Dear readers, Violence, conflict and war do eventually end. However, the events from the past still haunt those who experienced violent conflict. In our newest issue of Balkan.Perspectives we are therefore focusing on the psychological effects of war and conflict. We want to draw attention to those who are still affected by the past. How do people who have been traumatized cope with their experiences? What kind of support do they get from their societies and where have they been neglected?
Furthermore, since every dark cloud has a silver lining, we also want to explore how people maintained their daily routine during war in order to protect their mental sanity and how they reacted when life around them fell apart. Some of them stood in opposition to violence and tried to fight against their own and other people’s traumatization.
The voices of those who were present during the violent events of the past and who are still dealing with their experiences should be heard by us all. All of us should acknowledge their situation and be dedicated to a better future, a future in which we prevent violence and hatred and are aware of the importance of our mental health. It is crucial to reflect on how to take care of yourself and what we need in order to feel stable and secure.
The first article offers us a general introduction into the concepts of trauma and resilience and describes which circumstances can help individuals to deal with traumatizing situations.
In addition, we present the work of Medica Kosova in Gjakova, the Foundation for local democracy in Sarajevo and the Center for War Trauma in Novi Sad. They have all been working with and for traumatized people since the conflicts of the 90s and continue to do so until this day. Their work is crucial for a lot of people who, thanks to the efforts of these organizations, are now able to now live a healthy and stable life despite the horrors that lie in their past.
Furthermore, a report about the Rehabilitation Centre for Torture Victims in Kosovo sheds light on the aspect of secondary trauma and explores how those who want to help people with trauma deal with the difficult stories they hear every day. Professionals who have not directly made traumatizing experiences can also suffer from secondary trauma if they don’t take care of their own mental health.
Besides those who are dealing with trauma today there are also individuals and organizations who have tried to create an environment that would allow people to maintain their mental health and dignity during the war. A wonderful example are certain media outlets in Sarajevo who, at the time of the siege of the city, did not play the role of an agent of propaganda but tried to fight one-sided and biased reporting. Even in times of fear and danger they chose to offer peaceful resistance.
The Oral History Initiative Kosovo collects narratives of numerous individuals who are willing to share the stories of their lives. The initiative offers a platform for those stories “which are often ignored, erased, deemed unimportant” and gives room to stories that are often not included in official history books.
As usual, we are looking forward to receiving feedback from our readers. For further questions, remarks and subscriptions please send us an email to balkan. email@example.com.
I hope that you will benefit from reading our newest issue and wish you a wonderful autumn season.
Maike Dafeld / Editor in chief