04/18/2013 04:57 pm ET

The Last Refuge: Survivors Of Torture Rebuild Their Lives In Manhattan

Jessica Bal

I walk in at seven o’clock on the dot, expecting to be one of the first to arrive at the benefit concert for the NYU/Bellevue Program for Survivors of Torture (or PSOT). To my surprise, as I step into the third-floor event space of an otherwise nondescript Times Square sports bar, I find there’s already quite a crowd.

The director of the organization, Dr. Allen Keller, is working the room, jovially schmoozing with a pair of older women in one corner. A few twenty-somethings are chatting and sipping beers at the bar. And in the middle of the room, a regal West African woman is holding court in a shocking pink evening gown, surrounded by a small group of supporters, all PSOT clients and survivors of torture.