Facts about torture

Torture is a frontal assault on human dignity and is among the most devastating crimes against individuals, families and communities. Torture survivors are left with deep scars on body and soul and live with major personal, health and social challenges.

Fact sheets on torture and torture methods

What types of torture are there?

Learn more about torture and read DIGNITY’s Health and Legal Fact Sheet Collections about torture and torture methods.


DIGNITY's Health Fact Sheet Collection


DIGNITY's Legal Fact Sheet Collection

What is torture?

Torture is when a public official intentionally inflicts on a person physical or mental severe pain for the purpose of obtaining a particular result. This could e.g. be to obtain information or a confession or to suppress and intimidate. Regrettably, the list of methods of torture is long, including i.a. physical torture such as waterboarding, beating, electric shock and rape or psychological torture such as isolation, threats and mock executions.

Anyone can be subjected to torture, but the victims are often innocent people chosen arbitrarily and belonging to a vulnerable social group. They are often poor or belong to religious, sexual and ethnic minorities. Many of the refugees coming to Denmark have personally experienced war, torture and violence in their home country. They have fought for equal rights and taken a stand against oppressive regimes and have now wound up in Denmark.

Torture has extensive negative consequences for the victim. Physically, torture can e.g. lead to chronic pain, reduced mobility and brain damage. Psychologically, torture can i.a. lead to PTSD, anxiety, depression and flashbacks to the torture situation. All of the above may make it difficult for the victim to care for himself/herself and his/her family and integrate into a new country.

Since 1982, DIGNITY has carried out research in torture and the consequences of torture. We know that torture most often provides unreliable information. Research shows that torture can make the victim’s brain ’disconnect’. Therefore, the torture victims have difficulties distinguishing between fantasy and fact and will say anything to avoid further torture. In 2014, a committee under the US Senate published a report on the CIA’s use of torture and its conclusion was clear; CIA had systematically subjected prisoners to torture and other cruel and inhuman treatment without obtaining any useful information.

Videos about torture