Medical & Psychological Support and Networks
Torture can cause a broad range of physical and psychological problems, pain and scars that can last a lifetime. Medical and psychological rehabilitative support is therefore essential to the empowerment, successful integration and recovery of torture survivors. This may include emergency medical treatment for life-threatening conditions, long-term treatment for a range of illnesses as well as specialised physiotherapy and psychological care.
Medical and psychological assessment also plays an important role in the documentation of torture and ill-treatment.
There are a range of organisations operating both internationally and locally, that provide access to some of these services. In particular:
- Physicians for Human Rights has an International Forensics Program that mobilises the skills of medical and scientific professionals in dozens of countries to respond to victims of human rights violations, war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide. PHR works with experts to recover the dead, determine cause and manner of death, identify remains, and to provide evidence to a wide range of legal and judicial institutions.
- The International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies is an international organisation dedicated to trauma treatment, education, research and prevention. It has links to a range of traumatic stress resources.
- Health and Human Rights Info (HHRI) is a database that gives you free access to information, both in English and Spanish, about the effects of human rights violations on mental health in the contexts of disaster, conflict and war.
- The International Rehabilitation Council for Torture Victims (IRCT) is an international, independent health professional organisation which promotes and supports the rehabilitation of torture victims and works for the prevention of torture worldwide.
The IRCT is an umbrella organisation for more than 140 independent torture rehabilitation centres in over 70 countries. Many of these centres can provide specialised medical and psychological examinations to be used in legal proceedings. It may be possible depending on the location and available resources for such examinations to be done on an urgent basis.
IRCT’s member organisations may also be able to provide medical assessment and treatment, psychotherapy and counselling, individual or group therapy and physiotherapy for rehabilitation of torture survivors. As a rule, they cannot cover costs for examinations and treatment, but this may be possible depending on the context, location and available resources. The IRCT is independent from any government, and its head office is in Copenhagen, Denmark.
Head Office Telephone: +45 33 76 06 00; Email: email@example.com; Website: www.irct.org
There are also many national survivors networks that exist around the world, a number of international networks run by and for survivors of torture have been created. These include:
UK Medical & Psychological Support and Networks
If you are in the United Kingdom (UK), the following organisations may be helpful to you:
- Freedom From Torture: Medical Foundation for the Care of Victims of Torture is a UK based organisation that aims to provide a range of services to survivors of torture, including: medical, psychiatric and psychological consultation, assessment and treatment; rehabilitation, short and long-term, through social care, casework and counselling, psycho-therapy, physiotherapy, complementary therapies and group and family work. It also provides forensic medical reports to document allegations of torture and ill-treatment in support of claims for asylum.
- Helen Bamber Foundation is a UK based organisation that works with victims of many forms of torture, helping them to rebuild their lives. Helen Bamber Foundation has a team of therapists, doctors and legal experts hold an international reputation for providing therapeutic care, medical consultation, legal protection and practical support to survivors of human rights violations.
- Medical Justice aims to defend and promote the health rights and associated legal rights, of immigration detainees in the UK; and to end the medical abuse of detainees and the damaging effects of immigration detention on their health. Medical Justice campaigns for the immediate release of vulnerable groups from immigration detention who, according to Home Office policy (Rule 35 of the Detention Centre Rules 2001 and the Enforcement Instruction Guidance section 55.10), should only be detained in “exceptional circumstances”, in particular victims of torture, children, pregnant women and people with serious physical and mental illness, who cannot be appropriately cared for in detention. Please do see the Medical Justice website for more information on this policy and Rule 35.
- Room to Heal is a community for refugees and asylum seekers who have survived torture and other forms of organised violence. They aim to enable our members to heal from their traumatic experiences, find renewed meaning in life and integrate into the UK. They do this through a range of activities including: support groups, gardening and food-growing, individual therapy and casework, theatre and storytelling, cooking and social gatherings, and rural community-building retreats.
- Forced Migration Trauma Service
- Traumatic Stress Clinic
- Counseling Directory is a confidential service that encourages those in distress to seek help. The directory contains information on many different types of distress, as well as articles, news, and events. All counsellors have provided Counseling Directory with qualifications and insurance cover or proof of membership with a professional body.
If you are in the UK, and an asylum seeker meeting specified requirements, it is possible that you may be entitled to the following (Immigration and Asylum Act 1999):
- Section 98 support – emergency full board accommodation for asylum seekers and dependants.
- Section 95 support – accommodation and/or weekly cash support for asylum seekers and dependants.
Other forms of support include (Immigration and Asylum Act 1999):
- Section 4(1) support – accommodation and non-cash support for people with temporary admission, released from detention or on bail.
- Section 4(2) support – accommodation and non-cash support for refused asylum seekers, and their dependants, unable to leave the United Kingdom.
If you are in the UK, with refugee status or leave to remain, and you meet specified requirements, it is possible that you may be entitled to the following:
- Personal Independence Payment (PIP) (section 77 Welfare Reform Act 2012)
- Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA) (section 1(2) Jobseeker’s Allowance Act 1995)
- Housing benefit (section 130(1) Social Security Contributions and Benefits Act 1992)
- Accommodation (section S21(1) National Assistance Act 1948)
In addition, you may register with a doctor / General Practitioner (GP) as soon as you arrive in the UK. You will need to complete a form providing details such as your name, address, date of birth. Some GP surgeries will also require a photo identity, such as a passport or driving licence and proof of address, such as a utility bill (gas, electricity, water or council tax bill). At the doctor’s surgery, you will be asked to disclose your medical records and will have the opportunity to raise concerns in relation to your past experiences of ill-treatment, and/or of any disability. There are also many national survivors networks that exist around the world, a number of international networks run by and for survivors of torture have been created. These include: