How Trauma Affects Refugee Mothers



Indelele, Egette

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Refugees often experience many traumatic events before, during, and after their journey that predispose them to mental illnesses and affects their transition to the host country. Due to that understanding, the purpose of this research was to identify ways to better support refugee mothers and their families in having an easier transition, understand the experiences of refugee mothers as they relate to stress and trauma, identify coping mechanisms that refugee mothers use, and educate and raise awareness about the different trauma and stressors that mothers experience before and after migration. The challenges that this paper reviewed are intergenerational trauma, experiences of identity changes, and investigated coping styles engaged by refugee mothers. The questions purposed were 1: How do the experiences of trauma before migration and stressors after migration affect the day-to-day lives of refugees? 2: What is the impact of identity change? And 3: What strategies have refugee mothers utilized to cope with trauma? The current study used secondary data by a team of researchers at George Mason University, led by Associate Professor of Counseling, Dr. Rachael Goodman. The original study conducted by Goodman and colleagues (see Goodman et al., 2017) used purposeful sampling (Patton, 1990) to identify participants who would be information-rich (Patton, 2002) and thus able to provide a depth of understanding of the lived experiences of refugee and undocumented immigrant women. Our results suggested that the way stressful experiences impact individuals depended on previous experiences that they had gone through, such as situational, sociopolitical, and war. Our results also showed that stressors impact individuals differently. Although we can’t generalize our findings due to the number of interviews that we obtained and not enough detailed information on the topic of interest, we were able to identify changes directly from the mothers that are needed to decrease post-migration stressors for. Our research focused solely on the experiences of refugee mothers in Northern Virginia from a few different countries. The results of our study do not represent other mothers who are from or who have resettled in other regions.



Trauma, Refugee mothers, Mental health, Copying styles, Qualitative research, Secondary research