Recovery Factors Among Torture Survivors
Tuesday, November 3, 2015
The experience of officially sanctioned torture, as appraised by each survivor, informs his or her sense of self and others. For many, the worst thing in the world has happened and the experience cannot be erased. Perception of self, others, and the world is altered. Clinical experts use the term resiliency to describe the ability of survivors to overcome the consequences and challenges of traumatic stress. We wanted to understand if torture survivors experienced themselves as resilient and what factors they considered important in their recovery. With the input of torture survivors, the subjective and necessary components of recovery can be better understood and inform programs how to improve their assistance. Between November of 2012 and December of 2014, six focus groups with torture survivors receiving services at specialized programs in the United States were conducted. Three groups were with women (N=22) and three groups with men (N=16). Participants were between the ages of 26 and 71 years old. Ten countries were represented in the focus groups. Interpreters and note takers were present and audio recordings were transcribed. The concept of resiliency was described to each group and six questions were posed asking survivors if they agreed with the concept and then to describe what helped them to recover from the experience of torture, exile, and resettlement. Emerging themes included sense of community, immigration status, and gender and may contribute valuable input for service programs and policies related to the recovery needs of torture survivors.
Public health or related public policy
Identify factors that contribute to the recovery of torture survivors.
Keyword(s): Refugees, Mental Health
Presenting author's disclosure statement:
Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am a clinical psychologist and worked with torture survivors for more than 25 years and was Senior Director of Torture Treatment Services and International Training at Heartland Alliance Marjorie Kovler Center in Chicago for 12 years. I served as President of the National Consortium of Torture Treatment Programs for 5 years. I now work as a consultant internationally on mental health issues related to trauma, gender-based violence, and HIV.
Any relevant financial relationships? No
I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines,
and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed
in my presentation.