About Services for Survivors of Torture

The Services for Survivors of Torture Program is committed to rehabilitating torture survivors. Services for Survivors of Torture aim to restore health and independence so that survivors may build productive lives. Many groups residing in the U.S--including refugees, asylees, immigrants, other displaced persons, and U.S. citizens--may have experienced torture in foreign countries. Services for Survivors of Torture Programs focus on physical, psychological, social and legal services for torture survivors as well as education and training of service providers.

Services for Survivors of Torture Programs have two main initiatives:

  1. Assistance to Torture Survivors through Direct Services
    • Services meet the physical health, psychological, social, and legal needs of torture survivors
    • Activities include direct services, outreach and training for community service providers that have access to and/or work with torture survivors
    • 29 grantees in 19 states currently provide direct services to torture survivors and their family members
  2. Technical Assistance to Organizations and Institutions Providing Direct Services to Torture Survivors
    • Two cooperative agreements are funded under this priority area
    • Organizations design and deliver technical assistance that enables programs to provide effective services to torture survivors

General Background

The Torture Victimes Relief Act of 1998 (TVRA), provides funding for a comprehensive program of support for survivors of torture. The TVRA recognizes that a significant number of refugees, asylees, and asylum seekers entering the United States have suffered torture. These torture survivors, now living in the United States, should receive rehabilitative services to enable them to become productive members of our communities.

Grants fund 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
  • Research and training for health care providers outside of treatment centers
  • Training programs that enable providers to rehabilitate survivors

Eligibility

Clients are determined eligible for the Services for Torture Survivors Program in accordance with the TVRA authorizing legislation. This legislation uses the following definition of torture given in section 2340(1) of title 18, United States Code:

  1. “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
  2. “severe mental pain or suffering” means the prolonged mental harm caused by or resulting from:
    1. the intentional infliction or threatened infliction of severe physical pain or suffering;
    2. 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;
    3. the threat of imminent death; or
    4. 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.

Online Resource Center

Healtorture.org has created a new online resource center for programs serving torture survivors, individuals wishing to learn more about serving this population, and for survivors looking for information and services.  Healtorture.org has also created an easy-to-use resource site for ORR related materials, forms and guidance.

List of Current Grantees

Contact Information
Jewel Roberts
Program Specialist
Office of Refugee Resettlement
Administration for Children and Families
901 D Street, SW
Washington, DC 20447
Phone: 202.205.9557
Fax: 202.401-0981
jewel.roberts@acf.hhs.gov