Greek Australians of Pontian descent tell stories of uprooting and trauma

The experiences of loss and identity of the Pontian refugees and their descendants were highlighted during a Zoom presentation organized by the Australian Greek women’s network, Food For Thought Network (FFTN).

The session, addressing the topic of intergenerational trauma of the Pontian refugee woman, featured psychologist Sofia Georgiadou, from Kozani, Greece, as keynote speaker and was moderated by FFTN Founder and President, Varvara Athanasiou-Ioannou.

Over 50 participants from Australia, Greece and around the world attended, while three Greek Australians of Pontian descent – ​​Roma Siachos, Litsa Athanasidis and Simela Stamatopoulos – told their own family stories of uprooting and loss.

The keynote speaker, Ms. Gergiadou, also of Pontian origin, explained the mechanisms of traumatic experiences and how these apply in the case of Pontian refugees and their descendants.

Trauma inherited by the second and subsequent generations is called intergenerational trauma.

As explained during the session, intergenerational trauma is transmitted primarily via emotional attachment to parents, with subsequent generations inheriting the trauma through recurrent exposure to fear and threat.

The session ended with an open discussion that exceeded the scheduled two hours.

“Like the Greeks […] the past that engulfs us is woven with the pain of war, genocide and displacement: the delicate course of our history fragmented by forces more powerful than us,” says FFTN founder and event moderator Ms Athanasiou -Ioannou.

“However, despite the years that have passed, Greeks remain connected to those past events that affect us to this day in insidious and secret ways.”

To find out more about Food For Thought, see their website www.fftn.org.au or contact [email protected]