What is Torture and Where Does it Exist?

Torture is a violent means of controlling, silencing, and intimidating individuals and societies. There is an urgent need for psychological and physical rehabilitation for torture survivors, given the fact that over two-thirds of the countries of the world actively or tacitly endorse torture as a means of political control.

How Many Survivors of Torture are there in the United States?

A meta-analysis of previous research studies on torture prevalence rates within refugee populations in the United States revealed that as many as 44% of refugees are either primary or secondary survivors of torture.¹ Applying the 44% torture prevalence rate to the overall number of refugees who have been resettled in the past 30 years, there could be as many as 1.3 million survivors of torture in the United States and 90,000 in Texas.

1 Center for Victims of Torture, “Updating the Estimate of Refugees Resettled in the United States who have Suffered Torture,” (Sept. 2015). http://www.cvt.org/sites/cvt.org/files/SurvivorNumberMetaAnalysis_Sept2015_0.pdf

In 2021, 325 of CST’s clients are children

Their needs are immense and unique. The horrors endured by refugee children mandate that counseling begin as soon as possible.  CST program goals are to help children process the trauma, heal physically and emotionally, improve family relationships, acculturate and become ready for formal education in public schools.  CST achieves these goals through a well-designed program of counseling in schools, other agencies and in our office, medical care, education, and case management.

Solutions Through Counseling and Related Services

We provide long-term mental health counseling, social services, legal and medical services, referrals, and training. CST offers free individual, family, and group counseling for survivors of torture that often focuses on trauma and grief resolution. Clients can share their experiences in a safe environment with a licensed counselor who is there to support them as they strive to improve their lives. Complementary activities include: English as second language training, mentoring, tutoring, resume building, job searches, finding housing, obtaining food, clothing, and navigating medical and legal systems. Bus cards, phone cards, and food cards are provided to those without resources.

Positive Results

With treatment from trained professionals, survivors can overcome the devastating effects of torture and trauma to live healthy, productive lives. From impact assessment, CST reports that clients are able to resolve grief and trauma, and to integrate the torture experiences into the larger context of the person they are. Clients and counselors together, choose objectives for clients, so they experience at least an eighty percent improvement in their symptoms, including depression, anxiety, and physical complaints.

In 2021, eighty-two percent of CST clients met their counseling goals within a 6-month period. Individuals are able to eat, sleep without nightmares, concentrate, and feel joy again. They have been debilitated by torture, but with treatment at CST, they are able to re-establish their lives. With your help and CST’s interventions, survivors can become dynamic members of their new communities.

We are expanding our organization to meet the growing needs of torture and trauma survivors who come to us for professional services and support.

Learn more about torture survivors in the United States and how specialized services help survivors here.

2021 Demographics

The core of all CST activities is rehabilitative care with optimal results for survivors in Texas. CST directly impacts the lives of approximately survivors and their family members each year. In 2021, this included 815 torture survivors who received care at four centers and remotely. CST provides clients Chromebooks or phones with data and digital training for their individual sessions and groups during Covid. 

In 2021, the Texas residents to whom we extended care were from 44 countries. The most represented were Democratic Republic of Congo, Afghanistan, Ethiopia, Cameroon, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nepal. More than half were men, and 47% were between 26 and 55 years of age.




Years Old

Languages other than English


Survivors were tortured for political reasons

Countries where torture occurred

Countries of origin

In the U.S. less than one year at intake

Hear how CST made a difference to Suresh