Improving responses to refugees with backgrounds of multiple trauma

26 Aug 2013

This monograph brings together five contributions from writers who are recognised for their expertise and experience working with refugees who have histories of trauma, including torture, sexual violence and domestic and family violence.

Key points

  • Research and practice with refugee women seeking assistance for settlement and other needs demonstrates high levels of exposure to multiple traumatic incidents.
  • These incidents include many acts of sexual violence, including rape, forced sex through economic abuse (‘survival sex’), forced marriage and sexual abuse of children.
  • Prior experiences of sexual violence often increase the isolation and shame felt by refugee victims of domestic and family violence in Australia, compounded by ostracism and exclusion from their own communities.
  • Service providers in the domestic violence and sexual assault field, as well as settlement services, are not always aware of the extent of harm and the impacts of prior experiences of horrific trauma on the needs of refugee women who present to their service.
  • Increased understanding, cultural safety and provision of a safe space to talk about trauma are important if services are to improve their responses.

Authored by Lana Zannettino, Eileen Pittaway, Rebecca Eckert and Linda Bartolomei, Beata Ostapiej-Piatkowski, Annabelle Allimant and Jill Parris.

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