How can positive psychology practices empower acid burn survivors to overcome their personal struggles and the adversity they face?

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What is the issue?
In areas of India, more than 25% of women experience domestic violence, and this number represents only those who have come forth about it, indicating the value may be much higher (Bhandare, Namita). My focus group for my project is a group of women who are acid burn survivors. These women all have varying stories, however, the majority of them suffered from domestic violence, and were burned by their husbands. Many of these women suffer from depression, several of them burning themselves while attempting suicide. These events left most of these women not only traumatised but also scarred for life. This led to them also suffer from adversity in their daily lives, with people judging them due to their appearance. There are many cultural norms in India that make these women’s lives very difficult, especially for acid burn survivors, leaving them as outcasts in society (Heanue, Siobhan).
If you are interested in learning more about acid attacks, and the situation in India, here is an article detailing what acid burn survivors have to live through in India.

Click Here to learn more about acid burn survivors situation in India

(Fantazi, Mohammed)

Click here to learn more about the Writers Cafe NGO and the women working there

(Asmita, Ghosh)

Who is this project helping?
As stated earlier, I will be focusing on a group of acid burn survivors in my community. In Chennai, the city that I live in, there is a cafe and NGO called the Writers Cafe. I found out about their NGO after visiting the cafe, and I was intrigued to learn more. The cafe employs and trains a group of acid burn survivors, giving them a place in society, where they do not feel ashamed, and financial means to support themselves ((Asmita, Ghosh). Now that these women have reintegrated into society, I want to aid in empowering them and helping them attain a purposeful future and be happy in the present. 

How can I help them?
Through my research, and through my interview with the Manager of the restaurant, Sharadha Dharmaraj, I was able to learn that one of the main aspects these women need help with is to help them tackle their depression, overcome their trauma, and find hope and purpose in a better future. I am personally not qualified to help with some of the above, however, using my positive psychology tools, I have decided to make a project focusing on gratitude, meaning, and purpose in order to help improve their current mental health, and build a brighter future.

(Asmita, Ghosh)

Learn more about this artist and how she is spreading awareness about acid burn attacks Here.

(Fantazi, Mohammed)

What have I created, and what positive psychology tools did I use?
I have created a 4-week online journal program, which includes interactive activities, zoom calls, journaling, and more. One positive Psychology concept I used is Martin Seligman Wellbeing Theory & PERMA. Martin Seligman’s Wellbeing Theory centere’s around 5 factors that would together, help you achieve wellbeing. Positive emotion, Engagement, Relationships, Meaning, and accomplishment. The program touches on almost all of them, with a particular emphasis on Meaning and Positive emotion. This is in hopes to help them manifest positive emotions and feelings about their current life and situation, and also help them find meaning and purpose in life, which will help them move into the future (Authentic Happiness).
Another major positive psychology concept I used is gratitude. The whole program surrounds, it, and it also helps achieve positive emotions. Gratitude has numerous benefits,  it lowers the release of stress hormones, decreasing anxiety, and increasing the activation of hormones associated with more positive emotions. Many of these women suffer from PTSD, and so therefore reducing stress levels can alleviate some symptoms, Also, by practicing gratitude you can rewire your mind to become more grateful unconsciously, by strengthening those neural pathways, and thinking more positively unconsciously (The Neuroscience of Gratitude and How It Affects Anxiety & Grief).

Final Product- 4 Week Virtual Journal Programme

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  1. Hey Noa!
    This is really really amazing. The fact that you went out of your way to interview the manager of the restaurant to get more information and to really want to hear their story is so incredible and kind, it really shows how dedicated you are to this project, and I am sure they would really appreciate the amount of hard work and effort that went into this.
    Beautiful work!

    1. Thank you so much, Deborah, I really appreciate you’re comment!

  2. Hi Noa! Your four week program was incredible! I can tell you put a lot of work into this project and particularly liked the local focus you took on. I can’t imagine how helpful this will be for the women in your community as you bring in such knowledgable strategies to help with the mental illnesses that are associated with acid burn survivors. I wonder if you could create make this program available to people in general as I can see these positive psych techniques helping many including myself!

    1. Hi Mary! Thank you so much! I think making the program available publically is a great idea, thanks! Also, I’m glad to hear you would find these practices helpful as well!

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