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Facts About Torture

Last updated: July 19, 2023

Freedom from torture is a fundamental human right. It’s important to know the facts about torture so we can work to end it forever.

Torture is illegal.
Torture is a crime. It is explicitly banned by theUN Conventionagainst Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment. And it’s a crime under U.S. law. There are no exceptions.

Torture’s purpose is to:
· Break an individual’s will and render the person helpless.
· Destroy a sense of community.
· Stifle civil society.
· Create a climate of fear.
· Silence dissent.
Torture is used to break down people’s will, ultimately destroying trust and communities. When torture is used to create fear, people become afraid to speak up. CVT’s clients often tell us they were not tortured to gain information; they were tortured to punish, injure and silence them. Torture is about control.

Torture affects five basic human needs:
· The need to feel safe.
· The need to feel of value (self-worth).
· The need to feel some control over one’s life.
· The need to trust.
· The need to feel close to others.
The impacts of torture go beyond physical wounds and scars. Torture is used intentionally to impact how victims feel about themselves, about other people, and about their place in the world.

Torture is immoral.
There is no justification for torture. It is wrong because of its cruelty and abusiveness. And torture does not have to be physical; it can also be psychological. Both forms are calculated and systematic ways to dismantle a person’s identity and humanity.

Torture is psychological as well as physical.
People often think of the brutal physical impacts of torture, but the psychological impacts of torture can be devastating without rehabilitative care. Torture that does not leave a scar is still torture: humiliation, sleep deprivation, mock executions and other horrible acts create long-lasting damage and require healing.

Torture is used to control communities and families.
Torture is used to create fear across communities. When one person is tortured, the family learns to be afraid. Their neighbors and loved ones quickly learn to be silent. This happens quickly, and it spreads fear widely. People learn not to speak up.

Even children are tortured.
How could anyone torture a child? Why? It is hard to imagine. Yet, it happens. CVT clinicians in many locations extend care to children who were taken in order to force their parents to turn themselves in. In other cases, children are present and swept up during horrifying raids. But healing is possible.

As many as 1.3 million refugee torture survivors live in the U.S.
The UN reports that 110 million people have been displaced from their homes. This is a crisis unprecedented in history. And according to CVT’s research, up to 1.3 million refugees living in the U.S. have survived torture. This is as high as 44 percent of all refugees in the U.S. Your neighbor could be a survivor.

Rehabilitative care is critical to rebuild lives of torture survivors.
The impacts of torture can be long-lasting without rehabilitative care. Many survivors live with depression or post-traumatic stress disorder, along with the scars and physical pain of their injuries from torture. But healing is possible, and survivors rebuild their lives with the proper care.