The family plays an important dynamic role in persisting symptomatology among children. In order to preserve cohesion in the family, dysfunctional behaviours and delegation of roles may occur. Family members, often children, can be assigned the role of patient and develop severe disorders. A child may be overly protected or important facts about the trauma may be hidden. Alternatively, the child can be “parentified” and expected to care for the parents.
When the child is not the direct victim of torture but only affected indirectly, adults often tend to underestimate the impact on the child’s psyche and development. When loved ones around a child have been persecuted, raped and tortured or the child has witnessed severe trauma or torture, s/he may develop dysfunctional beliefs, such as that he/she is responsible for the bad events or that s/he has to bear the parent’s burdens. These types of beliefs can lead to long-term problems with loyalty conflicts, guilt, personal development and maturing into an independent adult.