*Post a description of the act of terrorism you selected (an act of terrorism that you read
about this week or have seen in the news).
*Describe three secondary effects that might have been experienced by survivors of the act
- Then, explain some of the major differences in interventions/responses for primary
survivors and secondary survivors of this act of terrorism.
Effects of Terrorism and Interventions for Survivors of Terrorism
Terrorism is an act that cannot be categorized under one header as it is a combination of
multiple actions like disasters, criminal assaults and acts of war (Miller, 2002). Therefore,
intervention on behalf of terrorism victims is also multifaceted since treating this kind of
occurrence is pretty new and the only way how is to combine the interventions for different
traumatic experiences. This paper looks at a recent terrorist attack and analyses some of the
secondary effects on the attack on survivors. Lastly, the paper analyses the differences in
approaches for primary and secondary survivors.
A car bomb exploded in Nigeria’s capital Abuja on May 1, 2014 killing 19 people. The
explosion occurred near the site where another bomb had exploded on April 14, 2014 killing at
least 75 people and injuring 141 others (Dockterman, 2014). The Nigerian terrorist group Boko
Haram claimed responsibility for the bomb. This extremist group is anti-west and claims that
western education is sinful. The group is pushing for the cessation of the largely Muslim north
from the Christian south. Rescuers were on hand to help the injured while hospital workers
tended to their injuries.
TERRORISM AND INTERVENTIONS FOR SURVIVORS 2
Victims of the terrorist acts experience varying effects as a direct result of the actions.
Psychological and behavioral changes have been manifested in a number of different ways.
Secondary effects include feelings of excessive grief, substance abuse, uncontrollable rage, bouts
of severe depression, and physical disorders that are stress related. Many victims with existing
mental conditions are likely to become more unstable with negative consequences. One of the
most prominent consequences of experiencing or witnessing a traumatic event is posttraumatic
stress disorder commonly referred to as PTSD. Those people who survived the car bomb in
Nigeria are most likely to have re-experiences of the occurrences. These flashbacks are bound to
be disturbing which leads to other complications in both the mental and physical health of the
victims if left untreated (Bleich et al, 2003). They are also most likely to experience nightmares
and fatigue. In most cases, victims of traumatic events have withdrawn from social interactions,
have been found to be easily irritated and are always anxious. They may also experience
instances where they forget the most obvious of details and are constantly absentminded.
Most interventions for having survived acts of terrorism or other traumatic events are
usually focused on primary victims. PTSD is the most common effect of surviving such an act.
Successful intervention for PTSD is possible only if the victims are identified early (Norris et al,
2002). Priority is given to those that were primary to the events including those who may have
suffered one form of physical trauma or another. Secondary survivors of acts of terrorism may be
many such that not all of them could be accessed for assistance. Primary survivors have the
advantage of being central to the events and thereby receive help on a mandatory basis. This
means that all of the primary survivors are likely to receive help compared to a small percent of
secondary survivors who may not even be screened for PTSD.
TERRORISM AND INTERVENTIONS FOR SURVIVORS 3
Primary victims are more likely to go through the prevention stage of intervention as
compared to secondary survivors. These may include the use of prescription medication to
alleviate symptoms of PTSD like anxiety and nightmares. They are also more likely to receive
psychological first aid which entails non-intrusive and compassionate interventions from other
people. On the contrary, secondary survivors may not receive as much attention since people
may not understand the gravity of their experiences since they may not harbor any noticeable
symptoms of the trauma. PTSD takes a long period of time to treat and to reconstruct the lives of
those affected (Alexander, 2005). Primary survivors are more likely to get continuous and
prolonged care compared to secondary survivors. The latter group may receive initial help but
this may not be sustained over the long term.
The terrorist act in Nigeria is a direct consequence of the country aligning itself with the
west something that radical Muslims disapprove. Some of the secondary effects of terrorism
include nightmares, substance abuse, violence and stress. Most of the symptoms experienced by
people who have been involved in a terrorist attack are like those of soldiers returning from war.
PTSD is the most common consequence of traumatic experiences which means that interventions
for people with PTSD can also be used for people involved in acts of terror.
TERRORISM AND INTERVENTIONS FOR SURVIVORS 4
Alexander, D. (2005, May 18). Psychological Aspects of Terrorism. Paper presented at: 14th
World Congress on Disaster and Emergency Medicine, Edinburgh, Scotland.
Bleich, A., Gelkopf, M. & Solomon, Z. (2003). Exposure to terrorism, stress-related mental
health symptoms, and coping behaviors among a nationally representative sample in
Israel. JAMA., 290(5), 612-620
Dockterman, E. (2014, May 1). Nigeria Blast Kills at Least 19 in Abuja. Time.