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Legacies of the 1994 Rwandan genocide : Organized violence, family violence, mental health and post-conflict related attitudes examined among families of genocide survivors and former prisoners

Legacies of the 1994 Rwandan genocide : Organized violence, family violence, mental health and post-conflict related attitudes examined among families of genocide survivors and former prisoners

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RIEDER, Heide, 2014. Legacies of the 1994 Rwandan genocide : Organized violence, family violence, mental health and post-conflict related attitudes examined among families of genocide survivors and former prisoners [Dissertation]. Konstanz: University of Konstanz

@phdthesis{Rieder2014Legac-29422, title={Legacies of the 1994 Rwandan genocide : Organized violence, family violence, mental health and post-conflict related attitudes examined among families of genocide survivors and former prisoners}, year={2014}, author={Rieder, Heide}, address={Konstanz}, school={Universität Konstanz} }

Rieder, Heide War, genocide and ethnic cleansing have long-lasting and devastating effect at both the individual and community level. Numerous studies from Cambodia, former Yugoslavia or Rwanda reported elevated levels of mental and physical illness among survivors of organized violence. Less studied are the consequences for perpetrators of organized violence. Besides a focus on trauma-related disorders in this field, the results also demonstrate a risk to pass down individual experiences of violence from one generation to another.<br /><br />In an epidemiological cross-sectional survey we examined the consequences of the 1994 Rwandan genocide among a community sample in Muhanga, part of the Southern Province, 16 years after. A team of seven local psychologists (BA level) from the National University of Rwanda (NUR) with great expertise in carrying out structured clinical interviews conducted 360 interviews in four sectors (administrative unit) of Muhanga. They were supervised by the author of the present thesis. We recruited genocide survivors and former prisoners namely presumed genocide perpetrators whose children were between 13 and 15 years old (n = 59) or between 19 and 31 years old (n = 129). In all three present studies, trauma confrontation was assessed by means of an event scale adapted to the Rwandan context (Schaal & Elbert, 2006). Symptom severity and the diagnostic status of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) were measured by the PTSD Symptom Scale- Interview (PSS-I, Foa & Tolin, 2000). In the first and second study depressive and anxious symptoms were assessed by means of the Hopkins Symptom Checklist (HSCL-25, Derogatis et al., 1974). Additionally, the Childhood Trauma Questionnaire (CTQ, Bernstein & Fink, 1998) was applied in the second study to assess child maltreatment retrospectively. Finally, the Inventory of Interpersonal Problems (IIP-32, Horowitz et al., 1988) was applied in the third study as well as semi structured scales assessing intergroup behavior, attitudes toward local reconciliation and justice processes, perceived sense of justice and the attribution of responsibility of violence.<br /><br />The aim of the first study (N = 360) was to assess the consequences of genocide on mental health and psychosocial conditions among genocide survivors in comparison to former prisoners and their respective children. Survivors reported the highest level of exposure to traumatic events. Compared to former prisoners they showed significantly higher levels of depressive and anxious symptoms but not regarding the diagnostic status of PTSD (24.7% versus 22.0%). This was due to the fact that former prisoners reported the same amount of intrusive symptomatology. However, they reported traumatic events that were related to their experience of flight and their time spent in prison rather than to the period of genocide itself. While groups did not differ significantly regarding their status of social integration, former prisoners showed a higher economic level. The number of reported traumatic events, physical illness and the level of social integration proved to be predictors of the level of PTSD among the adult generation. The group of descendants of survivors presented with higher levels of distress than descendants of former prisoners. The group of descendants born after 1994 did not show any clinically relevant mental disorder.<br /><br />The objective of the second study was to estimate prevalence rates and predictors of child maltreatment such as physical, sexual and emotional violence and neglect among descendants who were either born before or after the genocide (N = 188). In a second step we examined predictors separately for either the level of depressive and anxious symptoms or PTSD. The results revealed low prevalence rates of child maltreatment (less than 10%) whereas 60% of the respondents according to the CTQ potentially underreported their experience of violence at home. Female sex, poverty, the death of one’s mother, the number of traumatic event types and the parents’ level of PTSD as well as their own experience of child maltreatment proved to be significant predictors of reported child maltreatment. Furthermore, the results showed that cumulative stress comprising both the experience of organized violence and family violence increases the risk to develop depressive and anxious symptoms but not symptoms of PTSD.<br /><br />In the third study (N = 129), we analyzed how the consequences of genocide trauma and a family’s characteristics are related to interpersonal problems, attitudes toward local justice and reconciliation, and openness to intergroup contact across former ethnic lines among the youth born before 1994. According to the IIP-32, descendants of survivors reported a higher level of interpersonal problems in general and on the sub scales being too cold, socially avoidant and vindictive in specific compared to descendants of former prisoners. They had a more negative perception of local processes of post-conflict justice and reconciliation, were less open toward intergroup relationships with peers of the “out-group” and attributed the responsibility of genocidal violence more commonly to the individual level than to situational circumstances. Parental attitudes toward local justice and reconciliation and the perceived sense of post-conflict justice reported by descendants, proved to be predictors of attitudes toward local justice and reconciliation among the latter. Vindictive behavior as a potential consequence of exposure to trauma rather than the level of PTSD itself explained whether descendants were less open toward the out-group or not. eng 2014-12-11T09:15:01Z 2014-12-11T09:15:01Z 2014 Rieder, Heide Legacies of the 1994 Rwandan genocide : Organized violence, family violence, mental health and post-conflict related attitudes examined among families of genocide survivors and former prisoners

Dateiabrufe seit 11.12.2014 (Informationen über die Zugriffsstatistik)

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