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Applications of Peacemaking Circles in Meeting the Mental Health Needs of Torture Survivors.

Schechtman, Lisa
June 4, 2015

Source: (2005) M.A. thesis, International Human Rights, University of Denver.

In 1948 the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, in reaction to the horrors of Nazi Germany and World War II, repudiated the use of torture. Statements by international conventions and organizations in the following decades have elaborated and reinforced the rejection of torture. Yet torture continues in many situations in many countries. It can be argued, as Lisa Schechtman does, that various forms of cruel treatment, such as child or spouse abuse, may also qualify as torture. The trauma of torture is both physical and psychological, and survivors may experience effects for years, even the remainder of their lives. Schechtman studied the effects of torture and characteristics of resilience in survivors from Tibet living in India. In this paper she describes her research and the potential of restorative justice processes in assisting torture survivors. After a definition of torture, she goes on to look at restorative justice principles, peacemaking circles as a restorative practice, trauma psychology as an element in peacemaking circles, and steps for building a culture of human rights and peace. Several appendices provide forms, questions, and demographic data used in her research. One appendix also shows a comparison of various therapeutic processes.


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