Since 1985, The Center for Victims of Torture has helped restore the health and humanity of more than 23,000 men and women who have endured suffering that’s difficult for many of us to imagine. “Our name conjures images in the listener that are very hard to contemplate,” says Pete Dross, CVT’s director of policy and development. “People have an almost visceral reaction to the word ‘torture,’ and they don’t want to think about it.”
That’s why visitors to the CVT’s St. Paul Healing Center—which offers tours to the public twice a month—are often surprised to hear how upbeat the interdisciplinary teams of physicians, therapists, social workers and psychologists are about the direct services they provide to some 250 clients every year. “It’s a very hopeful place when you understand the work here in the context of healing,” Dross says. “The worst things that can happen to a human being have already happened to our clients, and when they come here, they get better.”
The CVT works to create a world without torture, and its reach extends well beyond Saint Paul: The organization shares its evidence-based torture rehabilitation efforts in training programs around the world, while also providing torture triage in Africa and the Middle East. Since 1999, efforts have included providing mental health services to refugees of Sierra Leone’s civil war, serving Somali refugees in Kenya’s Dadaab camp, and creating a healing project for Iraqi refugees in Jordan. —
HOW TO HELP
Spread awareness by inviting a CVT speaker to come to your school, church or service club. Make your request at cvt.org.
Contribute baskets of food and toiletries for CVT clients who are seeking political asylum and don’t qualify for public services.