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Thursday, June 18 • 3:45pm - 5:15pm
Resilience in Women in War - Jill Trenholm, Fiona Shanahan

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Resilience in Women in War:

Abstract #134
Against All Odds; Women Survivors of Sexaul Violence in the War in Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo
Presenter: Jill Trenholm
This paper illuminates how women survivors of wartime sexual violence manage “survive-ing” in the stigmatized margins of their impoverished circumstances in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo. The paper departs from an ethnographic study where affected women expressed multiple losses, profound dispossession of identity and marginalization, often with a child born of rape in tow.
Eleven qualitative interviews were conducted with rural women of reproductive age recruited from several organizations supporting women after rape. Thematic analysis and Payne’s theoretical framework “Sites of Resilience” guided the analysis. Women exhibited resilience through agency and pro-active decision-making in severely compromised environments embedded in a global complexity. Faith in God, health interventions that challenge cultural understandings around sexuality, indigenous healing and strategic alliances ie with aid organizations or engaging in survival sex were cited as ways used to manage daily survival. These strategies are identified as sites of resilience and provide vital contextual knowledge for planning effective interventions. Findings suggest that strengthening collaboration between existing networks such as churches, healthcare facilities and indigenous healers could extend the reach of health services, thereby offering sustainable holistic care to those affected by rape but also to entire communities suffering from mass traumatisation associated with wartime sexual violence.

Abstract #248
Resilience in the Post-Conflict Reintegration of Young Women Formerly Associated with the Lord’s Resistance Army
Presenter: Fiona Shanahan
This paper seeks to shed light on the process of reintegration as experienced by young women formerly associated with the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) in northern Uganda, by examining the mechanisms of agency in fostering culturally embedded processes of resiliency. Twenty-nine formerly associated young women, twenty-four of their peers who had not been abducted, and twenty-six members of their families and communities participated in interviews, group discussions and creative methodologies (Veale, 2005), such as drama, photography and mapping, in six Internally Displaced Person’s camps in northern Uganda. Interpretive Phenomenological Analysis (Smith & Osborn, 2008) of the data demonstrates how in contexts of severe constraint, young formerly abducted women use cultural resources to mobilize adaptive processes (Hobfoll et al., 2009) in their own lives and that this mechanism contributes to processes of resiliency. These findings offer new insights on reintegration through the contributions of a socio-cultural lens (Gillespie & Zittoun, 2010; Rogoff, 2003; Vygotsky, 1978) to analytic understandings of the use of resources in resiliency (Masten & Obradovic`, 2008; Ungar, 2008; 2011). The paper aims to support the construction of actionable knowledge that will be of use to victims and survivors, practitioners seeking to mobilize these processes and for programme design.


Fiona Shanahan

Fiona Shanahan is a Government of Ireland Post-doctoral Fellow at the School of Applied Psychology, University College Cork in Ireland, focusing on the reintegration of children and youth formerly associated with armed groups and psychosocial interventions in emergency and post-conflict... Read More →

Jill Trenholm

Jill Trenholm, RN PhD is a researcher/lecturer at the International Maternal and Child Health unit, Faculty of Medicine and is associated with the Centre for Gender Research, both at Uppsala University, Sweden. In September 2013 she defended her doctoral thesis, an ethnographic study... Read More →

Thursday June 18, 2015 3:45pm - 5:15pm EDT
Boardroom A&A 2nd Floor, King's College

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