What is Torture?

According to the United Nations Convention against Torture (UNCAT):

“For the purposes of this Convention the term ‘torture’ means 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 acquiesce of a public official or other person acting in an official capacity. It does not include pain or suffering arising only from, inherent or incidental to lawful sanctions.”




Where is Torture practiced?

The orange this world map represents countries where reports of systematic and/or widespread use of torture prevails.

map courtesy of REDRESS, www.REDRESS.org

How is CST serving Torture survivors in Texas?

In the last 13 years, Center for Survivors of Torture has served clients from 65 countries who now reside in the United States. We have served clients from Cuba, Nepal, Ethiopia and Kenya to name but a few nations.

CST is the only accredited mental health care provider of specialized torture treatment services in Texas and surrounding states.

What types of clients and issues does CST work with?

  • Asylum Seekers
  • Asylees    -
  • Refugees    -
  • Victims of Human Trafficking

And in within each of these populations Torture can affect clients emotionally, physically and spiritually.

Symptoms of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) are common with our clients. Symptoms typically decline throughout treatment, but the possibility of re-traumatization is ongoing. Common symptoms of PTSD for CST clients include: flashbacks, backaches, headaches, paranoia, stomachaches, hopelessness, nightmares, emotional numbness, loss of appetite.

Some clients require medical attention for conditions or illnesses related to torture or from the (often dangerous) journey here.

Process of Treatment:

How the in-take process takes place:
After receiving a referral, the CST therapist sets an appointment for the intake interview within 7 business days. This 75 minute long appointment includes meeting the client, introducing other staff members, and creating a sense of trust and safety at the Center. The intake consists of documentation of primary reasons for coming to CST, demographic information, family and current household data, legal status, employment and educational status, and medical history. An interpreter is present for this process when needed. The HIPAA document, which is the United States patient privacy law, is explained and signed by the client. Variously, more than one appointment is needed, as clients have different degrees of comfort with signing papers. If the therapist deems the referral meets CST client eligibility, the CST Authorization Form for Services is signed by the client and provider. Based on the extensive amount of data that we cover in the intake interview, the therapist begins the referral process, requesting that the Client Services Coordinator provide the client with information about any urgent basic need requirements such as food, housing, transportation, and health. The therapists at CST have established a network of affiliations that can be easily accessed. When indicated, certain mental health issues must be referred for evaluation for possible hospitalization in a psychiatric facility. We evaluate mental status during the intake and in following assessments, looking for symptoms of depressed mood, suicidal and homicidal ideation, anxiety, delusions, orientation, and memory to name several. CST’s approach not only addresses mental health stabilization through therapeutic interventions, but also helps clients adjust to the immediate reality of their new and foreign surroundings. CST utilizes the Harvard Trauma Questionnaire to assess posttraumatic stress symptoms when clients enter treatment. Scheduling of future appointments completes the intake process.

Efficacy of Treatment:

According to client surveys, 80%+ of clients who receive services regularly for three months report they have a significant reduction in symptoms, both in frequency and intensity.

Visible Results of Treatment

  • Clients are able to eat, sleep  and work normally without nightmares or flashbacks.
  • Asylum seekers are able to present their  “story” and cooperate in their legal case.
  • Clients are able to live comfortably here and send money home, giving their new life added meaning.
  • Other grants and individual donations.

What are CST’s Accreditations and Affiliations?

  • Accredited by the International Rehabilitation Council for Torture Treatment (IRCT) since 1997
  • Founding member, National Consortium of Torture Treatment Programs (NCTTP).
  • Program Development Committee and Inter-agency Committee of the Texas Consortium of Refugee Program (T-CORP)
  • Member,  Physicians for Human Rights.

How is CST Funded?

CST respectfully receives funding from the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR), United Nations Voluntary Fund for Victims of Torture (UNVFVT), The Meadows Foundation, Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service (LIRS), The Stillwater Foundation, Donald D. Hammill Foundation, Junior League of Dallas, Shield-Ayres Foundation, LCRA and private donors.

CST Clients

Nearly two-thirds of countries participate in, or tacitly endorse, torture as a means of political and social control.  An estimated 500,000 survivors live in the U.S., and estimated 45,000 survivors in Texas and Oklahoma.

Our Centers provide services to clients from Africa, the Middle East, Central and South America, Eastern Europe, and Southeast Asia.  In the last 13 years, we have served clients from 65 countries.  Most clients are highly educated and provided leadership in democratic movements.

Types and severity of torture vary, as does the individual reaction and appropriate treatment.  While some clients are recent survivors, others have long-term symptoms for many years.

Clients have been referred by NGOs, lawyers, doctors, homeless shelters, emergency rooms, refugee resettlement agencies, faith communities, domestic violence workers, law enforcement, universities, immigration officers, and friends.

If you need our services for yourself, clients, or a friend, please call or contact us.

In addition to our centers, CST works in partnership with medical, legal, faith, social services, and refugee agencies involved with torture survivors.  Through on-site trainings, consultations, videoconferencing, and site visits with local collaborators, CST staff share their expertise with the community.

CST Staff & Board


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