Trauma, self protection and desistance: the case of terrorism and political violence

Dr Orla Lynch1

1University College Cork, Cork, Ireland
2Hedayah, Abu Dhabi, Abu Dhabi

While a considerable amount of research has been conducted on community-based initiatives aimed at preventing violence, including the role of the ex-political prisoner community in preventative and counterterrorism work, little is known about how the ex-prisoners themselves manage their identity transition between the role they occupied during the conflict and their current role in violence prevention. This paper will argue that it is important to consider the perspective of ex-prisoners who are both architects of their own process of desistance from political violence, as well active leaders of bespoke desistance programs. While many researchers have recognized the utility of the role of ex-prisoners in violence prevention work, theoretically, the way in which ex-prisoners do violence prevention through their use of language and intergroup contact and other resources, is poorly understood. Ultimately, the aim of the presentation is to understand the resources  that the community of ex-political prisoners use in desistance (2) to understand how this community understand their role in desistance programs in the context of their personal involvement in violent conflict, including the ways in which participants manage their identity transition and (3) to consider how issues of trauma are relevant for the process.


Dr Orla Lynch is currently a Senior Lecturer in Criminology and Asc. Dean of Graduates Studies at University College Cork, Ireland. Until 2015 she was Director of Teaching and a Lecturer in Terrorism Studies at CSTPV at the University of St Andrews. Orla’s background is in International Security Studies and Applied Psychology; her primary training is as a social psychologist. Orla is a fellow with Hedayah, Abu Dhabi and a Board member of RAN, Europe. Her recent books include Applying Psychology: The Case of Terrorism and Political Violence. (Blackwell with Carmel Joyce)


Aug 30 2021


8:00 am - 6:00 pm