Is Acknowledgment of Trauma a Protective Factor? - Case of Chechnya

"Is Acknowledgment of Trauma a Protective Factor? The Sample Case of Refugees from Chechnya" by Andreas Maercker, Marija Povilonyte, Raichat Lianova, and Karin Pöhlmann


The main aim of this study was to investigate the extent of appreciation or disapproval as a victim or survivor in the refugee sample and its association with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms. A lack of social acknowledgment might impede recovery from the traumatizing experience and intensify the posttraumatic reactions. Social acknowledgment forms a specific part of the broader concept of social support in trauma victims. Social support has repeatedly been shown to predict less severe psychopathological outcomes and improved salutogenic outcomes of trauma. As part of the broader social support concept, social acknowledgment focuses specifically on subjectively perceived, positive forms of recognition or, conversely, on disapproval (e.g., belittlement, accusations, ignorance. In this study, social acknowledgment in traumatized victims has been shown to be a recovery or protective factor for PTSD in former political prisoners, crime victims, and traumatized developmental aid workers, also this cross-sectional study provides further evidence that social acknowledgment should be regarded as a protective or resource factor in the aftermath of trauma. Refugees from political conflicts or civil war often complain of ignorance toward their fate on the part of politicians or the general public. With this study, not only war-related traumatic events and PTSD symptoms in Chechen refugees in Ingushetia were investigated, but also the new scale for self-perceived acknowledgment as a victim got tested and the extent of the victims’ disclosure of their traumatic experiences among one another examined.