Socio-ecological explorations of resilience among refugee victims of torture in Athens, Greece
Abstract The dual trauma inherent in being both a victim of torture as well a refugee is related to a myriad of losses, human rights violations and other dimensions of suffering. Furthermore, a plethora of research has demonstrated the psychological impact of discrimination and racism experienced by migrants upon arrival to the host country (Akhtar, 1999; Hollander et al., 2016; Kartal & Kiropoulos, 2016). Such research highlights how “racial trauma” (Tummala-Nara, 2007) can have a profound impact on an individual’s sense of self, identity formation, and relationships with others. However, focusing too heavily on trauma risks pathologizing individuals, thereby ignoring wider socio-ecological contexts and denying aspects of resilience. This paper explores resilience as it is experienced by refugees in the context of a relational community (Eades, 2013). Resilience here is considered essentially as a social and environmental attribute (Lusk & Baray, 2017), the capacity of a person’s “informal and formal social networks to facilitate positive development under stress” (Ungar, 2013, p.1).

In order to explore trauma and resilience among refugee victims of torture, we present the results of 12 months of research among refugees in a centre for victims of torture in Athens. This research includes 125 in-depth, qualitative interviews with victims of torture, health professionals, cultural mediators/interpreters, and leaders from refugee communities. Case studies illustrate the substantial psychological impact of current material realities of refugee victims of torture as they adapt to their new environment and confront discrimination, and the variety of resources they draw upon to build resilience. Using a socio-ecological framework (Sleijpen, Mooren, Kleber, & Boeije, 2017), we explore the strategies used by this population in order to discuss additional insights of an interpersonal and communal perspective for the growing field of research regarding resilience after traumatic experiences.
Citation Womersley, G. (2018). Socio-ecological explorations of resilience among refugee victims of torture in Athens, Greece. Presented at IRIS : Racial Displacement - Peripheries, Camps, Resistance, Birmingham, United Kingdom.
Type Presentation (English)
Date 19-6-2018
Event IRIS : Racial Displacement - Peripheries, Camps, Resistance (Birmingham, United Kingdom)
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