Families are often separated by war, conflict and forced migration. Many families have lived through years of uncertainty and suffering, and sometimes also experienced long bureaucratic processes before they are finally reunited in a new society. In addition many family members have been exposed to traumatic events prior to reunification, such as imprisonment, torture and war. The reunification in itself also presents the family with new challenges. Whereas one part of the family has lived in the new country for some time, the newly arrived family member(s) meets the host country for the first time. Finding the way back into family life in a new and complex context, may represent a combination of great joy, relief and difficult stress. Families with these experiences have been interviewed as part of a project on intervention with reunited families.
Both families who are seeking professional assistance, and families who have managed the transitions well and not asked for such help have been interviewed. Their evaluations on what have been stressful and difficult events in the process as well as positive and important events are explored. Family therapists working with the families are also included among the informants. Based on the conversations with the families and their helpers two aspects will be presented: the experiences of families on ways of coping during the process of finding family members, obtaining reunification and actually getting together as families, and the experiences of the helpers. An outline for intervention and assistance to families will be discussed, with special reference to ways of providing early and possible preventive support in this process.
A continuous recording of the meeting held by STAARTS on Nov 14, 2018
Resilience refers to successful adaptation despite adversity, ability to overcome hardships and trauma, developmental competencies or even blossoming in harsh conditions. Abundant research is available on the child-family-and society-related factors that enhance resilience in various hardships including parental mental illness, childhood abuse and major trauma of war and terrorism. In addition to these explanatory factors, it is urgent to understand processes and dynamic mechanisms that underlie the human resilient capacities.
The paper is based on a long-standing research and clinical work with children and adolescents who were exposed to chronic adverse circumstances linked to war in ex-Yugoslavia, exile and deteriorated social context and to abuse and/or neglect in family. The main groups of factors influencing the outcome of traumatic experience were: dimensions of traumatic experience, child's own resources, family network and the social context. Emotional and cognitive maturity of the child, high self-esteem, secure attachment, child's ability to use spontaneously natural ways of healing like play, dreams, creative expression, were the most often recognized protective factors, while the history of previous trauma and pre-existing psychopathology were the most important vulnerability factors.
Medica Mondiale is an international non-governmental organization who supports women and girls who have been sexually violated during war and civil conflict. It also provides services for women affected by other forms of gender-based violence in post-war and conflict zones. medica mondiale built and supports women’s psychosocial and counselling and training centres in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Albania, Kosovo, Afghanistan, Liberia and DRCongo and supports small scale psychosocial projects for women affected by violence in Cambodia, East Timor, Iraq, Israel, Nepal, Mexico, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Turkey and Uganda.