We work with more than 80 members from over 30 different countries, primarily from the Middle East, Africa, and Eastern Europe, without prejudice to their immigration status.
Our members have typically been subject to torture and/or cruel or inhuman and degrading treatment, as well as arbitrary and/or incommunicado detention at the hands of state or state-sponsored officials. This includes a diverse range of actors, such as national and local police; national security and intelligence forces; government-backed mercenaries and militias; prison guards; and rebel militias.
Our membership also includes survivors of trafficking who have experienced prolonged abuse and rape, as well as those subject to persecution for belonging to a ‘particular social group.’ This includes, for example, LGBTQI people who have been forced to flee their home countries after being attacked by state authorities and/or vigilante groups.
Central to our work is addressing the complex range of problems commonly experienced by survivors of torture: fear and chronic anxiety, isolation, an inability to connect with others, feelings of worthlessness and a sense of dislocation from the world.
These problems are further compounded by the fact that the majority of our members have fallen outside, or been excluded from, the established system of medical, legal and social welfare support. Those with irregular immigration status, for example, may be too frightened to engage with mainstream service providers for fear of being reported to authorities and deported. Others are too traumatised by their experiences, having lost all ability to trust or relate to other people, to approach another person for help for fear of being tortured, persecuted or abused again.
The enduring legacy of extreme violence, coupled with a life in exile outside of any familial, social, cultural or institutional system of support is often too much for one person to bear.