Date of Award

Spring 2014

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts


International Studies, Anthropology

First Advisor

Janet Bauer

Second Advisor

Beth Notar


For Iraqi refugee women in Connecticut, trauma is a pervasive and debilitating force that affects their everyday lives. Although these women escaped the persecution and ongoing violence in Iraq, they suffer from feelings of loneliness and anxiety and are haunted by flashbacks, nightmares and memories of their traumatic experiences. Coupled with fears for their relatives who still have to endure the worsening situation in Iraq, Iraqi refugee women are caught between dealing with a trauma of the past and a trauma that permeates their lives in America. Aside from medical institutions, social capital networks including ethnic communities, mosques, refugee resettlement organizations, and faith-based associations can have a significant impact on the coping mechanisms of this vulnerable population. What resources do Iraqi refugee women in particular use to tackle their mental health related issues and feelings of loneliness, stress and loss? An ethnographic approach to interviewing these women over the course of a year provided insight to this question. My project revealed that Iraqi refugee women confront their traumatic experiences through transnational ties to family members by: a) speaking about their traumatic stories as a means to remember or to forget, and b) being able to relate to an individual who has undergone and may still be undergoing trauma within the specific sociocultural and historical context of Iraq. Transnational networks accomplish a) and b) through preserving contact by means of communication over the Internet. In the conclusion, I note that a dual approach needs to occur which promotes awareness around mental illness in various communities and the incorporation of more culturally appropriate mental health services to allow Iraqi refugees to heal from their trauma.


Senior thesis completed at Trinity College for the degree of Bachelor of Arts in International Studies and Anthropology.