February’s Spotlight: Survivors of Torture Recovery Center

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This month your donation will provide much needed mental health counseling and support services for refugee survivors of torture.

Since 2013, The Survivors of Torture Recovery Center (STRC) in is the only federally funded program in Kentucky supporting refugees who have survived torture in their home countries and are now rebuilding their lives. Located in a wing of Americana World Community Center, the STRC provides holistic, integrated, individualized care consisting of free mental health counseling and psychiatric services, medical care and social service coordination, case management, as well as legal service referrals.

Over the past five years, the STRC has served over 300 torture survivors from countries as diverse as Iraq, Bhutan, Sudan, Somalia, Democratic Republic of Congo, Cuba, Colombia, Bosnia and Mexico.

With your support, we can help torture survivors recover from their traumatic experiences and go on to lead fulfilling, dignified and productive lives such as Esperanza.

Esperanza grew up to be a nurse in Colombia, South America. She and her 15-year-old daughter Marisol lived an active, happy life, surrounded by family and friends. Because of her profession, a paramilitary group targeted her. Men in uniform came to her home, pointed guns at her and her Marisol’s’ heads and threatened them with death if they did not cooperate. One of the soldiers held Marisol at home while Esperanza was blindfolded and taken to an old house in another part of the city. Once there, the other soldiers forced her at gunpoint to provide medical care to injured members of the paramilitary group. 

Esperanza was kidnapped ten times over a seven-month period. Each time the soldiers held her between eight hours and three days. Regardless of the length of time they held her, she worked around the clock. The soldiers did not allow her to eat, sleep, drink or use the restroom. Because the kidnappers threatened to kill her daughter if she told anyone, she had to suffer this horrific treatment in silence. After escaping to the United States, Esperanza found her way to Louisville and to the STRC. With this support, Esperanza currently feels safe and unafraid, and now has hope for the future.  

There are more than 1,500 people who live in Louisville who are victims or torture, and STRC is the only organization that supports these individuals through expert care and specific trauma-informed programming. The funding we receive is not enough to meet all the survivor of torture needs in Louisville, and with federal funding being threatened, it’s imperative that we come together to ensure the future of this programming.

The STRC also needs volunteers to provide mental health services and case management services. Please contact Jim Guinn, STRC Sustainability Coordinator at 502.852.7968 or via email at james.guinn@louisville.edu.