Vitale, A and El-Warari, A (2017) The effect of prolonged violence in male and female refugees’ mental health and on their integration in the host country. In: International Conference on Interpersonal Violence Interventions: Social and Cultural Perspectives, 14 -16 June 2017, University of Jyväskylä, Jyväskylä, Finland.

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The overall aim of this paper is to discuss how prolonged exposure to violence affects both female and male refugees’ mental health and their resettlement and integration in the host country. Refugees are forced to leave their country; they may be survivors of systematic infliction of physical and/or psychological violence, such as threat, torture, rape, detention, witnessing genocide and the death of family members. Refugees are, therefore, victims of violence acts that are intentionally made to deprive them of their identity, security and sense of belonging. Furthermore, the type of violence they are exposed to during their journey, including violence inflicted by traffickers, acts to deteriorate their mental health. This can impinge on a refugee’s resettlement and integration in their host country. Refugees are also exposed to gender based violence. In women this might be related to genocidal rape, sexual torture, genital mutilation, forced marriage and forced prostitution. Male refugees are also exposed to gender based violence, they are more likely than women to be persecuted in their own country in order to eliminate their ethno-cultural group. They may also have been victims of what Mezey and Thachil (2010) call male trauma. This is the result of psychological violence perpetrated by those in a position of authority with the aim of extorting information and to punish and disempower men and robbing them of their masculinity. Both, male and female refugees fear being re-traumatised by situations that can evoke their past. This might explain their reluctance to seek help from what they perceive as authority figures. The current paper aims to shed light on the current debate on how to approach and provide adequate physical and mental health care to male and female refugees and on how to best facilitate their integration into their host country.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Divisions: College of Liberal Arts
Date Deposited: 25 Jan 2017 12:08
Last Modified: 25 Aug 2017 14:23
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