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FOCUS June 2001 Volume 24

Healing

People who survive human rights violations, either as victims themselves or relatives and friends of victims, may have to live with the experience for the rest of their lives. Legal accountability for the violators does not necessarily erase the trauma.

It is thus necessary to emphasize the need to heal the non-physical wound caused by human rights violations. Healing addresses the future, aims at building the confidence to live without fear and bitterness. It helps people move on with their lives.

Human rights workers who engage in the healing of psychological trauma are thus important players in the human rights field. They have to contend with the fact that the healing process takes much time and patience. Turning bad memory into a manageable problem does not happen in a few months. It requires years and a lot of work for both the human right workers and the victims.

Healing psychological trauma will become even more prominent as the work for the rehabilitation of victims of sexual violence, human trafficking, social discrimination, and other forms of human rights violations become more widespread. These cases add to the victims of torture, harassment, illegal detention, displacement due to military operations, among others, which have traditionally been identified as human rights violations.

Equally important is the need for people in general to learn the intricacies and forms of this problem. Healing the victims may lead to healing the society that breeds human rights violations.


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