Therapeutic Work With Victims of Sexual Violence in War and Postwar: A Discourse Analysis of Bosnian Experiences


Skjelsbæk, Inger. 2006. “Therapeutic Work With Victims of Sexual Violence in War and Postwar: A Discourse Analysis of Bosnian Experiences.” Peace and Conflict: Journal of Peace Psychology 12 (2): 93–118.

Author: Inger Skjelsbæk


This article presents a discourse analysis of 23 interviews with local Bosnian health workers at 2 different psychosocial centers. The main premise for the study is based on the acknowledgment that many victims of war rape will choose to remain silent about their ordeals, and studies of this particular war phenomenon must therefore be based, in part, on other local voices in the field. The main focus is on the ways in which the health workers describe their work with victims of sexual violence in the Bosnian war and postwar settings. Through their descriptions we gain unique insight into how the issue of war rape was addressed and dealt with at a local level. Further, on a general level, the study shows that the impact of sexual violence in war varies according to context, an insight that has implications not only for our general understanding of the phenomenon, but also in the use of particular therapy methods. These therapy methods must balance between the assumptions that there are universal effects of sexual violence that cut across various contexts and cultural relativism that assumes the opposite.

Topics: Armed Conflict, Health, Mental Health, Trauma, Humanitarian Assistance, Context-Appropriate Response to Trauma, Post-Conflict, Sexual Violence, Rape Regions: Europe, Balkans, Eastern Europe Countries: Bosnia & Herzegovina

Year: 2006

© 2024 CONSORTIUM ON GENDER, SECURITY & HUMAN RIGHTSLEGAL STATEMENT All photographs used on this site, and any materials posted on it, are the property of their respective owners, and are used by permission. Photographs: The images used on the site may not be downloaded, used, or reproduced in any way without the permission of the owner of the image. Materials: Visitors to the site are welcome to peruse the materials posted for their own research or for educational purposes. These materials, whether the property of the Consortium or of another, may only be reproduced with the permission of the owner of the material. This website contains copyrighted materials. The Consortium believes that any use of copyrighted material on this site is both permissive and in accordance with the Fair Use doctrine of 17 U.S.C. § 107. If, however, you believe that your intellectual property rights have been violated, please contact the Consortium at