Trauma is not the whole story: Trajectories of responses to childhood disasters intertwining with Life following the Indian Ocean tsunami

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In an era of global threats, understanding the implications of disasters on young people's life course is of central importance. A particular emphasis should be placed on non-Western economically developing societies that are considered as vulnerable and are less studied, and on social groups within these societies that are underrepresented. The present study focuses on young Sri Lankan women who experienced the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami as children. Thirteen young women generated their life stories in semi-structured interviews, 12 years after the disaster had elapsed. Holistic narrative analysis revealed new variations and in-depth meanings in disaster response trajectories and presented the intertwining courses of the responses to the Potentially Traumatic Event (PTE) with ecological aspects throughout development, as in Trajectories intertwining with Life (TiL). This study provides empirical, methodological, conceptual and practical innovations to the study of human development throughout the life course, within the interdisciplinary fields of trauma and disasters. Highlights: This research is interested in how childhood disaster response trajectories among an understudied population are understood through an ecological-developmental perspective. Life stories uncover Trajectories intertwining with Life (TiL) among Sri Lankan women who were children during the Indian Ocean tsunami. The TiL unique outcomes, integrating trauma responses as inseparable from ecological and developmental aspects, offer various theoretical and applied implications.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere2437
JournalInfant and Child Development
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1 Jul 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 The Author. Infant and Child Development published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd.


  • Indian Ocean tsunami
  • disasters
  • ecological-developmental perspective
  • life stories
  • potentially traumatic events (PTEs)
  • qualitative research
  • trajectories of responses

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology


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