The potential role of network-oriented interventions for survivors of sexual and gender-based violence among asylum seekers in Belgium

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Emilomo Ogbe, Alaa Jbour, Ladan Rahbari, Maya Unnithan, Olivier Degomme


BackgroundSocial support and social network members have been identified as an important factor in mitigating the effects of sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) and improving the coping process for many survivors. Network oriented strategies have been advocated for among domestic violence survivors, as they help build on improving social support and addressing factors that alleviate repeat victimization. There are opportunities to implement such strategies among asylum seekers who are survivors of SGBV in asylum centres, however, this has not been fully explored. This study sought to identify key strategies and opportunities for developing peer-led and network-oriented strategies for mitigating the effects of SGBV among asylum seekers at these centres.MethodsTwenty-seven interviews, were conducted with service providers (n =14) / asylum seekers (n =13) at three asylum centres in Belgium. A theoretical model developed by the research team from a literature review and discussions with experts and stakeholders, was used as a theoretical framework to analyse the data. An abduction approach with qualitative content analysis was used by the two researchers to analyse the data. Data triangulation was done with findings from observations at these centres over a period of a year.ResultsMany of the asylum seekers presented with PTSD or psychosomatic symptoms, because of different forms of SGBV, including intimate partner violence, or other trauma experienced during migration. Peer and family support were very influential in mitigating the effects and social costs of violence among the asylum seekers by providing emotional and material support. Social assistants were viewed as an information resource that was essential for most of the asylum seekers. Peer-peer support was identified as a potential tool for mitigating the effects of SGBV.ConclusionInterventions involving asylum seekers and members of their network (especially peers), have the potential for improving physical and mental health outcomes of asylum seekers who are SGBV survivors.




Olivier Degomme

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