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Breaking the Chains of Trauma: How Survivors of Torture Can Reclaim Their Lives

How Survivors of Torture Can Reclaim Their Lives

Breaking the Chains of Trauma

Survivors of torture face significant psychological and physical trauma that can have a lasting impact on their health and well-being. In this article, we will explore the experiences of torture survivors and the effects of torture on their mental health. We will also explore the importance of seeking professional support and guidance to overcome the trauma associated with torture, and how psychotherapy can help survivors of torture on their journey of healing.

According to the United Nations, an estimated 50,000 people are tortured each year worldwide, with many more experiencing other forms of violence and abuse. Torture can take many forms, including physical abuse, sexual violence, and psychological manipulation. Survivors of torture may experience a range of physical and psychological symptoms, including chronic pain, anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Studies have shown that up to 80% of survivors of torture experience symptoms of PTSD. PTSD is a mental health condition that can develop after a person experiences or witnesses a traumatic event, such as torture. Symptoms of PTSD include flashbacks, nightmares, avoidance behaviors, and hyperarousal.

Survivors of torture may also experience feelings of shame, guilt, and isolation. They may struggle to trust others and may have difficulty forming relationships. In addition, survivors may face social stigma and discrimination, which can further exacerbate their trauma.

It is important to note that healing from the trauma associated with torture is a journey. However, with the right support and guidance, it is possible to overcome the trauma and reclaim their lives. Professional psychotherapy can be a powerful tool for survivors of torture on their journey of healing. Through therapy, survivors can learn coping skills, process their emotions, and develop a sense of empowerment and control over their lives.

Mego Nerses, is a professional psychotherapist who specializes in working with trauma related issues, with his practice located in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. Nerses has extensive experience working with survivors of torture and other forms of trauma, using evidence-based approaches such as cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR), and mindfulness techniques.

In his practice, Nerses emphasizes the importance of creating a safe and supportive environment for survivors to share their experiences and work through their traumas. He also emphasizes the need for individualized treatment, as each survivor’s experience and needs are unique.

If you or someone you know is a survivor of torture, it is important to seek out professional support and guidance. Mego Nerses and other qualified psychotherapists can provide the tools and resources necessary to overcome trauma and reclaim one’s life. Contact Nerses or a qualified therapist in your area for help and support.

In addition to professional support, survivors of torture may benefit from connecting with other survivors. Support groups and community organizations can provide a sense of community and understanding for survivors of torture. These organizations can also provide resources and information on how to access professional support and guidance.


• United Nations. (2021). Torture. Retrieved from
• Kira, I. A., Lewandowski, L., Templin, T., Ramaswamy, V., Ozkan, B., & Mohanesh, J. (2012). Measuring cumulative trauma dose, types, and profiles using a development-based taxonomy of adverse childhood experiences. Journal of Aggression, Maltreatment & Trauma, 21(2), 196-213.
• American Psychological Association. (2017). Clinical Practice Guideline for the Treatment of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) in Adults. Retrieved from

Frequently Asked Questions

An LGBTQI refugee is an individual who has been forced to flee their home country due to persecution based on their sexual orientation or gender identity.
Psychotherapy is a form of talk therapy that can help torture survivors process their emotions, develop coping skills, and overcome trauma. Through therapy, survivors can learn to manage their symptoms and develop a sense of empowerment and control over their lives.
There are several types of psychotherapy that can help torture survivors, including cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR), and psychodynamic therapy. These therapies can be tailored to meet the unique needs of each individual survivor.
The length of psychotherapy can vary depending on the individual needs of each survivor. Some survivors may benefit from short-term therapy, while others may require longer-term treatment.
Medication can be helpful in managing symptoms of trauma, such as anxiety and depression. However, it is not a substitute for psychotherapy, which is the most effective treatment for overcoming trauma.
Survivors of torture can find a qualified psychotherapist by contacting their healthcare provider, local mental health clinic, or community organization. They can also search online for psychotherapists who specialize in treating trauma.
Many insurance plans cover psychotherapy for trauma-related conditions. Survivors of torture should check with their insurance provider to determine their coverage.
During their first psychotherapy session, survivors of torture can expect to discuss their history and experiences. The therapist will work with the survivor to develop a treatment plan that meets their unique needs.
Survivors of torture may have difficulty talking about their experiences. A qualified psychotherapist can work with survivors to develop coping skills and create a safe space for them to process their emotions.
With the right support and guidance, survivors of torture can overcome their trauma and reclaim their lives. While the healing process may be challenging, many survivors are able to achieve a sense of empowerment and control over their lives through psychotherapy.


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I am an Ottawa-based Registered Psychotherapist and have a full-time private practice. In the past, I worked in social service agencies for many years. I offer individual, relationship, and sex therapy in English, Arabic, and Armenian to adults 18+, and I do not work with minors.

In 2011, I earned a master’s degree in Counselling from the University of Ottawa. I am a Registered Psychotherapist in Ontario (CRPO#001132) with the College of Registered Psychotherapists of Ontario. In addition, I am a Certified Counsellor with the Canadian Counselling and Psychotherapy Association (CCPA#3058). My clinical training focuses on relationship and sex therapy and trauma/PTSD. Since 2013, I have been at Algonquin College as a seasonal professor, teaching courses in mental health and addiction.

I feel privileged to have had the opportunity to publish peer-reviewed articles and contribute chapters concerning Counselling, coming out, and trauma related explicitly to LGBTQ+ refugees and newcomers to Canada. I have presented numerous workshops and continue to offer trainings nationally and internationally on the mental health of LGBTQI+ and SOGIE refugees and asylum seekers.


Professional Work

Early in my professional career, I specialized in individual therapy and served clients with depression, anxiety, PTSD, and grief. Since then, I have taken my clinical work to a higher level and gained more experience in four areas: PTSD and Trauma, Sexuality and Gender Identity, Sex and Relationship Therapy, and Refugee mental health issues. I have received various trainings in these areas since choosing to specialize. As an example, I received training from Division 56, Trauma Psychology, Physicians for Human Rights, and the Global Institute of Forensic Research in writing immigration evaluations for immigration courts. Furthermore, I have completed multiple trainings in trauma/PTSD therapy and relationship therapy (Poly. Kink). I have participated in numerous training opportunities in the field of sex therapy, sexuality, and gender identity. 

I am a LGBTQI+/poly/kink/CNM supportive and informed therapist.

Therapeutic approaches
In addition to Narrative Exposure Therapy for PTSD (NET), I have also been trained in Cognitive Processing Therapy (CPT) for PTSD and Experiential Therapy and Focusing. I integrate social justice and rights-based principles into my work as a trauma-informed therapist.

In recognition of my dedication to helping LGBTQ+ refugees and asylum seekers in Canada, I received the 2017 Humanitarian Award from the Canadian Counselling and Psychotherapy Association (CCPA).

AffiliationsI have an international affiliate membership with Division 56, Trauma Psychology, the American Psychological Association (APA), and the Global Institute of Forensic Research.


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