More Information and Resources

The United States has resettled more than 2 million refugees from more than 25 countries, with over 5,000 refugees settled in Vermont since 1990 (Vermont State Refugee Office, 2009). Refugees, immigrants and asylum seekers are among the estimated 500,000 survivors of torture in the U.S., with refugees representing the majority of victims (Campbell, 2007).

Instances of torture are reaching epidemic levels according to a variety of human rights groups. The impact of torture can be far reaching, not only affecting individuals who have directly experienced emotional and/or physical torture, but the extended families and communities within which these individuals exist. In Vermont, there are well over 1,000 survivors of torture and thousands of family and community members indirectly affected by torture. The total number of survivors of torture continues to rise with each year. Survivors of torture residing in areas of New England presently not served by an existing program, represent far greater numbers.

Refugee, immigrant and asylum seeking survivors of torture are affected by specific traumas experienced in their homelands and traumatic experiences encountered in migration. These atrocities are compounded by acculturative difficulties associated with re-settlement in a rural environment in which ethnic diversity is severely limited; 96.5% of Vermont’s racial composition is Caucasian (US Census Bureau, 2007).The struggles faced during acculturation are further exacerbated by limited English proficiency, loss of immediate and extended family networks, loss of social status, and lack of institutional familiarity. Failing to adequately address the complex needs of survivors of torture living in Vermont can lead to re-traumatization, poverty, discrimination, and unsuccessful re-integration. Alternatively, these new Vermonters have the potential to build productive lives, and positively contribute to the ethnic diversity and social fabric of Vermont.

What is Torture?
Torture is...
"...any act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a person for such purposes as obtaining from him or a third person information or a confession, punishing him for an act he or a third person has committed or is suspected of having committed, or intimidating or coercing him or a third person, or for any reason based on discrimination of any kind, when such pain or suffering is inflicted by or at the instigation of or with the consent or acquiescence of a public official or other person acting in an official capacity. It does not include pain or suffering arising only from, inherent in or incidental to lawful sanctions."
-U.N. Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment
Full text of the Convention against Torture

For more information about the issue of torture and torture treatment:
National Consortium of Torture Treatment Programs
Heal Torture - Resources for those who serve torture survivors
World Organization Against Torture
Torture Abolition and Survivors Support Coalition
List of Grantees of the Office of Refugee Resettlement Services for Survivors of Torture program