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Attacking what I am Psychological effects of hate crime – individual experience or community effect? Inta Dzelme, Ph. D.

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Presentation on theme: "Attacking what I am Psychological effects of hate crime – individual experience or community effect? Inta Dzelme, Ph. D."— Presentation transcript:

1 Attacking what I am Psychological effects of hate crime – individual experience or community effect? Inta Dzelme, Ph. D.

2 hate crime As stated on the Latvian Centre for Human Rights Hate Crime Incident Report Form, “being a victim of this kind of crime can be a particularly frightening experience as you have been victimized because of who you are, or who or what your attackers think you are.”

3 hate crime Perry (2001) states that hate crime intent is to subordinate and intimidate not only the victim but also the entire community of which they are part of, by sending a message that they are ‘different’ and they ‘don’t belong.’ It is implicated not merely in the relationship between the direct ‘participants’, but also in the relationship between the different communities to which they belong. The damage involved goes far beyond physical or financial damages. It reaches into the community to create fear, hostility, and suspicion.

4 the study This study touches upon three internally and externally diverse groups of people in Latvia, victimized by hate crimes: Visible minorities, currently residing in Latvia; People singled out for their sexual orientation—bisexuals, gays and lesbians (BGL); Roma in Latvia.

5 flaws of the study Small sample of participants- only few are willing to report, disclose, discuss…  Several of previously identified possible respondents had left the country The level of vulnerability involved in the in-depth interviews– request to disclose one’s personal experiences Language—for several participants English or Latvian were not their native languages. Because of this, at times the nuances of the feelings and thoughts cannot be full perceived.

6 “nothing personal…” "They weren't waiting for me, just for someone."Accurate statistics on hate crimes -- those motivated by racial, religious, ethnic, sexual and other prejudices -- do not exist. In literature it is noted that not a sufficient numberof studies address psychological effects of hate crime on its victims.

7 you shouldn’t be here What are you doing in my country?!
I live here! I have family. Why … probably I am messing with his women?! And then I asked him, if he has job, if he has family? He said—ya. He is student, he is 26 years old. He has a family. I do not remember if he has a child. And I asked him “Why are you doing what you’re doing?” And he said” You know, because you are in my country! I don’t like that!” And I said—am I a bad person? He said—“ No, you are NOT a bad person, but you shouldn’t be here!”

8 damaging effects on victims
A sense of anger is one of the common responses to being the victim of a hate crime, but so is a deep sense of personal hurt and betrayal. Victims experience feelings of powerlessness, isolation, sadness and suspicion. Fear is another pervasive victim response. Victims fear for their own safety and for their family's safety. Most report changes in their lifestyle such as where they walk, how they answer the phone, reactions to strangers, suspicion of co-workers, and other such changes. Fear can take on paranoid qualities and drastically disrupt the lives of some victims. One of the most common reactions is a sense of injustice, and a corresponding loss of faith in law enforcement and the whole criminal justice system, which is often felt to be insensitive and disinterested.

9 establishing trust In-depth interviews, semi- structured
Sharing my own very personal experiences Non- institutional settings (coffee shops, public places, apartments)

10 vulnerability I think… just one thing! I do not know for women… but for a men—to talk about this… it is humiliation… I mean—no man feels comfortable talking about that someone hits you on the head… it is really embarrassing… even to talk to another member of the organization… it is really something humiliating to talk about… I

11 physical attacks I know people who have been attacked very very badly.
…before I had direct incident, I think it was not that difficult…

12 physical attacks I was by myself. And it is always that-- when I am with someone—nothing happens, but when I am by myself, I am confronted by these people. I never had a problem with it… until… you get… attacked… This is naturally what you want to do--- make sure you are protected, you make sure you react on time I wasn’t on the watch out. That's why they came to me.

13 always on alert Of course, youreyes become sharper! Clearer. You make sure that you look ALLL around you…

14 public disclosures Physical abuses happen more then they are reported to police, often they are shared just with the closest people. It actually happens more often, people do not know what to do, it is what they report to me. I mean—real physical attack—in this year I know three.

15 When it really gets physical… I think that this trauma probably remains. I can imagine those victims…going again to those places. It’s really a problem – because you can say, especially to children: Don’t go out in the dark, Don’t go there, Don’t go there. But when it happens in front of your house…

16 racial slurs The fact is that it is part of common life
People encounter a lot of verbal abuses… For me personally—I think I encounter at least once a week. If it is not spoken, then it in some other way—by a gesture, or a look, or something. I think there is a lot of non- verbal communication here in Latvia, a lot more then verbal.

17 resentment It is harder to be here now, then before.
For me—those years ago—I wouldn’t be surprised to hear all this, I remember very well. So the images that I see, whether or not people of Latvia will accept those images, is pretty much 1960’s 1970’s United States- segregations. Racially motivated attacks have basically no real reason, no excuse in Latvia.

18 psychological impact I am no longer naïve
I am less naïve about life, and less naïve about future… And I mentioned several times: I miss my naivety! … Psychologically… I have become… a bit paranoid… about strangers around me I refuse to let people close to me… they have to prove to me that they mean me no harm

19 physical symptoms: constriction and stress
Physically… look at me! Look at me! I work out hard!I am preparing myself…for… combat! I … have not hurt a person, and I hope I will never do, but I am aware about… what these people can do! I have seen… I was much lighter. But now I feel like I have a weight on my shoulders… I can’t relax! I can’t… I can’t breathe!

