Victims of torture are disabled physically or mentally not by accident of birth or normal activity but by the deliberate infliction of injury. Torture victims often experience the mental sequelae as the worst ones: impairment of memory and concentration, nightmares and other sleep disturbances, sexual disturbances, fear, depression, fatigue, sense of guilt, feeling of isolation, loss of identity and very low self-esteem. This may be due to the fact that family and friends tend to respond negatively to psychological symptoms and with sympathy toward physical ones. Frequent physical sequelae are pains in muscles, joints and bones, headaches, gastro-intestinal symptoms and specific problems related to specific tortures. In additions the conditions of their imprisonment aggravate the physical and mental problems they face. They may suffer from malnutrition, infections and diseases from over crowding.
While victims of torture have existed since ancient Egypt times, the tendency of the past few years has been for torture to be used not only as a means of repression of the individual, as was the case up to now, but as a means of mass political repression. At the same time the social situation changed. Those exercising torture today normally desire to leave as few obvious tracks as possible. Using the latest techniques and equipment torturers can be more systematic and goal oriented. Most victims of torture are released only after all objective effects have disappeared. Those who are injured beyond healing are often executed.