The staying power of pain. A comparison of torture survivors from Bosnia and Colombia and their rates of anxiety, depression and PTSD.Torture. 2007; 17(1):1-10.T
The article describes symptoms of anxiety, depression and PTSD among Bosnian (n=17) and Colombian (n=17) torture survivors served by the Florida Center for Survivors of Torture, a programme of Gulf Coast Jewish Family Services, Inc. Information from clients enrolled in the programme for six months or more was collated over a 14 month period in order to better prioritize and design services for the two distinct populations. On average, the Bosnians in this sample experienced torture approximately 14 years ago while the Colombians'experience was approximately six years ago. Types of torture experienced by clients are documented using HURIDOCS and the number of family and friends affected by extreme trauma are counted. Employment and education levels attained are also identified. Findings show that 100% of Bosnians are symptomatic for depression and over half possess symptoms of PTSD compared to 35% of Colombians for depression and 18% for PTSD, despite the differences in years since trauma occurred. High incidences of torture experienced by Bosnian clients and high numbers of family and friends affected support the high rates of symptoms. For the Colombian clients, high rates of employment and years of education, as well as earlier intervention, may contribute to their lower rates of symptoms. The two client groups are distinguished by the unique circumstances experienced by each, including punctuated wartime versus a prolonged insurgency, as well as the refugee versus asylum seeker experience. This exploratory project informs the torture treatment model while recognizing the importance of ethnic, political and cultural perspectives affecting the healing process.