“Routine trauma”—Awareness of combat trauma in women combatants.

Shir Daphna-Tekoah, Ayelet Harel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Objective: The current research aims to explore the nature of trauma experienced by female combatants. Method: Data were collected from two focus groups and a series of personal interviews with 100 women military veterans who had served in the Israel Defense Forces as combat or combat-support soldiers. Results: Interviews with these veterans revealed a variety of narratives about their war experiences, including an intertwining of the emotional and the physical. The ongoing danger and traumatic events that the combatants and combat-support soldiers faced on a daily basis were woven into their stories. These narratives indicated that—alongside their exposure to traumatic and potentially life-threatening situations—the soldiers also felt empowered and valued as a result of their military service. The women soldiers’ perspectives regarding their military service covered three main themes, “experiencing trauma,” “meaningful combat experiences,” and “the need to be heard.” Conclusions: Through qualitative research and narrative analysis, this study offers mental health professionals, policy makers, and scholars ways to gain a nuanced insight into women’s combat trauma that avoids categorization. Based on the research findings, we suggest that additional aspects of trauma can be understood through the study of women soldiers, who face a “double battle”—combat, with the attendant trauma, and the gendered biases of the masculine military environment. Our findings suggest that there is value in engaging with and listening to diverse narratives of trauma and emphasize the need for a critical perspective in the study of trauma and combat trauma. (PsycInfo Database Record (c) 2023 APA, all rights reserved) The research sought to listen attentively to narratives of women combatants and combat-support soldiers with the aim to find the most appropriate means to make their voices heard and to reveal their military experience, including their trauma as well as their strengths and capabilities. Examining the military experience as a whole, and not merely the traumatic events, may assist mental health professionals to deepen the understanding of the experiences of women in the military and to create a more equitable military environment. Consequently, the research provides data to inform policy decisions and to help create effective support programs for veterans.

Original languageAmerican English
JournalPsychological Trauma: Theory, Research, Practice, and Policy
DOIs
StateAccepted/In press - 1 Jan 2023

Keywords

  • combat trauma
  • military
  • trauma
  • war
  • women combatants

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Social Psychology
  • Clinical Psychology

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