The Impact on the Victims caused by Terrorism

The Impact on the Victims caused by Terrorism

Terrorism has become one of the most dangerous crime in the world, because terrorism isn’t just killed its victims, but also tends to attack the psychological side of its victim with the help from their friend who are equally benefited by their actions, namely the media. The mass media played critical role because they create and proclaim horrible news of terrorism through the tv screen, newspapers and even the gadget which powered by internet.

Hendropriyono (2009) asserts that terrorism is a threat or use of violence for political purpose when such actions is intended to influence the attitude and behaviour of a target group wider than its immediate victims. This views just like what Walter Reich views (Hendropriyono, 2009:25), he argues that terrorism is a strategy of violence designed to promote desire outcomes by instilling fear in the public at large. The intention was to influence and instilling fear in public, because the victims are not as important as the citizens who become frightened.

When they made people frightened, they can control everything, even the government policies. Look what happened in Iraq, when ISIS attacked the city of Mosul, Baghdad, and other major cities, they did horrifying things such as ferocious murder to Iraqi army, and even they beheaded the foreign journalists.

After that the Iraqi people started to left their home and their city, exactly like what is desired by the terrorists, unconsciously the terrorist now already control the Iraqi people. The terrorist deliberately make Iraqis leave their cities, so they can take over everything right there, especially like what is owned by the city of Mosul, “the black diamond” called oil. What the terrorist really wanted was the thousand of people only as spectators, not necessarily as dead (Whittaker, 2004).

Terrorism throughout history has become a frightened specter, particularly because terrorism is a movement who always cause thousand victims from the civilians who are not directly linked with their intention. The physical impact caused by the terrorist sometimes not only hit their targets, but mostly hit the innocent victims. Anyone could become victims of terrorism anytime, and anyplace.

Just as happened in the United States on 11 September 2001. A terrific attack launched by al-Qaeda targeted the World Trade Center towers, the ultimate tangible representations of American prosperity and economic might; also the Pentagon, a universally recognized architectural emblem of the United States’ globe-dominating, unassailable-at-home-or abroad military power. In a matter of moments, one of these symbols had been totally destroyed and the other had been badly damaged─and, to compound the psychological battering. The destruction of these cherished symbols severely undermined the functional integrity of the psychological shield that ordinarily enables the American to feel secure in a world where the only real certainty in life is death. In so doing, the terrorist attacks surely heightened the explicit and implicit thoughts of death that a secure belief in a cultural worldview typically serves to quell.

Pyszczynski (2003) state that the tragic events of 9/11, had caused many of Americans, especially the residents of New York and DC, were, and continue to be, clearly traumatized. The aftermath of 9/11 the Americans were worried, the specter of death lurked everywhere and no one felt safe. In their book, Pyszczynski (2003) also listed the proximal reactions to 9/11 derived from the Americans. First is “it can’t happen here”, the first reaction for many was one of simple disbelief: This cannot be happening! Another common initial response from the Americans was to thank they lucky stars that they were not directly and personally involved, they were not in the World Trade Center, Pentagon, or doomed jets that crashed into those landmarks. The second is “driven to distraction”, Americans sought out comfort by diverting their attention to other matters, such as drinking, gambling, renting videos, watching television, and shopping. Pyszczynski states that for almost three months after the terrorist attack, New Yorkers are drinking more than ever, and the rise in consumption of alcoholic drinks then has become a nationwide phenomenon in the United States.

The third proximal reactions which mentioned by the author is “curling up like an armadillo”. The author states that another aspect of proximal defense is the attempt to deal with the problem of terror by doing something that can be rationally expected to minimize one’s vulnerability. For example is the widespread tendency to avoid flying; shunning large crowds; steering clear of national monuments, theme parks, and major internationally televised sporting events (e.g., the Superbowl and the Olympics).

The author also mention about how the Americans prepare their self for proximal defenses with buying latex gloves and gas masks, weapons, and other protective devices. The reason why these things are done by the Americans is people of United States is trying to minimize their vulnerability by essentially attempting to outwit the terrorists and avoid becoming fodder for their next attacks. The Americans also make a massive investigation and hunt for the perpetrators of the 9/11 attacks and the attempts to increase the security of airports, post offices, and government buildings as proximal defensive strategies for ensuring the safety of the people of United States (Pyszczynski, 2003:98).

The fourth is “the undermining of freedom”, for the Americans, some of the most tragic victims of the terrorist attacks may be the many freedoms that they have in their daily lives. If compared with most other places in the world, for the most part, the Americans are able to come and go as they please, with little interference from the government authority. But unfortunately, the relative openness and freedom of American society were part of what made the United States are so vulnerable to the terrorist attacks.

