For Torture Survivors | Center for Victims of Torture

For Torture Survivors

You are not alone.

Many people have been hurt by armies, clans, gangs and people from the government. Sometimes these events can cause physical and emotional pain or problems for many years.

If you have had harmful things done to you during war or by government officials, you may:

  • Have bad dreams at night or have trouble sleeping
  • Be afraid or nervous
  • Feel very sad or angry or without hope
  • Be forgetful or not able to pay attention
  • Feel as if you cannot control your thoughts and memories
  • Be losing or gaining weight
  • Have headaches, stomach aches or problems eating
  • Feel like no one understands you or that your life was stolen from you.

These are just some problems torture survivors experience. There are many other ways torture changes people. If you are a survivor of torture and have any of these problems—or any other related problems-- you can get help.

Read about our healing services or call 612-436-4855 to learn about becoming a client.

Remember to take care of yourself. You deserve to feel better.

Learn about other torture rehabilitation centers through the International Rehabilitation Council for Torture Victims.

Connect with other torture survivors through Torture Abolition and Survivors Support Coalition International.

If you are seeking help but do not live near a CVT center, or if you are not a survivor of state-sponsored torture outside the U.S., please see the resources listed here.

Taking Care of Yourself After Traumatic Events

While we may not be able to control the things that cause us stress or bad feelings, we can find ways to manage those feelings. These activities cannot replace a professional, but they can help you feel better.

Breathe slowly. Breathe in slowly through your nose, counting to three. You should feel your stomach rise. Breathe out through your mouth to a count of five. As your breath leaves your body, imagine the stress leaving your body and notice how your muscles relax.

Use self-talk to reassure yourself. Talking out loud to yourself or just thinking positive thoughts can be helpful. Remind yourself that you are strong and brave. When you look at yourself in the mirror, tell yourself, “I’m a strong person” or “I can get through this situation” or whatever statement will help you feel better.  

Take time for fun and exercise. Spending an hour or two doing something fun can make you feel better. Watch a funny movie or TV show. Tell jokes with a friend. Go for a walk in the park and watch the squirrels running about.

Get enough sleep. When you are tired it’s harder to be healthy. Try to get eight hours of sleep a night so you are well-rested.

Limit or avoid using alcohol or drugs. Alcohol and drugs are not good for your body. Alcohol can make you feel sad or tired. Drugs can make your bad feelings even worse. Take care of yourself by finding other activities that make you feel good.

Stop watching the news. Wanting to know what is happening in your home country is understandable. But watching, reading or listening to the news too much increases stress levels. Taking a break from news reports for a day or two can help break the cycle of stress.


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

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