The Center for Victims of Torture

The Center for Victims of Torture

The Center for Victims of Torture is an international nonprofit dedicated to healing survivors of torture and violent conflict. We provide direct care for those who have been tortured, train partners around the world who can prevent and treat torture, and advocate for human rights and an end to torture.

Mission statement

The Center for Victims of Torture (CVT) was founded in 1985 as the first rehabilitation center for torture survivors in the US, and remains the largest organization of its kind in the world. CVT’s mission is to heal the wounds of torture on individuals, their families and their communities and to end torture worldwide. CVT’s work includes: care for torture survivors in the US, Africa and the Middle East (depending on location, care includes mental health services, physical therapy, social work and other services); technical assistance for 121 torture rehabilitation and related organizations in the US and 10 in other countries; and  nonpartisan advocacy to end the use of torture and advance human rights.

Summary of relevant work

Ethiopia – CVT provides direct counseling to Eritrean refugees living in camps south of Shire. Many are young men fleeing forced and indefinite conscription into the Eritrean military. But many women and children also are forced to leave and face horrifying experiences as they try to escape. In addition, to meet tremendous need for mental health care among South Sudanese refugee torture survivors, CVT extends rehabilitative care in the Nguenyyiel refugee camp in the Gambella region of Ethiopia, informed by our January 2019 needs assessment focused on mental health.

Dadaab, Kenya - Dadaab is home to the world’s largest refugee camp, with more than 350,000 refugees in a compound originally built to shelter 90,000. Many refugees experienced targeted violence as well as random atrocities of war. Most of the refugees are from Somalia with others from South Sudan, Ethiopia, Eritrea and other countries. CVT Dadaab is providing individual and small group therapy to torture and war survivors.

Kakuma, Kenya - In 2017, CVT began providing services to refugees and host community members in the Kakuma camps and surrounding communities in Turkana County. Refugees living in Kakuma are largely from South Sudan and Somalia, with a rapidly growing population from Burundi. Local community members are regular participants in daily camp life; they conduct business, attend school and seek services in the camps. Expert psychotherapist/trainers and a physiotherapist/trainer supervise a team of 13 psychosocial counselors and physiotherapists in providing counseling and physiotherapy services to survivors of torture and war trauma.

Nairobi, Kenya – CVT provides counseling and physical therapy to refugees, many who fled the Great Lakes Region of Africa and Somalia. UNHCR estimates that Nairobi is home to 53,200 refugees, although other international nongovernmental organizations believe there are many more, largely hidden from society.

Uganda - CVT extends rehabilitative care in Gulu to survivors of torture who were affected by the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) conflict, works with mental health counselors in the region with ongoing intensive training and supervision, and mentors graduate students of psychology through a partnership with Makerere University in Kampala. 

Jordan - CVT Jordan was established in Amman, Jordan, in 2008 to help highly traumatized Iraqi refugees suffering from the effects of torture and war. The work expanded to care for Syrian refugees who started arriving in Jordan when the conflict began there. And expansion continued over the years. Today, CVT Jordan extends rehabilitative care to refugees from multiple additional countries, including Eritrea, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan and Yemen

Global Programs:

PATH - Partners in Trauma Healing (PATH) is a collaboration between CVT and ten torture rehabilitation centers around the world to expand their ability to provide high-quality mental health services to survivors and to build sound, financially stable organizations

New Tactics in Human Rights - Around the world, human rights defenders struggle with isolation and finding ways to protect and promote human rights. Through trainings, an online community and a resource library, New Tactics helps human rights defenders work more effectively so they can achieve their goals.

Key partners


  • The Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration (PRM)
  • The Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor Affairs (DRL)
  • The Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR)
  • United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR)
  • The United Nations Voluntary Fund for Victims of Torture (UNVFVT)

Seeking collaboration with

Experts by experience/service users
Other organizations
Policy makers


Detection and diagnosis
Empowerment and service user involvement
Human rights
Policy and legislation
Prevention and promotion
Task sharing
Training, education and capacity building
Treatment, care and rehabilitation
Alcohol/drug use disorders
Child behavioural and developmental disorders
Depression/anxiety/stress-related disorders
Middle East
North America
Children and adolescents
Families and carers
Humanitarian and conflict health
Minority populations
Older adults
Primary care
Specialist care
United States