Complex PTSD and intergenerational transmission of distress and resilience among Tutsi genocide survivors and their offspring: A preliminary report

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aThe Interdisciplinary Department of Social Sciences, Bar-Ilan University, Israel

bHamilton, Ontario, Canada

Received 12 October 2018, Revised 18 November 2018, Accepted 18 November 2018, Available online 19 November 2018.


• The sample included Tutsi genocide survivors and their offspring.

• Parental PTSD and CPTSD were related to offspring secondary traumatization.

• Parental CPTSD was related to lower resilience among both survivors and offspring.


The research on survivors of genocide has focused on PTSD, but complex PTSD (CPTSD) and its potential effect on intergenerational transmission are understudied. This study assessed complex PTSD and resilience among Tutsi genocide survivors (n = 60, mean age = 52.27 [SD = 6.27]) and their offspring (n = 60, mean age = 21.21 [SD = 1.78]). Offspring of parents suffering from PTSD or CPTSD reported more secondary traumatization symptoms relative to offspring of parents without PTSD (p < 0.0001). Moreover, parental CPTSD was related to lower resilience among both survivors and offspring (p < 0.0001). The current findings suggest that parental CPTSD may have broader influences manifested in offspring lower resilience.

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About S. R. Zelenz 119 Articles
S.R. Zelenz has worked in education for 20 years. Working with students from all walks of life, cultures, races, and social diversity, Zelenz’s research in Educational Leadership led to finding a better way to approach learning for students with trauma histories. Many were juvenile offenders, gang members, diagnosed with varying behavioral disorders, or had family histories of violence, murder, or narcissistic parenting. This research could not be effectively accomplished without further understanding: how epigenetic trauma inheritance may be impacting these students; how brain development from trauma may be impacting their behavioral and emotional development; as well as deep understanding of psychology and its varying classifications for behavioral and personality disorders. The goal is to find solutions for changing the conversation and making a real difference for these students. She has also worked with nonprofits of varying focus areas for the last 25 years. Her undergraduate degree in Arts Administration and Music prepared her for managing nonprofits of any size as well as procuring funding so that they can achieve their goals. Pairing her nonprofit background with her education background, she has been able to make a difference for over 200 nonprofits worldwide, written curriculum for schools across the globe, and assisted many arts organizations through performance and management.