Mass Trauma: Past and Present
Everyone suffers. In times of war or calamity or natural disaster
everyone suffers together. Yet no matter how far the dark ripples of
pain might spread, suffering is always individual.
—Deepak Chopra (2002)
Recovering from mass psychological trauma depends in part on people's ability to make sense of their experience. In order to do that, they need to answer questions such as, “Why did this happen to me, all of my loved ones, and my friends? Why did this happen to my community?” and “How can I be sure that 1 will be protected in the future?” “Who will protect me?” “Is there any safe place?” “Must I leave my community and my home to be safe?”
As many of us know, Rwanda, suffered a disastrous experience of mass killing and genocide within its borders. A mass genocide was imposed on the Tutsis by the Hutus. The genocide produced staggering statistics that indicate its enormity in terms of cope and process. It created an initial population displacement of 1.7 million Hutus fearing reprisals; left 400,000 widows; 500,000 orphans; and 130,000 imprisoned on suspicion of committing acts of genocide. The country's fledgling judicial system was all but