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Torture and trauma

Effects of torture and trauma

If you, or someone you care about, has experienced torture or trauma, there is trauma informed specialist help available. This help is culturally responsive, which means it:

  • takes into consideration the cultural differences you may face when seeking help around your health issues
  • understands the impact of migration, forced migration, re-settlement and acculturation
  • is sensitive to the stigma you may possibly face within your community
  • can further assist you to access supportive services and appropriate health care.

The lasting effects of torture and trauma may include:

  • ongoing physical pain (due to injuries and/or altered pain perception, or with no organic cause)
  • heart racing, difficulties breathing etc
  • nightmares and other sleep problems
  • irritability, angry outbursts, overly alert to danger
  • difficulties with concentration, motivation and finding anything meaningful in life
  • guilt and shame
  • feelings of ongoing fear, sadness, anger or grief
  • feeling ‘trapped’ in the past, numb or ‘detached’ from reality or other people
  • flashbacks and ongoing intrusive memories of the event(s)
  • social isolation and avoidance of anything that would remind of the traumatic event(s)
  • brain injury and sometimes symptoms of epilepsy or similar (e.g. pseudo-seizures)
  • anxiety and depression
  • post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • develop ‘unhealthy’ relationships with alcohol, drugs, pain medication etc
  • self-harm behaviour, suicidality, domestic violence, undesirable social behaviour etc.

Family members of victims – especially children and partners – may also need support to deal with these after-effects.

Where to get help

  • The Queensland Transcultural Mental Health Centre offers information, advice and trauma informed clinical consultation services for culturally and linguistically diverse communities in Queensland. Phone (07) 3167 8333.
  • Queensland Program of Assistance to Survivors of Torture and Trauma (QPASTT) offers free help to people who have been tortured or suffered refugee related trauma before migrating to Australia. Phone (07) 3391 6677.
  • Harmony Place offers mental health services for culturally and linguistically diverse people and communities. Phone (07) 3848 1600.
  • Culture in Mind is a community-based service that supports the social, emotional and mental wellbeing of migrants, refugees and people seeking asylum in the greater Brisbane area. Phone (07) 3333 2100.
  • Selectability is a not-for-profit, community mental wellbeing and suicide prevention service supporting the people and communities of northern, central and western Queensland. Phone 1800 133 123.
  • Find out more about help lines, counselling and support groups in Queensland.