We can help seafarers be more resilient to pirate attacks. This is the view of Dr. Michael Stuart Garfinkle of SCI who has published the first clinical study of piracy’s effect on seafarers.
Better coordination to enhance resilience, identifying resources available to seafarers and improved access to those resources would go a long way to reduce seafarers’ suffering from the long-term effects of trauma, he said. In an article published by the Seamen’ s Church Institute of New York and New Jersey, Garfinkle writes:
Maritime piracy represents the single greatest risk to the seafaring community—not because of its prevalence, but because of the potential magnitude of traumatic experience. Resilience describes how we get through the stressors of everyday life, how we survive tragedy and how we recover from traumatic experience. If we think of traumatic experiences as those that interrupt our ability to think, disturb our feelings and make us feel overwhelmed, resilience is the counterforce that minimizes the impact of trauma. Extensive trauma, both in terms of length and intensity, especially tests resilience. Where there are direct threats to life, outcomes tend to be worse.
As a process, resilience is possible at the individual and community level. An individual can be supported in coping, in using available help from loved ones and professionals and in returning to purpose in life. Many seafarers come from supportive families and communities, and the literature on resilience and surviving traumatic experience suggests that acceptance by peers improves outcomes.
You can help foster resilience by accepting a person’s temporary weakness due to difficult experience.
- Accept that their suffering is normal.
- See expressions of pain as opportunities to render help.