Q.  Where does CVT work?
Q.  How many torture and war survivors does CVT care for each year?
Q.  Where do most torture and war survivors in the Twin Cities come from?
Q.  How do torture and war trauma survivors hear about CVT?
Q.  What are CVT's public policy priorities?
Q.  How is CVT funded?
Q.  What is New Tactics in Human Rights?
Q.  How can I help?

Q.  What is torture?
A.   Torture is a deliberate and systematic dismantling of a person’s identity and humanity through physical or psychological pain and suffering. Torture’s purpose is to destroy a sense of community, eliminate leaders, create a climate of fear and produce a culture of apathy. The most common forms of torture reported by CVT clients are beatings and psychological torture. There are an estimated 30,000 to 40,000 torture survivors in Minnesota and 500,000 in the U.S. The United Nations definition of torture is contained in the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment.

Q.  What are the effects of torture?
A.  Torture can lead to multiple disabling conditions that interfere with even the most basic functions of daily life. Symptoms can include chronic pain in muscles and joints, headaches, incessant nightmares and other sleep disorders, stomach pain and nausea, severe depression and anxiety, guilt, self-hatred, the inability to concentrate, thoughts of suicide and posttraumatic stress disorder. Torture and war trauma survivors can become immobilized by their feelings and symptoms, unable to function within their communities or contribute to their family’s well-being.

Q.  Why is torture wrong?
A.   Torture is not an effective means of interrogation and does not yield useful or truthful information. It is, however, a highly effective means of controlling populations. Torture and war trauma also affect five basic human needs: the need to feel safe, the need to trust, the need to feel of value (self worth), the need to feel to close to others, and the need to feel some control over one's life.

Q.  What does CVT do?
A.  CVT provides care for torture and war survivors and their families. CVT trains local mental health paraprofessionals in the countries it serves. These counselors can contribute to the long-term mental health needs in their country and act as advocates for human rights. CVT provides technical assistance and training to torture survivor rehabilitation centers in the U.S. and around the world to strengthen each center’s mental health services, organizational management and financial stability. CVT conducts research on and evaluation of rehabilitative care for survivors to determine the effects of torture and the most successful treatment. CVT engages in public policy and public education initiatives to prevent torture and to increase government support for torture rehabilitation programs in the U.S. and abroad. CVT directs the New Tactics in Human Rights Project and manages HealTorture.org.

Q.  Where does CVT work?
A.  CVT provides care for torture and war trauma survivors and their families at CVT’s Healing Center in St. Paul, Minnesota; for Somali refugees in the Dadaab refugee camps in northern Kenya; for Iraqi and Syrian refugees living in Jordan.; for refugees living in Nairobi, Kenya; and for Eritrean refugees in refugee camps near Shire, Ethiopia.

Q.  How many torture and war trauma survivors does CVT care for each year?
A.   In St. Paul a team of care providers works each year with approximately 250 survivors and 700 family members of survivors who receive some kind of support services. In the international locations CVT provides care to about 1,800 survivors through group and individual counseling.

Q.  Where do most torture and war trauma survivors in the Twin Cities come from?
A.  The majority of new clients to our St. Paul Healing Center come from Africa. Many CVT clients are well-educated and were leaders in their home communities. Several were tortured for their political affiliation.

Q.  How do torture and war trauma survivors hear about CVT?
A.  Many survivors hear about CVT through word of mouth in the community and referrals by health care, legal and community services organizations.

Q.  What are CVT’s public policy priorities?
A.
To learn about CVT’s public policy priorities, visit the Advocacy page.

Q.  How is CVT funded?
A.  CVT is funded by earned revenue from program services and government contracts and by contributions from foundations, individuals, corporations and the United Nations Voluntary Fund for Victims of Torture.

Q.  What is New Tactics in Human Rights?
A.  Through our New Tactics in Human Rights Project, CVT promotes tactical innovation and strategic thinking within the international human rights community. Through a vast network of workshops, publications and online discussions, local activists can share strategies and tactics that have worked elsewhere and apply them to new regions or issues.

Q.  How can I help?
A.
To learn more about how you can make a difference in the lives of torture and war trauma survivors, visit What You Can Do.

 

Healing

We heal victims of torture through unique services and professional care worldwide.

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Training

We strengthen partners who heal torture survivors and work to prevent torture.

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Advocacy

We advocate for the protection & care of torture survivors and an end to torture.

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