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Keywords:

  • genocide;
  • posttraumatic stress disorder;
  • coping;
  • massive trauma;
  • Armenia

Abstract

This study explored the experiences of the survivors of the Ottoman-Turkish Genocide of the Armenians (1915–1923). Coping strategies, communication patterns and the impact of continuing Turkish denial of the events were the specific research areas. Semi-structured interviews were administered to 40 Genocide survivors, residing at two Armenian homes for older adults in the mid-Atlantic United States. Destruction of life, physical harm, deportation, pillaging, and loss of status were identified by respondents as stressors experienced. Religion, family, work, denial, and resignation were identified as coping methods and sources of survival. Most respondents had not discussed their experiences with others. When asked about their reactions to the Turkish denial, respondents expressed a range of negative affect, including resentment, hatred, and rage. When asked about sources of pride in their lives, respondents cited accomplishments such as surviving the Genocide, surviving as Armenians and procreating. The social, developmental, and psychiatric implications of the findings were discussed.