Founded in 1985, the Center for Victims of Torture (CVT) was the first torture treatment center in the United States, only the third in the world. Today CVT is internationally recognized and works locally, nationally, and internationally to heal the wounds of torture on individuals, their families, and their communities, and to stop torture worldwide. CVT is transforming the way we understand torture and is forging new ways to advance human rights. Through treatment for survivors, research, outreach, advocacy, and prevention, CVT is leading the movement to build a vision of the torture treatment movement as a strategic advancement of human rights. Indeed, now there are more than 200 torture treatment centers in the world, 40 of them in the U.S. CVT is challenging the idea that torture is an effective interrogation tool. It is not. Rather, torture is a weapon of fear used to destroy leadership and control societies. Even after a corrupt regime is gone, torture leaves communities fearful and too afraid to engage in public life. CVT is leading the movement to recognize the strategic and humanitarian contributions of torture treatment centers to the broader international human rights movement. Treatment for victims of torture is a humanitarian strategy because it provides care to individuals so they can overcome the depression, anxiety, fear, and thoughts of suicide. But treatment also has a strategic benefit because when we bring leaders back to work, communities can recover and overcome the culture of fear and apathy.
CVT is the result of a conversation between then-Minnesota governor Rudy Perpich and his son, Rudy Perpich, Jr. The governor promised his son he would use his position to act on behalf of human rights. Governor Perpich sought ideas from local leaders, including Minnesota Advocates for Human Rights and David Weissbrodt, a professor at the University of Minnesota Law School and expert in international human rights law. They presented the governor with a list of ten ideas for action--the most ambitious being the establishment of the first treatment center in the U.S. for victims of torture.
~Holly Ziemer, Minneapolis, MN