Newsportal - Ruhr-Universität Bochum
“This is hard to bear”
Beray Macit has close ties with Turkey. The licensed behavioural therapist is pursuing her PhD about exposure therapy at the chair of Clinical Psychology and Psychotherapy at Ruhr University Bochum. As an anxiety researcher and psychotherapist, she is aware of the long-term mental strain of such traumatic events and knows about counselling services – including those available to people here on campus.
Beray Macit, how are you personally experiencing the situation right now?
It’s a tragedy. I can’t put it into words, I am speechless. It hurts my heart. I’m lucky that my contacts in Turkey are fine. A friend of mine lost his entire extended family. When I’m asked, I’m almost ashamed to say that my relatives are fine. Because the relatives of others are not fine at all, they have died or are still missing.
I also catch myself being distracted and unfocused all the time. And I keep watching the photos and videos from the earthquake zones. Like of the baby that was rescued alive after more than 100 hours – what a miracle! Or of children helping to unload and distribute relief supplies – it breaks my heart.
It’s been a week since the earthquake. Unfortunately, I don’t have much hope that they’ll find many more survivors. I almost expect that eventually a million people will be recovered dead – many of them impossible to identify. These people will then be buried under a number and without a name. This is hard to bear.
I try to step back from the photos and videos, but I can’t. I feel helpless and powerless. And I’m not the only one who feels this way. The solidarity within the Turkish community in Germany is strong. However, what we don’t sense is compassion from the rest of society – regardless of whether we still have relatives and friends in the regions or not. We feel left alone and helpless with our grief.
What can we do against the feeling of helplessness, how can we help?
Most importantly: donate money! To Ahbap, for example, a very active, trustworthy NGO in Turkey. People have lost their homes, it’s necessary to rebuild towns and schools. This, too, will require donations in the long term. As well as psychotherapeutic services.
The basic needs must be met first, of course – food, drink, a safe roof over their heads. Only then – if at all – can the self-healing process begin. Trauma therapy is not something you provide immediately after such an event. And not everyone develops post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) after such a traumatic experience. Many manage to process the events on their own and show no symptoms. Others simply can’t sleep any more. Still others develop depression or anxiety disorders, for example panic disorder – it varies from person to person. This is why counselling services must be just as personalised. It’s important to signal to people who are directly and indirectly affected that they are not alone and that you are there if they want to talk about it – without pushing them to do so.
Has it already been considered how to help these people from here?
My idea is to organise and offer therapy services online in the form of group therapies from here. I still need colleagues to help me with this. In order for this to happen, a stable primary care system for the earthquake victims must be in place, and there must be internet access in the area. All this will take time.
And we mustn’t forget that here in Germany many people have relatives and friends in the disaster areas from whom they haven’t heard or whom they may have lost. The crisis services offered by the Treatment Center for Psychotherapy provide readily available counselling. In these crisis counselling sessions, the aim is to quickly identify symptoms, to examine treatment options and to achieve initial stabilisation.
If you are interested in joining Beray Macit in her endeavour to offer therapy services, please write her an e-mail.
Doctors without Borders? Red Cross? Local organisations? There’s a wide range of humanitarian aid organisations to choose from. “But where does my money really go? And what percentage of my donation will really reach the people in need?” These are the questions that some people may ask themselves before they donate. The German Central Institute for Social Issues (DZI) knows the answer. It monitors how charities use their donations. Recipients of donations that the DZI considers to be particularly eligible for support are granted the DZI Seal of Approval. A list of certified organisations is available here (German website).
If you’d like to find out more, you can use the DZI Donor Advisory Service (German website). It is a recognised inspection body that independently and competently assesses the business conduct of humanitarian aid organisations. The DZI recommendations offer security to potential donors and the public, while its critical assessments warn against malpractices and black sheep.
The DZI) has compiled a list of names, addresses and account numbers of organisations calling for donations to help the people hit by the earthquake in Turkey and Syria. The organisations on the list bear the DZI Seal of Approval as an indicator of their eligibility for support. This list is available here (German website).
22 February 2023