Mission Statement: The Center for Survivors of Torture exists to facilitate healing, ease transition into new beginnings, and foster hope in survivors of torture, by providing specialized services addressing their comprehensive psychological, medical, and social needs; generating legal referrals; providing training opportunities for state-of-the-art professional service delivery; and collecting outcome measurements.
CST Values: Integrity, Compassion, Making a Difference.
History: Center for Survivors of Torture has been providing integrated services to torture survivors in Texas since 1997. CST initially began as a project of Proyecto Adelante, a Dallas non-profit that provided legal services to seekers of political asylum. While addressing the legal needs of its clients, the staff of Proyecto Adelante found that as many as one-third of the clients had personally suffered torture, had witnessed torture or knew someone who had been tortured. The legal staff was unable to address the mental health needs of the clients, which impeded the staff’s legal representation of the torture survivors.
In 2000, Center for Survivors of Torture became an independent 501(c)(3), based in Dallas. In 2005, we opened a second office in Austin. In addition to main offices in Austin and Dallas, CST maintains satellite offices in San Antonio with Our Lady of the Lake University. CST clients also receive services from pro-bono professionals who are trained by CST to be culturally competent and linguistically diverse professionals to meet the health, mental health, legal and other needs of torture and trauma survivors.
In 2013, CST expanded to provide services for all refugees living in Texas and Oklahoma, living in the United States under five years. Our objective is to decrease the numbers of refugees experiencing mental health symptoms, specifically symptoms associated with post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, and adjustment disorder.
The program also increases the number refugees with chronic and persistent mental illness, such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, who are able to access supportive services such as Supplemental Security Income, state programs, and community/peer-support resources. Reduction in symptoms and access to support systems allows refugees to be more successful in education, employment, and interpersonal relationships, increasing their self-sufficiency and integration into American communities. Twelve percent of refugees coming to the U.S. resettle in Texas and CST is the only comprehensive mental health services provider. We are expanding our organization to meet the growing needs of torture and trauma survivors who come to us for professional services and support.