In a free society, like United States, it is relatively easy for people to come and go, and to obtain, transport, and use items that could be used to produce horrific tragedies, and that’s make American society become vulnerable to be attacked, the aftermath the government agencies are likely to now take a much more active and intrusive role in monitoring every movements of their society in an effort to avert similar tragedies in the future. Because of terrorism they have to pay the consequences for being a free society.

As a result of being free society, they become vulnerable, as a result of becoming vulnerable, they were attacked with ease, due to an attack that easily penetrates them, they immediately build a wall great and powerful in their own environment. Security at airports has been increased massively. Long lines, hand searches of luggage, x-ray inspection of packages, chemical screening of shoes, and bodily pat downs are now an accepted part of air travel, and these things are the examples of the walls that formed by Americans. And also the U.S. Congress has acted quickly by heighten the power of law enforcement authorities to conduct clandestine observations, including wiretaps, searches, and other potential invasions of their privacy. Random searches of cars, monitoring of information on the Internet, and more careful scrutiny of foreign visitors are other examples of the steps being taken or proposed to increase our safety and avert the potential for future attacks. Thus, the majority of Americans seem to be willing to sacrifice at least some freedom and convenience for the sake of safety.

Pyszczynski (2003) also mention about the distal reaction due to 9/11. The author states that many Americans still asking themselves how could this tragic event happens to them, because they’re still thinking they are the the strongest, most prosperous and secure country in the world. But there is some interesting thing behind this tragic event. In a free society like US, actually people are not having interest to visit religious places like church or mosque and others, but subsequently, people flocked to churches, synagogues, and mosques, seeking answers and trying to restore a sense of meaning and value in a world seemingly gone crazy. Author mentioned that this thing are not surprisingly, but actually this a interesting and surprising, cause in free society they are only concerned with their self-interest rather than religious things, even about their faith.

Its proven by a September 21 Gallup Poll found the highest level of church attendance in America since the 1950s (Pyszczynski, 2003:100). Just imagine these, ever since 1950s until 2001, this is the highest level of church attendance in America. And also according to the American Bible Society, the Bible sales flourished, the sales increased 45% since 9/11. Maybe need another terrorist attack to make people flocked to religious places and bought bible to seek God.

Not only went to religious places and bought bible, Americans quickly strove to re-establish their damaged sense of security by reaffirming their faith in the American way of life. The US flags are everywhere, and they started to proclaiming slogan such as “United we stand,” “Proud to be an American,” and “God Bless America” in everywhere.

The author also mention about how the Americans treated people who are merely different are also likely to be dealt with harshly as a result of heightened concerns about mortality. They started to increasing stereotyping, prejudice, and bigotry in the aftermath of the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

Sadly in the aftermath of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, many Arab Americans and visitors from Middle Eastern countries have experienced an increased sense of rejection and discrimination in the wake of the bombings. For example the author cites Jacoby (2001) that assert about a mosque in Texas was firebombed, speeding cars rammed mosques in Indiana and Ohio, and death threats were phoned in to the Islamic Center of New England. A New York man tried to run over a Muslim woman in his car, and two Muslim women were beaten at an Illinois college. Not surprisingly, many Islamic Americans reported being afraid to go out on the streets after 9/11, fearful of possibly violent reprisals for the attacks even though they had nothing to do with them. Some have decided that it is simply too dangerous to remain in the United States in the wake of the bombings.

Based to those example, the author says that sometimes the fear, anger, and desperate need for understanding resulting from heightened accessibility of death thoughts are directed toward those with no obvious similarities to the perpetrators of the attacks. Terrorism has a critical impact on its victims, not to those who already death, but to those who’s watched and witnessed the tragic event. Deep down in their heart, or in their subconscious, they’re hurt so bad, and prepared to make a counterattack in their own ways. The easiest ways to do that is to increasing stereotyping, prejudice, and bigotry, also shows rejections and discrimination to those  who have the same race, religion, or same looks with the perpetrators of the attack.



Pyszczynski, Tom, Solomon, Sheldon, & Greenberg, Jeff, 2003, In the Wake of 9/11: The Psychology of Terror, Washington: APA

Hendropriyono, A.M., 2009, Terorisme Fundamentalis Kristen, Yahudi, Islam, Jakarta: Penerbit Buku Kompas

Whittaker, David J., 2004, Terrorists and Terrorism in the Contemporary World, London & New York: Routledge

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