In addition to the post-publication activities for Living Beyond Terrorism: Israeli Stories of Hope and Healing I am involved in several other projects, all in different stages, related to my ongoing commitment to make a positive difference in people’s lives and the communities in which they live and work. As a trauma researcher, and an oral historian, I work with survivors of terror, genocide, combat, and wrongful conviction and view these traumatic events through a perspective of resilience or recovery – bouncing back after experiencing hardship and adversity and moving on with life as before - and posttraumatic growth - the ability to bounce forward and experience positive psychological change as a result of the struggle with highly challenging life circumstances. Typically such growth can coexist with continuing personal distress and survivors can learn to live next to and move forward with their feelings of grief, pain, and helplessness. To enable this personal transformation, I am passionate about engaging these trauma survivors in conversation, listening empathically, and documenting and giving voice to their “stories” – their oral histories or testimonies - as a way to humanize the people whose lives have been destroyed, to help them heal, as a gift to them and their families, and as a legacy for others to remember and learn from their experiences. It is my personal path to social innovation and change, building public awareness of the impact of injustices, providing the empirical evidence necessary to correct corrupt systems and processes, and promoting social and criminal justice advocacy and reform. more...
While Living Beyond Terrorism presents the voices of those who live with and beyond terrorism, the findings from my research are documented in both my PhD dissertation – "Finding Meaning and Growth in the Aftermath of Suffering: Israeli Civilian Survivors of Suicide Bombings and Other Attacks" (Fielding Graduate University, 2006, available at ProQuest/UMI dissertations/theses, publication number 3234197) – and in peer-reviewed journal articles.
My interest in understanding survivors – their voices, their faces, and their passions – began
years ago as I heard the extraordinary stories of Holocaust survivors, in particular those few
members of my family who survived.
My interest was further strengthened in the summer of 1995 when I participated in the Turning Point
’95 International Leadership Intensive held at Auschwitz-Birkenau
on the 50th anniversary of the
liberation of the extermination and labor camps. Touring the camps with three survivors –
two Jews and a communist resistance fighter – offered me a personal and concrete dimension to a
tragedy that is still difficult to comprehend. I noted that many of these people – survivors,
resisters, and rescuers – shared their extraordinary stories in the hope of creating meaning from
their experiences and making a positive difference in the world. As a second-generation witness,
I deeply sensed and identified with their horror and pain. At the same time, I felt the hopes of
those who had not only suffered such horrendous events, but who had thrived in spite of them. I
came away with an important question: How can we learn from our experiences to prevent genocide?
A trip to Israel in October 2002, at the height of the Second Intifada (Palestinian Uprising), helped me connect what I had learned about Holocaust survivors to what was happening now in Israel, Palestine, and the Middle East. As I talked to family, friends, and new acquaintances and listened to government officials, tour guides, doctors, therapists, and terror survivors, once again I observed the strength of the human spirit to cope with tragedy and uncertainty. In addition, a new question began to take shape: How can we move beyond the trauma of such an event? To answer these questions, I knew that I had to listen more and understand the stories of these survivors of terror, as well as the stories of the survivors of the Holocaust.
In 2011, my journey brought me back full circle when I volunteered to interview Holocaust survivors and document their oral histories for the archives of the Holocaust Memorial Center Zekelman Family Campus in Farmington Hills, Michigan. Their stories can be found by clicking on the individual oral history links here. In addition, I am exploring what we know about trauma, transmission, and aging in Holocaust survivors and descendants and what we can learn from their stories and their sources of strength to cope with the tragedy and uncertainty and to survive the long-term impacts of extreme prolonged trauma. more...
In 2003, when I was working on my research with survivors of terrorism in Israel, I was introduced
to the Israel Center for Psychotrauma (ICTP) of Herzog Hospital in Jerusalem, a world-renowned
innovator in the research and treatment of the wide-ranging effects of psychotrauma and in proactively
building resilience in traumatized populations.
Later, as a member of the international board of the ICTP, I became involved with their
Peace of Mind
intervention for discharged combat soldiers and its focus on mental health and normalization of
responses, as well as on the processing of traumatic experiences and reintegration into civilian life.
Peace of Mind gives the veterans the tools to mitigate the impact of the psychological trauma
experienced during battle. Enabling the veterans to share these experiences and feelings helps
prevent future mental distress.
In addition, through the Fielding Graduate University Veterans Connection, I am involved in helping to build awareness and promoting the coordination of programs and resources addressing interventions for returning soldiers and their transitions to civilian life in the U.S. and abroad – especially those focusing on resilience-building, storytelling, and personal transformation. more...
Veteran and Family Reintegration: Identity, Healing, and Reconciliation (Fielding Monograph Series) (Volume 8) article
My current innovative research project addresses two topics which previously have received little attention - the psychological consequences of wrongful conviction in the understudied population of women exonerees and the possibility of positive change concurrent with the lasting effects of their traumatization. A full review of the analysis of female wrongful convictions in the U.S. and the literature on the implications and impact of wrongful conviction on the innocent individuals themselves are available in my comprehensive article in the spring 2012 issue of the DePaul Journal for Social Justice. Furthermore, I have interviewed 21 women who have been wrongfully convicted, often incarcerated, and later exonerated, to listen to their voices and understand how they experience a serious trauma in their lives, including: what is the human impact and response; how do they comprehend the event and understand its significance in life following the event; how do they feel and think and act before, during, and after struggling with the horrific experience; and are there unique qualities held by women exonerees, specific issues and needs, and strategies that have helped them cope with their situations? Although the research findings will be published, it is premature to know whether or not it will turn into another book of real-life stories of injustice and justice. more...
DePaul Journal for Social Justice article
Innocence Project in Print Interview (pp. 8-9)
Texas A&M Law Review article
Embodied Learning and Social Transformation article (Part 5)
Journal of Contemporary Criminal Justice article