Refugees experience all kinds of trauma prior to, during, and after their journeys to safety. Many have survived bombings, air raids, village burnings, murders and massacres, kidnappings, starvation, beatings, and/or sexual violence. They have carried myriad anxieties that come from losing family, material belongings and security, identity, language, home, culture, routine, dignity, and control of their future. Mental exhaustion, confusion, chaos, and long stretches of fear and anger can sometimes only be unpacked when they arrive in a place of safety, at which time, the accumulated load of trauma can manifest itself in acute mental and/or physical illness. It is not uncommon for symptoms of PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) to manifest in even the very young.
Our team members obtain informed consent from each individual before an interview takes place. Consent forms are translated and explained in the individual’s primary language. Individuals dictate where their stories may be shared and what personal information they wish to keep private. In situations where the individual is at risk and/or wishes to remain anonymous, alias names are used and other identifying information is removed from interviews immediately after they are received by TSOS. We have also committed not to use refugee images or stories for fundraising purposes without explicit permission. Our top priority is to protect and honor the wishes of our interview subjects.