PTSD Among Middle Eastern Refugees in California

Iranians protest in San Francisco. (Steve Rhodes: Flickr)

Iranians protest in San Francisco. (Steve Rhodes: Flickr)

California has resettled more Middle Eastern refugees over the past decade than any other state in the U.S. In Northern California, Santa Clara County is a resettlement hub for Middle Eastern refugees — more than 1,300 have moved there since 2006. The majority of these refugees are from Iran and Iraq, and many carry memories of past trauma with them.

Twenty-four year old Iraqi refugee Jasmine said she definitely brought her past memories with her to California. Jasmine (not her real name) and her family fled Iraq in 2006 after insurgents killed her father in a drive-by shooting. She said they escaped to Syria, then resettled in San Jose three years later.

“You left your home. You left the place that you belong to. Your people who loved there,” Jasmine said. “Sometimes I feel like everything for me after Iraq is different: the roads, the air, the dust. I know back home. The dust of back home. I know the air of back home.”

“What happened will remain like a scar inside yourself. Especially like we saw a lot of stuff not normal … Like people killed in front of your eye. I don’t believe I’m going to forget them.”

Jasmine said she was in survival mode in Iraq and experienced a delayed reaction to the stress of war. But when she did land in America, depression hit Jasmine hard.

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