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Healing and Human Rights: A Blog by the Center for Victims of Torture

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Marie Soueid is a Legal Fellow in CVT’s Washington, DC office. She graduated from the American University Washington College of Law and was a recipient of its 2014 Human Rights Brief Award.

Paul Orieny, Ph.D., LMFT is a clinical advisor with CVT.

 

Earlier in the summer, I visited our Nairobi project to check in on our clinical work.  One day, I joined a men’s counseling group for their second session. It’s a group of gentlemen – from teenagers to 70-year-olds and all ranges of profession. These men are Rwandese, Burundi and Congolese, and it’s amazing how they have come together.

Refuge: Caring for Survivors of Torture is an insightful one-hour documentary about the experiences of torture survivors and those who provide care to them. It highlights the need for appropriate, sensitive care for all survivors who seek refuge in the United States. Interviews with a number of survivors as well as professionals working at torture rehabilitation centers – including CVT – humanize and demystify the process of healing after extreme violence.Producer/director Ben Achtenberg spoke to us about his film. Ben is the owner and project director of the Refuge Media Project, in Boston, Massachusetts.

This month, psychotherapists from 24 torture survivor rehabilitation organizations in the United States gathered in St. Louis for a two-and-a-half day advanced clinical training on complex trauma in torture survivors. Each year, CVT’s National Capacity Building Project holds an institute for professionals to come together to focus in-depth with their colleagues across the country on a particular aspect of torture survivor rehabilitation.

Judith Twala, MA, is a psychotherapist/trainer with the Center for Victims of Torture in Dadaab, Kenya. Dadaab is the world’s largest refugee camp in the northeast region of Kenya, close to the Somali border. Most refugees in this complex of camps are from Somalia with others from South Sudan, Eritrea, Ethiopia, the Democratic Republic of Congo and other countries.

Kalo Sokoto is a Counseling Supervisor with CVT's healing initiative in Nairobi, Kenya.

I have an experience which, even after months, I cannot seem to shed from my memory.

Rosa

On 26 June 2014, CVT staff, volunteers and board members gathered in the St. Paul Healing Center with survivors of torture to commemorate the anniversary of the Convention Against Torture. Rosa Garcia-Peltoniemi, Ph.D., L.P., Senior Consulting Clinician, offered these remarks to honor all survivors.

We are honored to observe the United Nations International Day in Support of Victims of Torture at our St. Paul Healing Center, where a community of providers, interpreters, and volunteers help heal and support survivors in rebuilding their lives.

Every year on June 20, we pay tribute to the courage, strength and resilience of refugees.

Video of Bike Night in St. Paul, Minnesota What has two wheels and can play a big role in helping torture survivors heal physically and mentally? If you guessed a bicycle, you’re right.

We spoke to our colleagues with CVT Jordan about emergency mental health care. Leah James, CVT psychotherapist/trainer, and Simone van der Kaaden, Country Director-Jordan, discuss what it means to provide care in a situation where refugees face significant ongoing challenges and how they use “vicarious resilience” to counter a dark world view.

Can you describe what emergency mental health means?

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

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

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

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