Female Survivors of African Wars Dealing With the Past and Present
Over-stressed and over-burdened, Somali women in Canada provide for family members while heading their households in new and sometimes unfamiliar cultural and social landscapes. Mapped by previous ordeals and the strains of relocation (Danso, 2002), time and again past traumas and settlement experiences intersect, producing new barriers that these women struggle to overcome (Baines, 2007, p. 108; Galabuzi, 2002). As a result, many display classic signs of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and anxiety (Acosta, 2004; DSMV, 2009). Yet there is an absence of Canadian literature documenting these issues for Somali women in this country. Thus, based on stories, counselling sessions and community meetings, I present this paper as an introduction to their experiences of barriers to settling in Canada, the inability to seek necessary services, cultural and religious restrictions, previous trauma experiences, poverty and insufficient means of transportation. To better understand these barriers, I examine the impacts of prolonged trauma on the women’s experiences in Canada and on the transference of trauma from mothers to children and adolescents. Finally, I explore the health seeking behaviours, mental wellbeing and socioeconomic status of Somali women within the context of culture, religion and settlement in Canada.
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