20 emotions- a vicious cycle
Emotionally I have become less tolerant—I have not become insensitive, but I have become less tolerant… of… everyday… let’s say—stupid acts that people do! And I am not talking about racism, I am just talking about the normal things—impatience in … those things that really happen… I feel how impatient these people are…

21 impact I felt very strange… suddenly you feelVERYunsafe… that is one side of it and also you feel that living in such society that can be so judgmental… that they will make their job, their profession, their aim – to look at someone and beat up, because it is not fitting to their comfort description of what people should look like…

22 my fear is—it does not end there!
The people who can say this kind of things can be very aggressive Yea, this is trauma… and my biggest fear is that … if people would think-- there are not really many people, just a few attacks, it is just an exaggeration of situation, they would say—yea, yea, it’s just two attacks.. but do you realize—what’s in the mind of those people—if it is just one person a year… it affects his whole life!

23 concern for children I think it is really a big trauma for children. .
I was together with my kids and someone calling one of them monkey... and saying them to go home… Actually they are born here, they are Latvians and have Latvian passport. And to be told to go home—it’s really like a big trauma for them

24 worries about children
The thing that comes to my mind is… will they be safe where they need to go? We keep restricting our children: they can not go there, they can not do this, can not do that… I want them to have freedom! Of course, things might change! But the way it is now, when we have children who have been attacked!!! It does not sound really very optimistic!

25 because of the children
That’s why I think may be they don’t like us! Everybody! They don’t like us! And … I am living here only… only that’s why I have child here! Only! I don’t like live here, in this country! I don’t like!

26 children As for me.. I know how to take care of myself! I am happy that I have some kind of muscle, and people are afraid to hit me on the streets, but him… The most I worry about is… his future in general… If anyone ever tries to do this to my daughter… so God help them, period! Anyone who touches my children—it is very dangerous! With me—it’s no problem, but my child! It’s the lastday for them! I don’t care for them, anyone, who would touch my child! No! And—I am not afraid!

27 disdain If you do it to me—I am an adult! I have to respond in one way or another! But if you do it to a child or in a child’s presence—there is no excuse! And that is what I mean with developing… a high level of insensitivity towards people in this country!

28 places of security You know, it is always this contrast! You feel how insecure you are—just moving out of this your comfort zone! I am rarely finding myself in situations that I do not have this community support! That is easier.

29 personal consequences
… I am tired… tired of running… The fear—I was really scared! Even to go out, on a street, then… Restricting who I am… How can I change THAT?

30 no one seemed to care… When others seemed not to care, the effects on victims were intensified. Such a perceived lack of concern, whether from neighbors, strangers, officials, or whomever, add to the sense of isolation. Somehow, when others do care, the trauma is softened. When others seemed not to care, victims experience the incidents as portentous, calling into question their entire outlook on the world.

31 the people around In that bus stop.
I am waiting there, and sitting on this bench. And three young people: “What are you doing?” And they are looking and asking “Why?... Why you are here?” And while they are looking at me?” I am saying—“I am sorry, I am not looking, I am waiting for my child. They are coming, after five or six minutes.” But they are asking: “Why you are here?” And they start beating me. And they start beat me, and after that… I fell down, yea? And I… I don’t remember that time… what happened, yea? After that, I want to stand up, but I can’t. I have… like, it is dark inside. And my mind is only thinking: “My child is coming now, after two or three minutes at that time, yea. And I want to stand up, but I can’t. Three times. And people, people, they are standing, yea…. But no one helping. No one helping. Not one.. yea.

32 the people around The other thing that bothers me in that situation and in other situation that I’ve mentioned and that I haven’t mentioned—is that the of people around me… because my opinion about racism in Latvia—I do not judge the 3% of people that are actively perpetrating, but I judge the 97%, because I feel that they are the greater problem. The silence is the greatest problem. Their lack of… not only of involvement, but their lack of conversation… in this society. I think that is a greatest crime then the actual acts of racism… There are always people out who do not see that there is a problem. There are always eye- witnesses who do not say “No, this is wrong!” People are just very passive about this kind of things.

33 consequences to society
It is creating so much fear! And negativity in people, they think there are things they cannot do! The consequences are: It really makes you to see your life differently, it makes you ask a lot of questions. And makes you less confident. Not feeling free, yes.

34 leaving Latvia From now on I won’t be in Latvia…
Yes, of course, there are also economic issues—she doesn’t think she can get enough money here, and she needs to take care of her kid… Every time I leave Latvia—I do not want to come back… I mean is not the way to lead their life, they want to be free, to do what they want to do.

35 hopes for better I just wanted to break up this barrier! This is how it expands! I mean I really hope that the things will change! Positive experiences with police: he told me the police were quite friendly, and they took down everything that he told them. And they said they will investigate…

36 hopes for better Role of the NGO’s
Educating about possibilities for help and support, and also—what could be gained from talking to a professional, having a “witness”, telling one’sstory It is NOT about healing them or hearing them … you know, people are always very careful about this kind of things… It is about ”Let’s look how we can cooperate!” Sort off: “Let us exchange information, and see how we can help, or…”

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