What is torture?
"Torture is any act by which severe pain, whether physical or psychological, is intentionally inflicted on a person as a means of intimidation, deterrence, revenge, punishment, or information gathering. It can be used as an interrogation tactic to extract confessions.
"Torture is almost universally considered to be an extreme violation of human rights, as stated by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Signatories of the Third Geneva Convention and Fourth Geneva Convention agree not to torture protected persons (enemy civilians and POWs) in armed conflicts, and signatories of the UN Convention Against Torture agree not to intentionally inflict severe pain or suffering on anyone, to obtain information or a confession, to punish them, or to coerce them or a third person. (Though, Amnesty International estimates that around two out of three countries do not consistently abide by the spirit of such treaties.)” 
What are the torture techniques?
There are innumerable ways to torutre someone, most notable of which can be:
- Solitary confinement
- Electric shock
- Sexual (e.g. Rape) or porno torture
- Extreme physcial abuse like burning, beating etc
- Forced witnessing or participation of the torture of others
- Depriving food and drink
- Subjecting to abuse by ferocious trained dogs or other animals
- Psychological and psychiatric torture
Effects of torture.
The consequences of torture are multidimensional and interconnected; no part of the survivor's life is untouched. Physical sufferings may diminish over time, but the psychological burn is deep rooted and the torture victim has to live on with it for the rest of his/her life. Psychological effects include, but ar not limited to: nightmares, flashbacks, fear and suspicion of others, esp. law enforcing authorities.
It also becomes very difficult for the survivor to blend back into his family and the society, esp. when family, friends and the people around look at them differently. At times even getting a job might be difficult. All these further distances the survivor with the world around him.
To survive torture and to live with its effects is a triumph of the human will-- the very thing torture is aimed to destroy. This must be acknowledged and appreciated.
So, what can i do?
The United States has trained, funded, and otherwise supported governments that engage in torture (for example, Indonesia, Turkey, Guatemala, Israel, Columbia, China, etc...).
As a start, you can ask your representatives in Congress to:
- Declare public support for the Code of Conduct on Arms Transfers Act of 1997 (S 1067) to prohibit military assistance and arms transfers to governments which do not adequately protect human rights or are engaged in acts of armed aggression.
- Declare public support for the Human Rights Information Act (S 1220 and HR 2635) which would declassify U.S. documents dealing with human rights abuses around the globe.
Further, you can also support organizations dedicated to the eradication of torture around the world, by all possible means, financially, morally and by being involved in person.
[cross posted at scattered words]