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What is Torture?


An overwhelming 82.4 million individuals have been displaced due to war conflict, persecution, and/or unstable political infrastructure contributing to record numbers worldwide (UNHCR, 2020). These refugees, asylum seekers and internally displaced persons often endure severe hardships including torture and other traumatic events (Campbell, 2007; Porter & Haslam, 2005). Many refugees experience chronic traumatic stressors throughout war, during flight and the resettlement process. Additionally, post migration living difficulties and daily stress have been shown to exacerbate the impact of war related trauma (Miller & Rasmussen, 2010).  The impact of war, including instances of torture can be far reaching, not only affecting individuals who have directly experienced emotional and/or physical torture, but the extended families and communities within which these individuals live.

Psychological intervention is imperative for many survivors of torture suffering from mental health symptoms related to their torture history. Specialized services requiring evidence based, culturally responsive intervention can effectively decrease distressing psychological symptoms. Additionally, building coping and emotion regulation skills, increasing valued living, as well as bolstering strengths and resilience factors all contribute to reducing functional impairment and improving quality of life.

Torture is...
"...any act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a person for such purposes as obtaining from him or a third person information or a confession, punishing him for an act he or a third person has committed or is suspected of having committed, or intimidating or coercing him or a third person, or for any reason based on discrimination of any kind, when such pain or suffering is inflicted by or at

the instigation of or with the consent or acquiescence of a public official or other person acting in an official capacity. It does not include pain or suffering arising only from, inherent in or incidental to lawful sanctions."

-U.N. Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment
Full text of the Convention against Torture

For more information about the issue of torture and torture treatment:
National Consortium of Torture Treatment Programs
Heal Torture - Resources for those who serve torture survivors
World Organization Against Torture

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