Program for Survivors of Torture & Trauma (PSTT)

Ensuring victims receive the support they need to rebuild their mental health and well-being

Torture is the intentional infliction of physical or mental suffering in order to extract information or punish. It includes physical, sexual and psychological assault, aimed to destroy the human spirit and strike fear into the community. Survivors are left with physical, emotional and spiritual scars. The Washington, D.C., metro area is home to an estimated 40,000 survivors of torture.

Torture victims are often isolated and depressed as a result of their ordeal and relocation. Many survivors of torture adapt well in their new country, needing minimal services to overcome fear of repatriation, language difficulties or economic adversity. For others, however, the impact of torture is devastating. These survivors’ normal adaptive mechanisms have been damaged by torturers’ efforts to break down their personality and spirit.

Our Services
PSTT offers a full range of free services to more than 150 individuals every year, including medical care, mental health care, legal aid and social services.

All the three criteria of the Torture Victims Relief Act of 1998 (TVRA) must be met. For questions, call 571.748.2800.

Criteria 1: An act committed by a person acting under the color of law;

Criteria 2: Harm inflicted on the client must have been intentional;

Criteria 3: Intention was to inflict one OR more of three types of harm:

  1. Severe physical pain
  2. Severe physical suffering
  3. Severe mental pain and suffering

To get help, please call 571.748.2800.

Overcoming Trauma

Psychologically and physically I was devastated. I could not sleep at night. Nightmares and fear invaded my nights. And in daytime, migraines and horrible images haunted me. I couldn’t imagine that one day, I could write about all of this — PSTT is the most marvelous thing that could have happened to me. — A torture survivor from Ivory Coast