The Combined Effects of Trauma and Immigration on Portuguese Female Immigrants

Fatima Barbosa
Psychology, Massachusetts School of Professional Psychology - UNITED STATES, 2005
May, 2005
Doctoral thesis


The purpose of this project was to understand the combined effects of trauma histories and immigration stress for women from Portugal. For the purposes of this study, trauma was defined as childhood abuse (physical, sexual, emotional or neglect) and/or adult interpersonal violence (rape and/or domestic violence). Through the use of narrative inquiry, this research aimed to identify areas of psychological functioning affected by both trauma and immigration. Areas included the disintegration and/or development of sense of self revealed in narrative interviews with research participants, as well as their post-traumatic symptomatology, and their emerging understandings of self, other, and world.

The project sought to understand if the process of immigration, including multiple losses such as family, friends, familiarity, security, and culture, was experienced as retraumatizing given their trauma histories, thus affecting any of the above areas of functioning. This study aimed to provide an understanding of Portuguese women's traumatic experiences and the re-victimization of the immigration process for a generally understudied population.

Five Portuguese women over the age of eighteen were interviewed using the Multidimensional Trauma and Resiliency Scale and Interview (MTRR-I), developed by Mary Harvey and associates. The in-depth structured interview was translated by this investigator from English to Portuguese for the purposes of this study. These women had a history of trauma and immigrated from Portugal to the United States in search of economic and/or educational opportunities. This study utilized a qualitative, exploratory approach to better understand the data produced using methods of narrative inquiry.