Pathways to Help-Seeking and Mental Health Service Provision for African Female Survivors of Conflict-Related Sexualized Gender-Based Violence

Author(s): Sophie YOHANI, Philomena OKEKE-IHEJIRIKA


African migration to Canada is a relatively new development. There is a dearth of literature on the mental health of this newer immigrant population, especially those from the conflict zones of Sub-Saharan Africa. Our exploratory study examined the experiences of African female survivors of conflict-related sexualized violence based on the insights of six community mental health professionals. Guided by interpretive inquiry, semi-structured interviews were analyzed thematically and interpreted in light of multicultural feminist and transnational perspectives. Findings highlight refugee women’s resilience in the face of threats of social isolation and stigma. Their prioritization of assistance with practical needs, parenting, community/social supports, and education attainment in the context of counseling raises questions about agency and identity in understanding the relationships between female survivors, what they identify as important to their recovery, and their pathways to accessing mental health services.

KEYWORDS: Adaptationgender-based violencehelp seekingpsychotherapyrefugeessexualized violencesilencetraumatrauma-informedwomen

Tags: Canada, Africa, Women, Refugees, Sexual violence, Conflict, War, Traumatic life events, Psychotherapy, Access to mental health care, Resilience, Coping strategies

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