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Coping with Trauma

berlebende_Zuschnitt.JPGEsira always wears her clothes and shoes to bed so she does not feel defenseless in case the militia turns up to search the asylum. Other refugees don't turn out the lights during the night. They hope to chase away the tormenting memories when it gets dark. These are memories of gunshots, beatings and abuse, as well as the loss of loved ones. The memory of the mortal fear they experienced when their own life was in danger.

Trauma arises when people are exposed to circumstances so threatening there is no more protection or safety. Horror sets in so strongly that feelings of fear and helplessness prevail. The world doesn't seem to be a safe and habitable place any longer.

Many refugees or displaced persons suffer from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). It is characterized by nightmares, sleeplessness, depression, panic attacks and paranoia. Suicide rates are high. Without professional help, the victims can hardly cope with their situation. Studies show a significant increase of violence in families, which can be associated with experiences of violence, humiliation and trauma, specifically during war. All of this means that war is not over for the victims even after the fighting is done. It often affects next generations.

The events in Bosnia and Herzegovina drew public attention to the fact that sexually-motivated violence is often used as a strategy of war. During the war (1992-1995), thousands of women were kidnapped and taken to special camps to be systematically raped.

In 1993, Amica e.V. began to take care of traumatised women in the war regions of Bosnia and Herzegovina. The NGO developed a pilot project in the city of Tuzla to offer psychosocial help to women and girls. Today, psychologists and social workers reach out to hundreds of girls and women also in Kosovo, Chechnya and the Palestinian Territories and offer professional help and solidarity. A new cooperation began in Libya in September 2012. The women in these centers talk about their experiences, offer support to each other and gain the courage and confidence to face the future.

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