Anna, a bright and extroverted 26-year-old from a Central American country, has just arrived at a counseling center presenting with severe depression and anxiety. Several years ago, three members of one of the most brutal guerrilla regimes in her home country held her hostage at gunpoint and sexually assaulted her for several hours. Her apparent crime was that some months before she had led a march for women’s rights at the college she attended. Members of the guerilla group broke up the march and then beat the young women and men, many of whom need hospitalization. Anna was among them and was hospitalized for five days of treatment. Several months later, three members of this group surprised Anna at home; they terrorized, raped, and threatened her numerous times with death before eventually leaving with further threats if she dared to protest publicly again for women.
After this last incident, Anna fled her home country and came to the United States through a circuitous route. She had no option but to use smugglers for much of the journey. She had had to leave so abruptly and had so few resources that she left her three-year old son behind with her grandmother. Grandmother sends Anna pictures of her little boy regularly via text message, but Anna is devastated every time she thinks of him. In order to get through her day, she tries to put him out of her mind. It is clear that this effort and the loss that she feels for her son is serious. She is currently seeking asylum in this country and, because she needs to support herself though she has no documents yet, is working as a nightclub dancer. She does not feel hopeful about her asylum application because she is worried that no one will believe her story. Furthermore, she despairs over ever being able to bring her young son to the United States since she fears that they will jail him at the border.
- What sort of information do you need that would help you understand Anna’s case better?
- How might Anna be at continued risk for human rights violations?
- What exposures to trauma-inducing experiences are affecting Anna? How might professionals working with immigrant and refugee populations emphasize positive adaptive skills/resilience that focus on individual and family strengths?
- What other community resources might be helpful in Anna’s situation?
- Discuss the importance of coordinating and integrating different community services for supporting immigrant and refugee resettlement.