Psychosocial Models for Prevention and Wellbeing: Addressing Authority-based Violence in Urban Neighbourhoods

This paper argues for the need to develop psychosocial approaches that focus on combining preventative and healing work through community-led interventions with risk groups, their families, their neighbours and wider communities, and finally the authorities that perpetrate violence to maintain order. While highly specialized (legal) prevention and (health-related) rehabilitation practices have contributed to addressing torture and ill-treatment, they also leave gaps, not least when we begin addressing violence employed to preserve local social, legal and moral orders in poor, urban neighbourhoods, what we term state and non-state authority-based violence. This violence is mundane and chronic rather than sudden traumatic eruptions of violence and has often been normalized, even by its victims. Interventions in such contexts demand that we reconsider some of our basic assumptions about how to go about working against torture and ill-treatment. This paper attempts to reconceptualise human rights work in ways that make sense for a focus on authority-based violence in poor, urban neighbourhoods. The paper does not produce a set of best practices and models to be implemented. Rather it sets out our reflections on how to understand the contexts of violence, identify the target groups of interventions and spell out the theories of change relevant in the different contexts.