Victims Of Torture

A range of affective conditions, including trauma, is the legacy of recent political conflicts, twenty years of civil war, the massive atrocities committed during the Khmer Rouge years, and the grave social and economic problems faced by thousands of Cambodians on a daily basis. DC-Cam and the Transcultural Psychosocial Organization (TPO) are working together to implement the two-year Victims of Torture (VOT) Project, which was designed to address the trauma experienced by both the victims and perpetrators of the Khmer Rouge.

Our work was initially conducted in Takeo and Kandal provinces, both of which contain a large proportion of victims of the Khmer Rouge. Of historical importance, both provinces were under the control of Ta Mok (the head of the Southwest Zone during Democratic Kampuchea and a candidate for prosecution under the Khmer Rouge tribunal). This, plus the significant numbers of mass graves and prisons these two provinces, provides strong evidence of large-scale human rights abuses, including torture.

We subsequently added the pilot area of Koh Sla in Kampot province to the project. The majority of survivors in this region were Khmer Rouge soldiers. In addition, Koh Sla is located in the former West Zone, a highly controlled area under the Khmer Rouge regime.

Using the skills they have gained from TPO training and standardized questionnaires, DC-Cam staff members identify clients for TPO. After we identify individuals suffering from PTSD but prior to counseling, TPO assesses their mental health status, levels of functioning, and distress levels using standardized questionnaires such as the WHO-Disability Assessment Schedule 12.

Counseling began in January 2005. Each client’s history will be recorded and kept in confidential files by TPO therapists. At the end of the project, TPO will conduct an evaluation and write up the results in a report.