The Victims of Violence

Ninigui Village woman

Photo: P. Casier (CGIAR)


Social conflicts have always been with humanity. But, they seem to be more frequent and destructive in our highly populated, diverse, and technologically advanced world. Consequently many people are suffering. These disasters cause emotional, interpersonal, and social problems. Among emotional problems are sadness, anger, fear, guilt, depression, and discontent. Some interpersonal difficulties caused by violence are marital conflict, family breakdown, and mutual mistrust. Also, such problems as crime, racism, and drug and alcohol abuse, as well as gender inequality, extreme poverty, and disregard of universal human rights and responsibilities are often present in conditions of conflict and violence. Problems caused by human conflict and violence are so devastating because humans make choices and with choice comes responsibility.

In every act of violence there are perpetrators, primary victims, and secondary victims (bystanders, relatives, friends, etc.). Both perpetrators and victims of violence need healing and recovery. To prevent human violence effectively and fully, we must help perpetrators and victims alike. The act of killing another human being is fundamentally an un-human act. Among the main qualities of humanness is love and respect for life, in general, and for human life, in particular. Through our love of life, we have reverence for life and express our humanness. For this reason one of the main functions of the military establishment and leaders in acts of terrorism is to convince their soldiers and subordinates that “the enemy” is a dangerous subhuman species. Thus, they are “justified” and have the “responsibility” to kill such an enemy and by so doing, both protect their own and their kin’s lives and simultaneously reaffirm their own humanness.

Perpetrators of violence usually deal with the negative consequences of their own actions in three ways:

  • Self-destruction through carelessness, neglect, alcohol and substance abuse, self-loathing, and other personal/interpersonal destructive behavior;
  • Self-delusion, believing that they have committed no wrong and continue in their ways if not prevented; and
  • Self-correction, through good deeds, repentance, acceptance of punishment, prayer, and begging for forgiveness.

All three groups would benefit from an appropriate healing and recovery program. To be continued in coming blogs.

(H.B. Danesh)