Midnight in The Basement, oil on canvas, Lynn Schirmer

Artifactual Testimonies

February 18, 2013

I must give credit to Linda MacDonald and Jeanne Sarson, whose concept of “Artifactual Evidence” also inspired the creation of this website. Linda and Jeanne advocate at the United Nations and in Canada for the social and legal recognition of “Non-State Torture” (torture in the private sphere), including Ritual Abuse-Torture. In 2004, they collected and presented poems, letters, paintings, drawings, and photos by survivors to a United Nations Commission on the Status of Women panel.

View art by survivors here:


More about Linda and Jeanne:

The reasons we became involved in exposing NSAT goes back to 1993. Working with mostly women reporting relationally violent experiences, we immediately realized one woman‘s disclosures mirrored acts of ‘classic‘ torture, socially perceived to exist only in the public domain of State torturing. Electric shocking, prolonged hours of being hung, cut, burnt, whipped, beaten, limbs dislocated, starved, caged, water tortured, drugged, bestiality, pseudo-necrophilic and torture-rapes, forced impregnations and abortions identified some tortures she detailed suffering since childhood, inflicted within a family/group system. Unable to find torture-informed support for her and unwilling to abandon her led us to become independent researchers/scholars, human right defenders and grassroot supporters. Opening our website, www.nonstatetorture.org brought mainly women from Australia, New Zealand, Western Europe, the U.S. and Canada to contact us reporting NSAT victimization. We remain outraged that article 5 of the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights which states “no one shall be subjected to torture” has been discarded as a human rights violation inflicted predominately against women/girls in the domestic/private sphere. This is unconscionable and intolerable.

Transforming this discriminatory and dehumanizing worldview—including a Canadian socio-cultural viewpoint—is why we do what we do. Envisioning a world that would one day honour the human rights of all persons—of women and girls as well as men and boys—not to be subjected to torture at any time, in any place irrespective of who the torturers are has driven us to break the silence anywhere and everywhere.