News / USA

Annual Event Helps Torture Treatment Center

Annual Event Helps Torture Treatment Centeri
X
May 18, 2013 3:51 PM
Once a year, an event called Big Sunday Weekend mobilizes volunteers to help at different organizations and schools. One of the places volunteers visited this year is the Program for Torture Victims, a torture treatment center in Los Angeles. The center helps survivors heal and also provides testimony to help them gain asylum in the United States. From 2010 to 2012, the Program for Torture Victims worked with close to 700 survivors from more than 65 countries. Elizabeth Lee has details from Los Angeles.
Elizabeth Lee
Once a year, an event called Big Sunday Weekend mobilizes volunteers to help at different organizations and schools. One of the places volunteers visited this year is the Program for Torture Victims, a torture treatment center in Los Angeles.

The center helps survivors heal and also provides testimony to help them gain asylum in the United States. From 2010 to 2012, the Program for Torture Victims worked with close to 700 survivors from more than 65 countries.

For 26 years Rossana Perez has spent her free time running in a park near downtown Los Angeles.

“It really clears my thoughts and helps me to release stress,” Perez said.

Much of that stress comes from memories of prison and torture.    

“It’s very painful to, you know, talk about things...,” Perez said.

Overcome with emotion, Perez needed a moment to collect herself before continuing.

"A life can be so easily fragmented and one can feel ashamed of...," she said.

Perez came from El Salvador. In the 1980s, during the country's civil war, she was a university student and participated in demonstrations for social reform. She says she was labeled as a communist and was arrested and tortured.

“They push you. They beat you up. They touch you. They say stuff to you. They put things on your body. One day, I remember I was naked. I was with my hands tied [behind my] back, and they put this big metal thing on my head. I was feeling that my body was breaking,” Perez said.

Some torture survivors find their way to Los Angeles, home of the Program for Torture Victims, a center that provides outpatient treatment to those who have been tortured.
 
Trip Oldfield is the center’s executive director. He says this is the first treatment center of its kind in the United States.

He says many American non-profits, including his, lost funding during the economic downturn. Recent government spending cuts haven't helped.

“We used to get about 80 percent of our funding from the government sources, in 2000 for instance. And now it's down to about 50 percent,” Oldfield said.

The Program for Torture Victims depends on volunteers who donate their money and time. At this year's Big Sunday Weekend, volunteers gave the office a new coat of paint, helped rearrange a room, and put up shelves to create a food and clothing bank.
 
“Most of our clients flee with nothing. So some clients come in, and they have nothing. They have the clothes on their backs. We want to give them basics,” Oldfield said.

David Levinson is Big Sunday Weekend's founder.

”We introduce many people to organizations they might not have heard about before,” Levinson said.

The program links survivors of torture to lawyers, psychiatrists and experts on the asylum process.

Oldfield says people who are tortured are never the same, but  they can heal and lead happy, productive lives.  Rossana Perez is working and pursuing a masters degree. She also wants to go for a PhD and help her community and others in need.

You May Like

Multimedia Obama Defends Immigration Action

Obama says with his executive action on immigration, enforcement resources will be focused on 'felons, not families; criminals, not children' More

US-Led Airstrikes in Syria Kill Over 900: Monitoring Group

British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says the toll includes more than 50 civilians, five of them women and eight of them children More

Report: Obama Broadens US Combat Role in Afghanistan

The New York Times says resident Barack Obama has signed a classified order extending the role of US troops in Afghanistan for another year More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
New Skateboard Defies Gravityi
X
November 21, 2014 5:07 AM
A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video New Skateboard Defies Gravity

A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Impact US Oil Extraction

With the price of oil now less than $80 a barrel, motorists throughout the United States are benefiting from gas prices below $3 a gallon. But as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the decreasing price of petroleum has a downside for the hydraulic fracturing industry in the United States.
Video

Video Tensions Build on Korean Peninsula Amid Military Drills

It has been another tense week on the Korean peninsula as Pyongyang threatened to again test nuclear weapons while the U.S. and South Korean forces held joint military exercises in a show of force. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from the Kunsan Air Base in South Korea.
Video

Video Mama Sarah Obama Honored at UN Women’s Entrepreneurship Day

President Barack Obama's step-grandmother is in the United States to raise money to build a $12 million school and hospital center in Kogelo, Kenya, the birthplace of the president's father, Barack Obama, Sr. She was honored for her decades of work to aid poor Kenyans at a Women's Entrepreneurship Day at the United Nations.
Video

Video Gay Evangelicals Argue That Bible Does Not Condemn Homosexuality

More than 30 U.S. states now recognize same-sex marriages, and an increasing number of mainline American churches are blessing them. But evangelical church members- which account for around 30 percent of the U.S. adult population - believe the Bible unequivocally condemns homosexuality. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports that gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender evangelicals are coming out. Backed by a prominent evangelical scholar, they argue that the traditional reading of the bible is wrong.
Video

Video Ebola Economic Toll Stirs W. Africa Food Security Concerns

The World Bank said Wednesday that it expects the economic impact of the Ebola outbreak on the sub-Saharan economy to cost somewhere betweenf $3 billion to $4 billion - well below a previously-outlined worst-case scenario of $32 billion. Some economists, however, paint a gloomier picture - warning that the disruption to regional markets and trading is considerable. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Mexico Protests Escalate Over Disappearances

Protests in Mexico over 43 students missing since September continue to escalate, reflecting growing anger among Mexicans about a political system they view as corrupt, and increasingly tainted by the drug trade. Mounting outrage over the disappearances is now focused on the government of President Enrique Pena Nieto, accused of not doing enough to end insecurity in the country. More from VOA's Victoria Macchi.
Video

Video US Senate Votes Down Controversial Oil Pipeline - For Now

The U.S. Senate has rejected construction of a controversial pipeline to transport Canadian oil to American refineries. The $5 billion project still could be approved next year, but it faces a possible veto by President Barack Obama. As VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, the pipeline has exposed deep divisions in Congress about America’s energy future.
Video

Video Can Minsk Cease-fire Agreement Hold?

Growing tensions between government troops and separatists in eastern Ukraine further threaten a cease-fire agreement reached two months ago in the Belarusian capital of Minsk. Critics of U.S. policy in Ukraine say it is time the Obama administration gives up on that much-violated cease-fire and moves toward a new deal with Russia. VOA's Scott Stearns has more.
Video

Video Chaos, Abuse Defy Solution in Libya

The political and security crisis in Libya is deepening, with competing governments and, according to Amnesty International, widespread human rights violations committed with impunity. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video US Hosts Record 866,000 Foreign Students

Close to 900,000 international students are studying at American universities and colleges, more than ever before. About half of them come from Asia, mostly China. The United States hosts more foreign students than any other country in the world, and its foreign student population is steadily growing. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Ferguson Church Grapples with Race Relations

Many white residents of Ferguson, Missouri, say they chose to live there because of the American Midwest community's diversity. So, they were shocked when a white police officer killed an unarmed black teenager in August – and shaken by the resulting protests and violence. Some local churches are leading conversations on how to go forward. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports.

All About America

AppleAndroid