Effects on Individuals Today

Individuals involved in the troubles were impacted in a variety of ways: physically, mentally, emotionally and psychologically. Survivors may suffer from psychological disorders such as Perpetration-induced Stress Disorder or Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. Children involved may be impacted differently due to their developmental nature at the time of the troubles.

Since the troubles many organizations and positions have been created to assist these victims in their healing process. Organizations specific to the troubles include Corrymeela, Healing through Remembering, the Pat Finucane Centre, Victim Support Northern Ireland, Coiste and the Alliance Support Group. Also, the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission has added three bodies specifically to address the millions of remaining individuals impacted by the troubles. Victims can even seek help internationally through an organization that addresses issues similar to those in Ireland, but not specific to the Troubles in the United States at the Stanford Center on International Conflict and Negotiation (SCICN).

Additionally, museums and organizations seeking to remember the historical aspects of Northern Ireland have been created. One major museum is the Free Derry Museum which was built to display and archive the history of Derry's involvement in the troubles. This museum allows reflection for the individuals involved and a historical reference for generations to come.

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Corrymeela is a non-profit Christian organization in Belfast, Northern Ireland that coordinates social, religious and political programs designed to promote peace and reconciliation through tolerance. It is a residential community that seeks to create a “safe space” in which individuals may feel free to share their stories, make connections of life to their faith, ask questions, learn and accept. Their goal is “to establish over time a shared society defined by tolerance: a normal civil society in which all individuals are considered as equal, where differences are resolved through dialogue in the public sphere and where all individuals are treated impartially. A society where there is equity, respect for diversity and a recognition of interdependence.”3

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Healing through Remembering is a cross-community project seeking to address how to handle the legacy of the conflict. It is rooted from the Victim Support Northern Ireland (VSNI) and Northern Ireland Association for the Care and Resettlement of Offenders (NIACRO) and has since a membership organization that proposed a written report to the British and Irish Governments including six recommendations: Network of Commemoration and Remembering Project, Day of Reflection, Collective Storytelling and Archiving Process, Permanent Living Memorial Museum, Acknowledgment and Healing Through Remembering Initiative.5

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The Pat Finucane Centre is a political human rights group advocating non-violent resolution of the conflict. Its members feel that all involved in the conflict have violated human rights which have not been properly protected under the law, resulting in violent conflict. Their goal is that the law be implemented entirely to better prevent violence in the future.7

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Victim Support Northern Ireland is a free, confidential service to the people of Northern Ireland that provides assistance to those affected by crime. This would perhaps be the most relevant source of help for individuals seeking assistance with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and Perpetration-Induced Traumatic Stress (PITS) related to the troubles. PTSD is an anxiety disorder that may result when one has been involved in a traumatic event that caused or threatened physical or emotional harm such as a shooting, act of violence, or death. PITS is similar to PTSD, but differs in the sense that rather than being the victim, as is the case with PTSD, PITS is the less established term for the psychological effects on the perpetrator of the crime. Many traumatic incidents occurred throughout the Troubles and individuals involved may not feel comfortable joining a public organization to express their feelings towards their involvement. PTSD and PITS may result in flashbacks toward the traumatic event, persistence in avoiding situations similar to the event, difficulties sleeping, concentrating and inability to function in daily life. Many individuals we met with discussed the effects they will have because of the events during the Troubles. Most people are dealing with their issues in healthy ways such as joining organizations or having therapy. Organizations and other people involved are trying to help those who are not dealing with the effects in a healthy way. Alcoholism and violence is a problem in those who have these disorders as a result from the Troubles. Another possible effect of situations and disorders such as these is psychological numbing, in which victims or perpetrators trigger this self-defense mechanism that blocks psychologically difficult situations, emotions and ideas from memory. Suffers of these or any disorders or related or unrelated to the Troubles can seek psychological treatment to cope with those symptoms through the Victim Support Northern Ireland.9

Another organization encountered in our travels to Northern Ireland was Alternatives. Alternatives seeks to offer means of conflict resolution that are alternative to violence. We were told that as a result of the Troubles in Northern Ireland individuals would solve personal problems by means of retaliation in a violent manner towards the individuals who caused the problem. People would retaliate in this manner due to the mistrust they had towards public institutions such as police forces and judicial systems. Offering assistance to problem solving, Alternatives offers individuals a place that they can trust and assistance in solving their problems in a productive, less violent manner. Alternatives also educates youth about future possibilities such as college or trade schools. Many youth in Belfast have only known violence, and are already headed down the wrong path at a young age. Alternatives helps these troubled youth to change their path.10

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