Indirect trauma to victims and surviving children

This Monday, one of the themes raised by lawyers for civil parties is the consequences of assaults on children. Survivors of the victims or survivors, despite themselves, including this trauma.

“They rot like rotten bananas. They killed my father.” These childish words belong to Etin *. His letter was read out before the Special Assistant Court of Appeals for the May 19, 13 attacks. Etienne never knew his father, Antoine, one of the 90 victims of the Bataclan.

Gary was three years old when his father was killed by terrorists entering the Matthew Theater. At 9 a.m., she “worries” when her mother goes out at night, as she said last October.

Bertrand’s children, teenagers and teenagers “always find an emergency exit when they reach a public place after their father survived a terrorist attack.”

Maxim *, about 6 years old, still sees a psychologist twice a week. On the evening of November 13, he did not lose his parents. However, in November 2015, the 11-month-old little boy developed post-traumatic stress, as his father, Guillaume, a survivor of Bataclan, said on May 17.

“Our child is a victim, Guillaume lamented while testifying. I accept the consequences of the attack for me, but the consequences of my son, whether it is his fault or mine, I cannot accept.”

Indirect victims

One of the topics discussed by civilian groups on Monday in this second week is the aftermath of the November 13 attack on children. The children of the victims, who had to learn to live without their parents who died under the bullets of the terrorists, but also the children of the survivors, many of whom created problems after the tragedy that hit their families.

“We’ve had this situation in almost every family,” explained Helena Christidis, a lawyer who will appeal to

The Ashes Court, set up specifically to try the November 13 attacks, accepted the lawyers’ request at the beginning of the trial and the children of the victims who wanted to be able to form a civic group in this trial. The victims’ children, survivors and those who were in their mother’s womb at the time of the attack are now considered indirect victims.

“There are some who were not present but who felt the pain of loved ones, says Mr. Christidis. For the little ones, we told ourselves they would be fine, they didn’t understand what was happening. See “.

“A mother explained to me that she was worried when her son was born. She cried, for example, when she heard some words,” she recalls.

A multifaceted phenomenon

Experts know this phenomenon of transmission of post-traumatic symptoms called “secondary” in the case of infection by relatives. “Some children may develop depressive, anxious symptoms, emotional distress and even a boundary personality or post-traumatic stress,” explains Bereng Guillery, a neuroscientist and lecturer at the োলcole Pratic des Hautes Itudes.

“These symptoms are not specific to trauma but may result in the behavior of a particular parent following trauma,” he explained.

These changes in inter-family relationships can be a child’s adaptation, “a tackle,” the researchers continue. The scientist emphasizes: “The history of trauma is complex and multifaceted. To understand this, it is necessary to connect the history of the previous generation, especially the parents, the psychological profile of the parents and the mental state of the child.”

Bérengère Guillery points out that the factors to consider include “Psychological factors related to parenting (does she have depression? Anxiety disorder? Post-traumatic stress?) But also the style of attachment or emotional attachment. Parental style, communication style about traumatic events, From complete silence to contrast with the underlying communication of parental experience, a style of ‘modulated disclosure’ that will be characterized by communication adapted to the child’s emotional-affective developmental level, emotional needs, and cognitive abilities. There are reasons. “

Examples of the Holocaust

This infection of post-traumatic symptoms can affect children of any age, even those who were in their mother’s womb at the time of the traumatic event. But these infections are not automatic and, above all, do not lead to the development of pathologies. Calling on “parents not to be stigmatized by the trauma they have already suffered,” Bering Guillery recalls that not all children affected by the trauma show emotional fragility and some may not be able to cope with the situation. Developed “a very positive resilience”.

Still, Mr. Cristidis wonders about the future. “The whole question is what happens next. Will this trauma be passed on to future generations?” We are talking about “intergenerational transmission” when it concerns the first generation of offspring and the transgender transmission for generations to come, “said Beringer Guillery. In 2015, in a study published in the Journal of Biological Psychiatry, American researchers examined the thesis of “epigenetic heredity” that traumas experienced by Holocaust survivors left a biological mark, a mark on next-generation DNA, and especially on cortisol levels.

“Trauma infections also include epigenetic markers. Epigenetics refers to a set of potential hereditary factors that may alter the expression of the genome or ‘epigenome’ that may be induced by the environment,” the neuropsychologist concluded.

* Name has been changed

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