Torture, war atrocities, and other violations of human rights are global issues.

From forced family separation to rape to slavery, these issues can plague every country. The mission of the Center for Victims of Torture (CVT) is to heal the wounds of torture on individuals, their families and their communities and to end torture worldwide.

“When you have torture or war atrocities committed on a large scale it can leave entire communities traumatized,” said the organization’s executive director, Curt Goering. “The purpose of torture is not only to destroy or impact an individual in a highly negative way it also impacts the community and the family as well.”

With families being separated at the Mexican border while trying to enter the U.S., more than two thousand children have been placed in cages while waiting to be reunited with their families.

“The separation of children from families at the border is something we are urging Congress to act on because what is happening is extreme cruelty if not torture,” said Goering.

As executive director,  Goering oversees an international staff with offices inAtlanta,St. Paul andWashington D.C., and healing projects inAfrica and theMiddle East.

One of the more gut-wrenching tales, Goering shared the narrative of a woman, “Mary,” he met a couple of weeks ago from Northern Uganda; who he said was kidnapped by a militia group at 9 years old and forced into sex slavery and became one of the senior military commander’s wife.

Goering said CVT was working with survivors; victims of the Lord’s Resistance Army, a rebel group battling the Ugandan government at the time of Mary’s capture. Goering said she was in captivity for 11 years before she was able to escape after she bore a child as a result of rape. She said she suffered unimaginable emotional psychological and physical wounds as a result of what she had been through.

Goering said CVT interacts with about five thousand individuals like Mary every year.

CVT provides comprehensive care for victims of government-sponsored torture, conducts research and training, and undertakes policy efforts in the U.S. and other countries to work against torture and aid torture survivors.

“With the right kind of professional support people do improve, are able to recover and become productive citizens of society again,” said the executive director.

Goering was a guest on “Conversations with Al McFarlane.” “Conversations” airs on 90. 3 FM, KFAI on Tuesdays at 1 p.m. and online at

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