5 years ago

“What kept me going”: A qualitative study of avoidant responses to war-related adversity and perpetration of violence by former forcibly recruited children and youth in the Acholi region of northern Uganda

This qualitative study investigates what, according to 36 former forcibly recruited women and men, enabled them to “keep on going” during and after their forced recruitment in the twenty-year-long civil war in northern Uganda. Furthermore, the study conveys the ways most of the former forcibly recruited kept on going and today cope with ongoing war-related adversity and difficult reintegration processes without relying on psycho-social intervention. Thirty-five of the 36 women and men were forcibly recruited when they were children by the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) from the Acholi region of northern Uganda. Over the course of five visits to the Acholi region from 2012 to 2016, 10 months of ethnographic fieldwork was carried out involving interviews and participant observation. The 36 Acholi women and men shared how they experienced and responded to suffering from brutal torture and being forced to perpetrate often lethal violence against fellow Acholi who had tried to escape the LRA. The article provides an overview of the responses to this war-related adversity and the results document how avoidant coping is the preferred and most common coping response among the 36 former forcibly recruited women and men in this study. We take an interdisciplinary approach to discussing how these avoidant coping responses resonate with psycho-traumatology research on responses to war-related trauma and with conceptualizations of resilience. We end with the argument that avoidant responses to war-related adversity, when faced in clinical and diagnostic settings, should not be understood exclusively from a biomedical perspective: Responses to war-related adversity must be carefully investigated in collaboration with the human beings who have experienced the war-related adversity and based on integrative and emic approaches that consider the locally situated notions of how to cope with adversity and “keep on going” in their own right.

Publisher URL: www.sciencedirect.com/science

DOI: S027795361730429X

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