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Mount Holyoke College

Publication Date

Fall 2018

Program Name

Rwanda: Post-Genocide Restoration and Peacebuilding


The 1994 Rwandan Genocide against the Tutsi exposed an entire population to unimaginable acts of violence and created severe and lasting psychological effects for all who were involved. This study focuses on this impact in those who participated in the genocide, acknowledging that committing crime carries a psychological burden and in many cases traumatizes the perpetrator. Through interviews conducted with ten genocide perpetrators and four professionals who have worked closely with them, the study describes the impacts of genocide participation, analyzes various coping strategies, and explores the psychological counseling processes for perpetrators in Rwanda today. Results suggest that genocide participation has a persistent and lasting effect on the mental health of perpetrators today, with many participants displaying signs of trauma in line with PTSD. Mechanisms such as sharing their pain with others, joining community support groups, and seeking forgiveness from their victims seem to elevate these negative effects. Currently there are many programs designed to provide counseling services to perpetrators, yet they remain reserved about utilizing those recourses, and there remains a stigma surrounding perpetrators seeking counseling in Rwanda today.


African History | African Languages and Societies | African Studies | Counseling Psychology | Holocaust and Genocide Studies | Race, Ethnicity and Post-Colonial Studies


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