Depression, Anxiety, Post-traumatic Stress Disorder and a History of Pervasive Gender-Based Violence Among Women Asylum Seekers Who Have Undergone Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting: A Retrospective Case Review

Hazel Lever, Deborah Ottenheimer, Jimmitti Teysir, Elizabeth Singer, Holly G. Atkinson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations

Abstract

We sought to evaluate the frequency of anxiety, depression, PTSD, and any experiences of violence in women who had undergone Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting (FGM/C) and were seeking asylum in the United States. We undertook a retrospective qualitative descriptive study of FGM/C cases seen in an asylum clinic over a 2-year period. Standardized questionnaires provided quantitative scores for anxiety, depression and PTSD. Clients’ personal and physician medical affidavits were analyzed for experiences of violence. Of the 13 cases, anxiety and depression were exhibited by 92 and 100% of women, while all seven women screened for PTSD had symptoms. Qualitative analysis revealed extensive violence perpetrated against these women, demonstrating that FGM/C is only part of the trauma experienced. The high level of mental health disorders and endured violence has implications for providers working with FGM/C survivors and indicates the need for accessible mental health services and trauma-informed care.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)483-489
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Immigrant and Minority Health
Volume21
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - 15 Jun 2019

Keywords

  • Anxiety
  • Asylum seekers
  • Depression
  • Female genital mutilation/cutting
  • Gender-based violence
  • Mental health
  • PTSD

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