A Grounded Theory Investigation into the Experiences of African Women Refugees: Effects on Resilience and Identity and Implications for Service Provision

ABSTRACT

The current study aims to explore African women’s experiences of violence during conflict. The research was undertaken in 2009 in part fulfillment for a Doctorate degree in Clinical Psychology. Previous research on women refugees’ experiences has focused on the negative impact on psychological functioning despite indications that they show great strength and resilience. Using qualitative methods the study sought to identify the impact of violence on mental health as well as develop a greater understanding of the roles of resilience, coping and identity. Women from Somalia and Zimbabwe who attended a refugee centre in the UK were interviewed; analysis of the results identified a relationship between resilience, access to rights and support and identity. It also recognised cultural and societal influences and experiences in the United Kingdom as contributing factors. Findings support the move toward a more holistic model of understanding refugee women’s experiences. However, the study also reveals the importance of support and treatment assisting women to utilise their resilience in reconstructing their identities from traumatic events and recovery process.

SOURCE: Sherwood, Katie and Liebling-Kalifani, Helen. A Grounded Theory Investigation into the Experiences of African Women Refugees: Effects on Resilience and Identity and Implications for Service Provision. Journal of International Women’s Studies, 2012, 13(1), 86-108.

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