Patterns of torture among forcibly displaced Eritreans in California: A cross-sectional study

P. Suzanne Portnoy, Alejandro Diaz, Jenna Kupa, Isabelle Rocroi, Emily Tatel, Kala Mehta, Nicholas Nelson
2021 Journal on Rehabilitation of Torture Victims and Prevention of Torture  
Introduction: Unprecedented global increases in involuntary migration have created large populations of forcibly displaced people, who are disproportionately likely to have experienced abuse and torture. We undertook this study to better understand the frequency and consequences of specific types of torture and abuse within an immigrant population in our community, San Francisco, East Bay. Methods and Results: We conducted a cross-sectional study of 59 Eritreans seeking asylum in the United
more » ... es presenting to a human rights clinic for forensic medical and psychological evaluations. Demographic features of individuals, reported history and specific types of torture, and physical and psychological sequelae were analyzed. Over 300 instances of torture were reported, an average of about 6 per person. The primary forms of torture reported were beating and forced positioning, and many others were reported sporadically. 90% of asylum seekers examined had clinical findings which were consistent with the torture they reported, and some physical findings had clinical as well as forensic significance. 86% met diagnostic criteria for post-traumatic stress disorder. Discussion: Forcibly displaced people are likely to have witnessed and experience violence, deprivation, and abuse, and for this reason bear a disproportionate burden of physical, psychological, and social morbidity. Our study describes the epidemiology of torture and its consequences in a specific population, and demonstrates why understanding local and general epidemiology of torture and other forms of abuse is necessary to provide excellent biopsychosocial care to forcibly displaced people.
doi:10.7146/torture.v31i1.121786 pmid:34606477 fatcat:k4duswpdfzaflcow3pf6s4elde