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STRI – Working with Women Survivors of Torture, Rape and their Intrusions

STRI – Working with Women Survivors of Torture, Rape and their Intrusions

STRI is the Sanskrit word for woman. In our project it stands for Surviving Torture, Rape and their Intrusions. There is widespread evidence that rape and sexual abuse are contemporary ‘weapons’ in warfare. Just as they were used in medieval times in conflict, they continue to be a means to disempower and gain control over women and the ethnic communities the women belong to. Assisting women to heal from these acts of violence is a challenge for clinicians, particularly due to the stigma and shame associated with disclosure. We trialled a combination of group and individual treatment approaches to assist women explore and process the horrors of their experience and break the cycle of humiliation, grief, anger, avoidance and intrusion commonly associated with survivors of torture and rape. STRI creatively integrates principles of NET (Narrative Exposure Therapy), teaching stories and grounding techniques in a culturally sensitive manner. Although developed in response to the needs of Tamil asylum seekers, this project can easily be extended to other cultural groups.