Original photo: ©Nevit Dilmen / Wikimedia

The National Consortium of Torture Treatment Programs (NCTTP) is a U.S. based network of programs which exists to advance the knowledge, technical capacities and resources devoted to the care of torture survivors living in the United States and acts collectively to prevent torture worldwide.

As violent political upheavals have increased in countries across the world, individuals, many of them civilians, in these countries have been intimidated, threatened, and tortured to further the goals of a government or in the wake of a lack of government’s intervention to prevent torture. Survivors of Torture, in many cases, have lost family, home, country, livelihoods, and they frequently have been brutally damaged emotionally and physically, leaving them with little hope and lessened capacity to carry on a productive, meaningful life in the United States.

The United States has resettled over three million refugees and likely as many asylum seekers in the last 40 years.1,2 Because estimates of the percentage of refugees who have been tortured range from 10 to 30%, with some higher estimates for asylum seekers, it is likely that between 600,000 to 1,200,000 torture survivors have come to the U.S. since the end of the Vietnam War in 1975.3,4 NCTTP centers currently have the capacity to provide specialized assistance approximately 6,000 survivors – a very small fraction of those who need help.

NCTTP Annual Meeting (2012)

NCTTP members gather for a recent Annual Meeting in Washington, DC

NCTTP’s primary purpose is to foster the development, in quality as well as quantity, of specialized programs devoted to caring for survivors of torture. Member organizations share knowledge and expertise through regular communication and cooperation, building stronger individual organizations as well as a stronger network of care. Providing health, mental health, legal assistance, and / or other support services to victims of torture, NCTTP member centers conduct their programs with the highest professional standards. Research into treatment outcomes and evidence based practices is a strong value.

Founded in 1998, the NCTTP currently has 33 member organizations in 18 states and the District of Columbia. Lin Piwowarczyk, M.D., M.P.H., of the Boston Center for Refugee Health and Human Rights in Boston, Massachusettes, currently serves as NCTTP President.

Funding for the NCTTP comes from membership dues, donations, and grants. Significant funding for individual programs comes from grants from the federal Office of Refugee Resettlement and the United Nations Voluntary Fund for Victims of Torture through the U.S. Torture Victims Relief Act of 1998. The United Nations Voluntary Fund is also an important funder. Donations from individuals and agencies, grants from private foundations and intrastate governments, fund raising events, and some billing for insurance covered services provide additional financial support.


1. rcusa.org / history, U.S. Refugee Resettlement Program, accessed 7/10/2014

2. Asylum in the United States, Wikipedia, accessed 7/10/2014 – citing OECD International Migration Outlook 2009. (http://www.oecd.org/migration/mig/internationalmigrationoutlook2009.htm)

3. Modvig J, Jaranson J. A global perspective of torture, political violence, and health. In: Wilson JP, Drozdek B, eds. Broken Spirits: The Treatment of Traumatized Asylum Seekers, Refugees, War and Torture Victims. New York, NY: Brunner-Routledge Press; 33-52, 2004.

4. Burnett, A., & Peel, M. (2001). Asylum seekers and refugees in Britain: The health of survivors of torture and organized violence. BMJ, 322(7286), 606-609.

A Brief History of the NCTTP

The history of the National Consortium of Torture Treatment Programs (NCTTP) and the evolution of the Torture Victims Relief Act (TVRA) are interwoven as each supported and helped to make possible the development of the other.

  • Current membership includes 33 organizations in 18 states and the District of Columbia.
  • A national conference call for existing torture treatment programs in the early 1990s is arranged by the Center for Victims of Torture (CVT).
  • In 1998, with Office for Victims of Crime funding, the first network meeting of torture treatment programs is held in Minnesota.
  • In 1999, CVT, through private foundation funding, convenes a second meeting in Minnesota and a torture treatment network takes shape.
  • The NCTTP incorporates in 2001. An elected Executive Committee and other member interest committees convene monthly through conference calls and website discussions. An annual meeting involves all member programs.
  • Recent projects of the NCTTP have included in 2009 initiating a Symposium at which individual NCTTP member centers present academic papers on the last day of the group’s annual meeting. Collecting raw demographic data on torture survivors from over 20 Consortium treatment sites under the oversight of an Institutional Review Board began in late 2008. The NCTTP’s Policy Committee has continued its active role in working with federal and state legislators to increase funding for torture survivors through the TVRA   In early 2010, the group initiated this website.

The Torture Victims Relief Act

  • Senator Dave Durenberger (R-MN) introduced the TVRA in 1994 in the 103rd Congress.
  • The TVRA was re-introduced in 1994-1995 in the House by Congressmen Christopher Smith (R-NJ) and Tom Lantos (D-CA) and in the Senate by Senators Paul Wellstone (D-MN) and Arlen Specter (R-PA).
  • In the 105th Congress the TVRA was introduced by the same House Members and by Senators Paul Wellstone and Rod Grams (R-MN). Congress enacted the TVRA in the 1996-1997 session. President Clinton signed it into law in 1998.
  • Health & Human Services (HHS) & the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) was authorized to assist torture survivors regardless of their legal status, and in 2000 ORR funded 16 torture treatment programs.
  • Now, in 2010, an estimated 125,000 to 750,000 torture survivors living in the US continue to need our assistance. Full funding of the TVRA will help centers that treat torture survivors broaden their approaches to treatment and prevention, train mainstream providers, and develop new and effective approaches to ending torture.
  • The Office of Refugee Resettlement continues to play a prominent role in planning and disbursing grants from TVRA funds to torture treatment centers throughout the United States. A percentage of the TVRA funds is authorized and managed through the United Nations Voluntary Fund for Victims of Torture. A number of NCTTP centers receive funding through the UNVFVT.
  • Increased funding of TVRA is needed to make more grants of this nature is possible.

ORR Website:

UNVFVT Website:

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