BACKGROUND There is now a substantial literature dealing with the consequences of repressive violence on individuals and families (1). The literature details the effects, on individuals, of torture and violent injury, as well as the effects of exposure to violent situations, and also deals with both the short-term and long-term effects. The likelihood of disturbance and ill-health will increase with the presence of physical torture: studies show that Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder(PTSD) increases as a function of exposure to physical torture. These survivors will frequently have both physical and psychological sequelae as a consequence of their torture. This literature also details the effects on persons who were either directly injured during military actions, or who witnessed violence during military actions, or who lived in areas where there were frequent military actions. Studies show that the likelihood of PTSD rises with the degree of exposure to what is termed "high war zone stress". There is also a growing literature about the effects upon the family of violence and torture inflicted on a family member. Here the literature dealing with the Holocaust is probably the most developed. There is also a new group of victims, the families of person who have been "disappeared", and this literature demonstrates both short-term and long-term consequences (2,3). This group should also include persons and families who have had the experience of a family member disappearing during military actions. These may or may not be families in which there is a history of political activism, but all are classified together in terms of the families' experience: all have had a member disappear during times of war. Studies of this population show a wide range of effects, ranging from higher mortality rates in the fathers of the disappeared to psychological disorders in the second-generation children. Finally, we must consider the effects upon the caregivers themselves, a group who are also receiving increasin attention. Contemporary studies have clearly shown the effects on care-givers of working with survivors of repressive violence (4,5).

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