In addition to the post-publication activities for Living Beyond Terrorism: Israeli Stories of Hope and Healing I continue to be 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.
Traumatology article:Themes of Resilience and
Growth in Survivors of Politically Motivated Violence
Transforming Trauma: Space for Growth and Meaning-Making after Adversity article (pp. 3-6): Healing Trauma Survivors: Stories Lived, Told, Heard, Retold … and Untold
The International Forum for Logotherapy article: From Terror to Meaning and Healing – A Franklian View
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 the trauma being played out 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 have explored and written about 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. I also have supported several survivors in authoring and publishing their own memoirs. more...
Resilience: Navigating Challenges of Modern Life (Fielding Monograph Series, Volume 12) article: Resilience and Vulnerability in Aging Holocaust Survivors and Their Descendents
Never Erased in My Mind: My Life as a Child Survivor of the Minsk Ghetto, the Forest, and the Gulag, Esfir (Esther) Kaplan Lupyan (Translated by Miriam “Marina” Lupyan, Edited by Zieva Dauber Konvisser, 2019)
The Serpentine Roads of Life by Gita Zikherman-Greisdorf (2020)
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 (now METIV: The Israel Psychotrauma Center),
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 became 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: Healing Returning Veterans: The Role of Storytelling and Community
In 2006, I began to engage in an innovative research project that addresses two topics which previously had received little attention - the psychological consequences of wrongful conviction in the understudied population of freed and exonerated women 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. From these interviews and the roundtable discussions I have been privileged to organize at the annual Innocence Network Conferences as a space for women exonerees to speak out and be heard and to give voice to their emotion-laden experiences, I have explored their unique qualities as wrongfully convicted women; the creative and resourceful strategies that have helped them cope with their situations; the physical, emotional, social, and material challenges that they continue to face post-exoneration; and their ongoing needs to rebuild their shattered lives and productively reengage with life. The research findings have been published and I am in the process of compiling a book of real-life stories of injustice and justice, Wrongfully Convicted Women Speak Out – Hear Our Voices. more...
DePaul Journal for Social Justice article:
Psychological Consequences of Wrongful Conviction in Women and the Possibility of
Innocence Project in Print Interview (pp. 8-9) Q&A In Their Own Words: Dr. Zieva Dauber Konvisser
Texas A&M Law Review article: “What Happened to Me Can Happen to Anybody” – Women Exonerees Speak Out
Embodied Learning and Social Transformation article (Part 5): Transforming the Trauma of Wrongful Conviction
Journal of Contemporary Criminal Justice article: Exoneree Engagement in Policy Reform Work: An Exploratory Study of the Innocence Movement Policy Reform Process
Journal of Transformative Education article: Exonerated Women in the Innocence Movement
The Muses: Wrongful Conviction 2020/Innocence Network
Freed and Exonerated Women Speak Out 2022/Innocence Network
For most of my life, I have been researching and writing scientific, business, and academic papers, as well as writing rhyming poems to commemorate special occasions – in the style inherited from my family. In 2015, I began to participate in a memoir-writing workshop. Initially, I’d hoped to access the more creative side of my brain to write more lyrically. In the process, I have come to understand that there is a difference between facts and truth. These are the facts about me, what happened to me. However, my truth – the meaning I have made of my experiences – has evolved as has the rhythm of my life path journey of exploration and personal transformation that started as a random walk, then – looking back – became a career path, and is now my life path. Although it has forked, jogged and twisted – with each new opportunity I have built on and strengthened my skills and my persona – who I am – and what I may become.
The resulting flash memories and personal essays are my reflections on events, family, and friends along the way – written in the moment or looking back with the wisdom of age. A few have been published and all are a gift to my family and a legacy of both my past actions and my dreams of what I might still become – as I find my own music, my own voice.