Rape and Domestic Violence: The Experience of Refugee Women

TitleRape and Domestic Violence: The Experience of Refugee Women
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication1992
AuthorsFriedman, Amy R.
JournalWomen & Therapy

Despite the fact that women and girls make up over half of the world's 18 million refugees, little attention or resources have been dedicated to meeting their needs. Although all refugees face health and protection problems, women are susceptible to additional problems as a result of their gender. Women and girls who flee their home countries to escape violence and persecution are particularly vulnerable to sexual violence. Rape is a common experience for refugee women, and the resulting trauma has life altering affects for both the women and their families. Often male refugees suffer from "heightened male vulnerability" as a reaction to witnessing torture, violence or rape. This, combined with the additional stress of resettlement in a new culture, often leads male refugees to resort to domestic violence as a way of reestablishing control and gaining power. Since refugee women are the pillars of their families, domestic violence and rape trauma present serious obstacles to the self-sufficiency of refugee families. It is the responsibility of health care providers in both the international community and in countries of resettlement to significantly address sexual violence and its repercussions on the successful resettlement of refugees.

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