A Survivor of Social Violence Speaks Out
“Six or seven people started beating me. I felt scared, overwhelmed… I couldn’t do anything,” said 21-year-old Jaime, a survivor of violence who sought medical care at Nejapa’s Health Clinic, where Glasswing implements the Sanando Heridas (Healing Wounds) program in partnership with USAID, the Inter-American Development Bank, and the Government of Japan. The program’s objective is to break the cycle of violence addressing victims with trauma from a holistic perspective.
Annually, 46% of medical cases registered in El Salvador’s national health system are due to social violence. Of these, 75% of victims are adolescent and young men, like Jaime. When Jaime came to the national hospital nurses and doctors trained in the methodology of the program helped him overcome his trauma. Trauma is any state or situation that goes beyond a person’s capacity to respond. Many victims of social violence come into hospitals after their experiences in shock, so it becomes difficult for them to follow simple orders that will help them heal physically. The Sanando Heridas program was developed in order to help victims heal holistically, both emotionally and physically.
The methodology involves training specialists in the health sector in trauma, training of hospital staff and health units in comprehensive trauma care, and the creation of a referral system at the community level. When the hospital receives a patient who has been a victim of trauma, the staff speak with the victim of violence and his or her family in order to make them feel that they are in a safe space and will be looked after during and after his or her hospital stay. This allows the patient to calm down and therefore have less resistance to the physical processes that must take place in order to make them better. Before the patient’s departure, one of the program specialists will help the patient by referring him or her to a support group.
“If I didn’t come here, I may have still been on the streets,” said Jaime. “But since I became part of the program, something in me changed. The nurses and doctors took care of me. And, after I was strong enough physically, they told me about a program at a school. I am currently working there. Next year, I want to go back to school to finish high-school and after I’d like to go to college.”