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Victims must Heal!

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There is no Healing in the Absence of Trust- Prof. Doris H. Gray

Sakshi Sharda, Sajili Oberoi

The individual, social and the State forgets to heal. State response to emergency events (manmade and natural) looks at the relationship between the citizen and itself as contractual. The focus of the state is located in verification and compensation. Paramount importance is given to the non-tangible and subjective idea of national security surpassing the individual. This has become more so a reality today during the Pandemic than ever before. 

Social Security Schemes can only be accessed with the right documentation and verification, even the life-saving Vaccination right now needs scheduling, verification and documentation. In these conditions, there is no conversation around healing. 

The individual pain and suffering are ignored, and individuals get loose in the social body. This leads to creating a specific knowledge controlled by powerful political bodies who ensure a production of history that subsumes the individual within the narrative of the national objective. Prof Doris Gray locates the importance of individual narrative and needs for personal healing to public and political trauma.

“One of the few times in my life where the whole world is wishing for the same thing.”

Prof Doris Gray

Healing a Political Responsibility

There is scholarly and social merit to witness social events and issues from the lens of the individual. Some connections are present in personal fate and larger socio-political questions. Highlighting these connections is the goal of feminist movements that call for the right to grieve. They help in healing by sharing experiences and letting one believe that they are not sole victims.

Personal is Political’ is the idea that gives salience to women’s agency and voices in healing their grief. This grief locates within the larger socio-political fabric of a country. There is knowledge production, which is the result of a lack of truth. A deceitful leadership results in a distrusting society. The absence of trust hinders harmonious living in a society.

When leaders are deceitful they create a model of democracy wherein there comes an atmosphere of acceptance of deceit. It corrodes the ability to harmoniously living together and turns neighbors against each other.

Prof Gray

While this distrust is the result of the macro actors, it impacts the individual. Trauma results in secrecy, which results in emotional distancing. This emotional gap makes trauma a multi-generational healing process for an individual. COVID- 19 will not only have reverberations in the economy but also within the social and within the family. 

The baggage of trauma holds within it the burden of intersectional identities. The women who suffer trauma during conflicts develop a strong distrust towards the community, society, and state. In cultures, the family’s honor rests in the sexual virtue of women, which results in hidden sexual trauma that would if expressed, can heal the community. The researcher/ interviewer or the state should be to begin the process of healing for the individual.

Healing: Not a Linear Journey

Prof Gray located the importance of healing for the individual within the larger rubric of the secret’s security. Respecting the victim’s right to hold the secret, she points that not every truth needs all the facts. Truth known in the absence of details is still a truth that needs to be addressed. 

A crucial methodological intervention that comes from Prof Gray is that the researcher must always locate the embodiment from grief beyond words. The body itself manifests distress, whatever is shared is only the tip of the iceberg, that the victim is inviting the researcher into.

Healing is a process that victims must have access to, which can only be in the presence of trust. 

Reconciliation and healing can only begin once the victim feels safe enough to share. Prof Gray highlights particular modalities that are important for an individual to heal:

  1. There need to be places of trust where the individual feels safe enough to share their truth and reveal a parallel truth to factual history.
  2. The listening of the truth has to be careful, mainly because what truth one is being revealed is only the tip of the iceberg of the secret keeper’s trauma.
  3. The process of careful listening validates the pain of the trauma for the narrator. From her linguistics experience, Prof Rukmini Bhaya Nair intervenes in the uniqueness of women sharing their pain, which is more explanatory within group settings. Following this, Prof. Gray points that the narrator can find their language and continue to articulate their trauma, and begin healing through sharing.
  4. Authority should express the harm done. The intangible restitution of acknowledging the remorse by the authorities has its importance in healing. It provides the ability for the trauma victim to move past the shrouded pain and secrecy.

Meaning-making from Devastation

There is meaning-making that individuals engage in reshaping themselves, their self, community, society, and the state. Dr. Nandini Murali details through the journey of her own grief the nonlinear nature of healing. She voices her concern that the recent focus on medicine has reduced grief to pathological disorders. This has resulted in the grief phobic culture. There is a need to decontextualize grief and place it in a larger political sphere.

Methodologically Prof. Smita Kumar intervenes that heuristics research has the scope to expand scholarly endeavors towards individual grief. There is a unity in the pain and torture that presents within the methodology and provides within it the location for collective healing. There is a need to account for the unique lived experience and grief of women.

Prof Gray, spoke of the location of meaning-making to ensure that the narrator can own their story. This owning would only be the result of progress from anger, vengeance, revenge to acceptance. There is a necessity to walk from that pain and not let that be your only identity.

Watch Prof. Doris Gray on @IMPRI #WebPolicyTalk

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