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Male Survivors of Urban Violence and Trauma: A Qualitative Analysis of Jail Detainees

NCJ Number
Jessica Reichert; Dawn Ruzich; Michael Osher
Date Published
December 2015
44 pages
Based on in-depth interviews with six men receiving substance abuse treatment while in custody at Cook County jail (Illinois), this study documented self-reported characteristics, experiences, and backgrounds of male survivors of urban violence.
The interviews focused on the men's life stories, traumas they experienced, and their coping mechanisms. Overall, the study showed that these men were adversely affected by their experiences in their homes and neighborhoods. All of the men displayed symptoms of mental health issues, trauma histories, and/or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). All men said the neighborhoods in which they grew up were dangerous, with crime and gunfire being common. All had been shot at and physically assaulted. Most had been robbed at gunpoint and stabbed and witnessed someone's murder or someone being seriously injured. Three had experienced the sudden loss of a family member who was murdered, and all had thought at least once that they would be killed or seriously injured. By age five, three had already experienced a traumatic event. Domestic disruption and violence were common; as children, three saw their fathers physically abuse their mothers, and all were either separated from or abandoned by a parent. Half were sexually abused or experienced unwanted sexual contact, and half had periods of homelessness. Implications drawn for corrections policy and practices are to offer treatment to male trauma survivors, increase awareness of male survivors of urban trauma, and conduct more research on trauma experienced by those living in disadvantaged urban neighborhoods. 1 table, 50 references, and appended interview questions and tools for measuring mental health and PTSD