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.
    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

    No More Space Race for US, Rivalry Gives Way to Collaboration

    What began as a struggle for dominance in space between two world powers has changed entirely to one of joint efforts

    Beijing Warns Critics Over South China Sea Dispute

    Official warns critics that the more they challenge China's position regarding disputed territories in one of world’s busiest waterways, the more it will push back

    Move Over Millennials, Here Comes iGeneration

    How the first generation to be born, almost literally, with a smartphone in hand, might change America

    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.
    Image Recognition Market Seen Doubling by 2020i
    X
    Ramon Taylor
    May 05, 2016 10:05 PM
    From auto tagging on Facebook to self-driving cars, image recognition technology as it exists today is still in its beginning phases, experts say — and will soon change the way users and corporations interact with the physical world. VOA's Ramon Taylor reports.
    Video

    Video Image Recognition Market Seen Doubling by 2020

    From auto tagging on Facebook to self-driving cars, image recognition technology as it exists today is still in its beginning phases, experts say — and will soon change the way users and corporations interact with the physical world. VOA's Ramon Taylor reports.
    Video

    Video Child Labor in Afghanistan Remains a Problem

    With war still raging in Afghanistan, the country also faces the problem of child labor as families put their school-age children to work to help make ends meet. But, thanks to VOA's Afghan Service, two families whose children had been working in a brick-making factory - to earn their livings and pay off family debts - now have a new lease on life. Zabihullah Ghazi reports.
    Video

    Video Kurdish Troops Recount Firefight Which Killed US Navy SEAL

    A U.S. Navy SEAL killed Tuesday, when Islamic State fighters punched through Kurdish lines in northern Iraq, was part of a quick reaction force sent to extract other U.S. troops trapped by the surprise offensive. VOA's Kawa Omar spoke with Kurdish troops in the town of Telskuf -- the scene of what U.S. officials called a "dynamic firefight."
    Video

    Video British Lawmakers Warn EU Exit Talks Could Last A Decade

    Leaving the European Union would mean difficult negotiations that could take years to complete, according to a bipartisan group of British lawmakers. While the group did not recommend a vote either way, the lawmakers noted trade deals between the EU and non-EU states take between four and nine years on average. Henry Ridgwell reports on the mounting debate over whether Britain should stay or exit the EU as the June vote approaches.
    Video

    Video NASA Astronauts Train for Commercial Space Flights

    Since the last Shuttle flight in 2011, the United States has been relying on Russian rockets to launch fresh crews to the International Space Station. But that may change in the next few years. NASA and several private space companies are developing advanced capsules capable of taking humans into low orbit and beyond. As VOA's George Putic reports, astronauts are already training for commercial spacecraft in flight simulators.
    Video

    Video US Worried Political Chaos in Iraq Will Hurt IS Fight

    The White House is expressing concern about rising political chaos in Iraq and the impact it could have on the fight against the Islamic State. The U.S. says Iraq needs a stable, central government to help push back the group. But some say Baghdad may not have a unified government any time soon. VOA's White House correspondent Mary Alice Salinas reports.
    Video

    Video Press Freedom in Myanmar Fragile, Limited

    As Myanmar begins a new era with a democratically elected government, many issues of the past confront the new leadership. Among them is press freedom in a country where journalists have been routinely harassed or jailed.
    Video

    Video Taliban Threats Force Messi Fan to Leave Afghanistan

    A young Afghan boy, who recently received autographed shirts and a football from his soccer hero Lionel Messi, has fled his country due to safety concerns. He and his family are now taking refuge in neighboring Pakistan. VOA's Ayaz Gul reports from Islamabad.
    Video

    Video Major Rubbish Burning Experiment Captures Destructive Greenhouse Gases

    The world’s first test to capture environmentally harmful carbon dioxide gases from the fumes of burning rubbish took place recently in Oslo, Norway. The successful experiment at the city's main incinerator plant, showcased a method for capturing most of the carbon dioxide. VOA’s Deborah Block has more.
    Video

    Video EU Visa Block Threatens To Derail EU-Turkey Migrant Deal

    Turkish citizens could soon benefit from visa-free travel to Europe as part of the recent deal between the EU and Ankara to stem the flow of refugees. In return, Turkey has pledged to keep the migrants on Turkish soil and crack down on those who are smuggling them. Brussels is set to publish its latest progress report Wednesday — but as Henry Ridgwell reports from London, many EU lawmakers are threatening to veto the deal over human rights concerns.
    Video

    Video Tensions Rising Ahead of South China Sea Ruling

    As the Philippines awaits an international arbitration ruling on a challenge to China's claims to nearly all of the South China Sea, it is already becoming clear that regardless of which way the decision goes, the dispute is intensifying. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
    Video

    Video Painting Captures President Lincoln Assassination Aftermath

    A newly restored painting captures the moments following President Abraham Lincoln’s assassination in 1865. It was recently unveiled at Ford’s Theatre in Washington, where America’s 16th president was shot. It is the only known painting by an eyewitness that captures the horror of that fateful night. VOA’s Julie Taboh tells us more about the painting and what it took to restore it to its original condition.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora