The Services for Survivors of Torture program (SOT) is committed to assisting persons who have experienced torture abroad and who are residing in the United States, to restore their dignity and health and rebuild their lives as they integrate into their communities.
The intention of the Torture Victims Relief Act of 1998 (TVRA) is to recognize that persons entering the United States who have suffered torture abroad may be in need of rehabilitative services to enable them to become productive members of our communities.
The TVRA authorizes funding for the following services:
rehabilitation of victims of torture, including treatment of the physical and psychological effects of torture;
social and legal services for victims of torture; and
research and training for health care providers outside of treatment centers, or programs for the purpose of enabling such providers to provide the services described above.
Torture constitutes one of the most extreme forms of trauma with the potential for long-term psychological and physical suffering and intergenerational trauma. Research studies indicate a 44% prevalence of torture among refugees, asylees, and asylum seekers now living in the U.S. Thus, the SOT program is a key component of ORR’s refugee resettlement program and contributes to the goal of promoting health and wellness among refugees and asylees.
The SOT program includes two types of grants:
Direct Services for Survivors of Torture (DS SOT) grants designed to provide holistic, strengths-based, and trauma-informed services to survivors of torture and their families to assist them in the healing and recovery process; and
a Technical Assistance to Survivors of Torture organizations (TA SOT) grant designed to ensure that the direct service organizations have the training and resources needed to provide quality, integrated, and sustainable services to survivors and their families.
Each fiscal year, ORR administers approximately $10.5 million in grant funding as part of the SOT program.
Eligibility for the SOT program is determined in accordance with the TVRA authorizing legislation. This legislation uses the following definitions given in section 2340(1) of title 18, U.S. Code:
“torture” means an act committed by a person acting under the color of law specifically intended to inflict severe physical or mental pain or suffering (other than pain or suffering incidental to lawful sanctions) upon another person within his custody or physical control;
“severe mental pain or suffering” means the prolonged mental harm caused by or resulting from −
(A) the intentional infliction or threatened infliction of severe physical pain or suffering;
(B) the administration or application, or threatened administration or application, of mind-altering substances or other procedures calculated to disrupt profoundly the senses or the personality;
(C) the threat of imminent death; or
(D) the threat that another person will imminently be subjected to death, severe physical pain or suffering, or the administration or application of mind-altering substances or other procedures calculated to disrupt profoundly the senses or personality.
As used in the TVRA, this definition also includes the use of rape and other forms of sexual violence by a person acting under the color of law, upon another person under his custody or physical control.
For more information on eligibility, see the Torture Victims Relief Act of 1998, eligibility determination guidance, and a sample eligibility form.
Visit the Health and Mental Health section of the ORR Network Resources page for other related resources.
For more information about the SOT program, contact the Project Officer listed below.
Office of Refugee Resettlement
Administration for Children and Families
Department of Health and Human Services
330 C Street, SW
Washington, DC 20201