Client Services

Are You a Torture Survivor?

You are not alone. We're here to help.

We’re a healing resource to survivors of torture and their families without regard to race, religion, gender, national origin, sexual orientation, or economic or legal status. All services are provided free of charge. Interpretation is available. There is no time limit on when the torture occurred in one’s lifetime.

Services Include:
  • Individual Therapy
  • Group Therapy
  • Psychiatry
  • Social Service Case Management
  • Medical Case Management
  • Psychological Evaluations
  • Medical Affidavits
  • Interpretation



If you have an emergency and are unable to contact SURVIVORS, please call the San Diego Access & Crisis Line at 1-888-724-7240 for immediate help. Confidential and free of charge, the line is immediately answered 7 days a week, 24 hours a day and can assist in 150 languages within seconds.

Refer a Torture Survivor

Whether you're a friend or an official representative, you can help refer a torture survivor to us to ensure they get assistance.

A client must be a primary or secondary survivor of torture.

Torture is defined under national and international laws. The Torture Victims Relief Act uses the following definition of torture given in section 2340(1) of title 18, United States Code:

  1. “Torture” means an act committed by a person acting under the color of law specifically intended to inflict severe physical or mental pain or suffering (other than pain or suffering incidental to lawful sanctions) upon another person within his custody or physical control;
  2. “Severe mental pain or suffering” means the prolonged mental harm caused by or resulting from
    • The intentional infliction or threatened infliction of severe physical pain or suffering;
    • The administration or application, or threatened administration or application, of mind-altering substances or other procedures calculated to disrupt profoundly the senses or the personality;
  3. The threat of imminent death; or
  4. The threat that another person will imminently be subjected to death, severe physical pain or suffering, or the administration or application of mind-altering substances or other procedures calculated to disrupt profoundly the senses or personality

As used in the TVRA, this definition also includes the use of rape and other forms of sexual violence by a person acting under the color of law, upon another person under his custody or physical control.

A client must have a desire and willingness to be a participant in the services offered by SURVIVORS.

A client must be available to receive SURVIVORS’ services during business hours or during the stated hours of the contracted provider(s).

A client must be able to receive services as an outpatient and not be in need of inpatient hospitalization at the time s/he is accepted as a new client.

An individual who has been a voluntary perpetrator of torture is not an appropriate client for SURVIVORS.

Some individuals have suffered torture in the context of family violence, cult activity, criminal assault or other settings which do not fit the criteria from the definitions used by Survivors of Torture, International. We recognize that the injuries and damage from these abuses may be extreme. At the same time, SURVIVORS’ work focuses on its specific mission, and we therefore refer these cases to other resources.

Learn More About Some of Our Core Programs

med-evalMedical evaluations serve as forensic documentation to support clients’ asylum claims and are conducted by volunteer physicians, like Dr. George Longstreth as shown in this photo.

Psychological evaluations also serve as forensic documentation but are conducted by licensed mental health professionals, such as psychologists, marriage family therapists, and licensed clinical social workers.

Forensic documentation is important for asylum-seeking clients to demonstrate a credible fear of persecution or torture upon return to his or her country.

Like all of our services, these medical affidavits and psychological evaluations are provided free of charge for our clients.

Based on research and our experiences, the health and quality of life of many torture survivors improve with the appropriate use of psychotropic medications. SURVIVORS combines psychiatric care with psychotherapy and social support.

SURVIVORS’ psychiatric services include thorough evaluation of clients, medication prescriptions and management, and regular follow-up by a psychiatrist.

Shown in the photo to the left are psychiatrists Dr. Koh (left), Dr. Ahmed (center), and Dr. Tartaglione (right).

SURVIVORS’ works with contracted mental health professionals including licensed psychologists, therapists, and social workers to provide services throughout San Diego county, allowing clients access to specialty care and sophisticated diagnostic resources. In addition to being highly qualified in their professions, many are specialists in areas that are particularly important for our clients, such as pain management, sexual assault recovery, neuropsychology, spirituality, and cross-cultural counseling.

Group therapy helps counter clients’ feelings of shame, humiliation, and isolation.

The current active groups at SURVIVORS are a men’s and a women’s group.


Special outing groups to the park and various fun places, usually out in nature allow torture survivors to get to know other clients, enjoy free resources in San Diego, and experience the healing power of nature.

A quote from one of our clinicians about the Healing Club sums it up nicely: “… I can attest to the way that this Healing Club outing revealed a wonderful world to [those] who attended it. Some of them spoke of ‘Paradise’ and some spoke of deep release from care. Some spoke of hopefulness and beauty. It really astonished me how much feeling and spiritual uplift this outing elicited and assisted.”

Our case management services address clients’ emergency needs, such as food, clothing, and housing.SURVIVORS also distributes blankets, bus tokens, and hygiene items.

Shown in the photo here is our clinical staff with hygiene items donated by Thrivent Financial by way of its Action Team program.

Our medical case management services are provided for torture-related ailments. We ensure our clients receive the care they need by working with local community clinics and pro-bono physicians.