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Violence & Trauma

Global research shows that there is a clear link between violence and trauma. The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) states that “One of the most significant consequences of armed conflict and other situations of violence is their impact on the mental health and psychosocial well-being of the people affected”.
Adapted from ICRC

Violence and torture have profound long-term effects. While these effects may be physical, they are often also psychological. Victims of violence often live with severe psychological effects including nightmares, fear, anxiety, depression, anger and more. Most victims opt to keep to themselves and avoid being involved in community building activities. For many victims of violence, thoughts of vengeance reoccur. If trauma is left unaddressed, then a potential cycle of violence could occur.
Adapted from EMU cycles of Violence.

In her paper: The Impact of Individual Traumas on Communities and Societies1, Béatrice Pouligny states:

There are four main mechanisms through which individual trauma impacts communities.

  • First, there is functional impact, pertaining to the way families and communities function. The existence of a large percentage of individuals displaying symptoms of trauma has consequences on the way communities interact and operate...
  • A second mechanism is symbolic impacts, in which trauma affects the community’s conception of human bonds and the way individuals think of themselves in relation to the group…
  • A third mechanism is a potential cycle of violence and trauma, if trauma is not addressed. Cycles are seen as inward and outward expressions of reactive violence in which victims can become perpetrators and visa versa. However it is important to note that this is not a mechanical result but untreated trauma increases the risk of this pattern…
  • Related to this is a fourth mechanism in which trauma has intergenerational effects or the notion of ‘historic trauma in which narratives of traumatic events are passed down to the next generation…

Adapted from World Bank Invisible Wounds
World Bank (2014), “Invisible Wounds”: A Practitioners’ Dialogue on improving Development Outcomes through psychosocial support

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