The Trauma of Chechen Refugee Women Living in Turkey: Meaning-Making and Coping Strategies

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DOI: 10.12738/mejrs.2018.3.2.0044

Year: 2018 Vol: 3 Number: 2

Abstract

This research aims to explore how Chechen refugee women living in Turkey who have lived through the distress of war and traumatic loss in particular make sense of their experience. More specifically, it examines these women’s meaning-making and coping strategies. The semi-structured interviews with 13 Chechen refugee women have provided the main data of this research. Interpretive phenomenological analysis has been used to analyze the data. The analysis of the accounts shows Chechen women to have become vulnerable and distressed. In response to the traumatic experiences of war, they have deepened their religious beliefs, as these beliefs provide resources for dealing with their traumatic memories. In consideration of the meaning-making and coping strategies of the Chechen women in this study, 10 recurrent themes have been found: increased religious service, submitting to the will of God, Alhamdulillah, theological explanations for the causes of war, depersonalizing traumatic experiences, what qualifies one as a martyr, the expected benefits of martyrdom, earning the honor of this martyrdom, idealizing the martyr, and a narrative of obliged happiness. All coping strategies except the narrative of obliged happiness have been found as important resources for coping and resilience for Chechen women. The narrative of obligatory happiness, however appears to interfere with these women’s healing processes.

Keywords
The Russian-Chechen conflict, Refugees, Trauma, Coping strategies, Religion

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