Perhaps one of the most stressful things can be leaving your home and everything you know and becoming a refugee. One of the most stressful aspect of resettling as a refugee is the changing roles in the family. Fathers, mothers, youth, young children, and the elderly all find that life in the United States can change their relationships with one another. This is a normal part of resettlement, but it can create difficulties at first. Both men and women may have difficulty adjusting to the roles of men and women in the United States. Americans believe in equality of the sexes and value self-sufficiency and independence for both men and women.
In many families both the husband and the wife work, and they share childcare responsibilities. And some families, when both parents are working, the wife earns more than a husband. In other families, the wife has found a job and the husband has not. In this case the husband will be expected to care for the children when they are not in school. In situations like these, refugee men often feel a loss of their leadership role in the family. Refugee women may feel a new found confidence but also a sense of guilt.
Resettlement can be very difficult for young people, especially teenagers, because they must adjust to life and a new culture at the same time they are expected to maintain the traditional way of life at home and in their communities. And they must do this at a time when they are facing changes as they grow from adolescence to young adulthood.
Because they often learn English faster than their parents young people may be asked to act as interpreters for their parents and take on other new responsibilities. Often they must go to school and to hold a job. Their parents can feel unable to help them because of their own limited understanding of the US school system. And teens often feel they cannot communicate and the stress they feel to their parents.
When the stress has become too great, some young people turn to harmful behaviors, such as being absent from school, joining a gang, or using drugs. These behaviors can lead to more problems because they are illegal for unmarried girls, harmful behaviors can lead to pregnancy.
Changing roles are also stressful for the elderly, who may feel that they have lost their former status as sources of knowledge and experience in the family. In the United States, the emphasis on youth and productivity can make the elderly feel ignored and useless. The difficulties of learning a new language and the new culture can lead to feelings of isolation and loneliness. The elderly may find that they no longer
Hold a position of respect in their society. The economic challenges of being an elderly Refugee can be overwhelming. Some older refugees who are expected to retire and receive a pension may find themselves in need of employment especially if they’re under 65. Refugees over 65 may discover that the US retirement benefits are not what they expected, the disability benefits do not cover their medical expenses, and or that their families cannot support them
As they may have in their home countries these economic challenges, together with the loss of status and sense of isolation, can lead to depression and other mental health issues.
If you or if member of your family ever feel unable to cope with the stress of a new life in the United States, seek help immediately. Issues about new family rule should be openly discussed with your case manager. Your resettlement agency can locate resources to help you develop your coping skills and improve stressful situations at home. Resettlement is a long process. You may need to do five years to adjust fully to life in your new community. Try to be observant and nonjudgmental, and set goals for yourself. Honest communication, patience, and a cooperative attitude towards those trying to help will help greatly in your adjustment. It will also help to understand basic American values such as self-reliance independence. Discovering a new culture is challenging but it can’t be enriching and for filling
Unfortunately, domestic violence is more and more common in today’s society. Because such acts typically take place at home behind closed doors, many are hesitant to expose such wrongdoings for fear of self, children, or reputation. If you or someone you know is a victim of such violence, there are safe places you can contact and potentially stay at. There are also “hotlines” or phone numbers you can call for 24-hour assistance via telephone. Sometimes courage can save your life. it might only take a phone call.
OC Sheriff’s DV resources
OC DV hotline (24 hours)
Rape Crisis hotline
Farsi, Shelter and Services
Orange County Family Justice Center
150 W Vermont Ave, Anaheim, CA 92805
Legal Aid and Resources
Shelter and Services
Domestic violence Shelter
DV, foster, counseling services
Peace Over Violence
multiple LA locations
DV, sexual assault, stalking support and services
213-626-3393 (central LA), 310-392-8381 (south LA)
LA Police Department
LA LGBT Center
DV services specializing in LGBT
Alternatives to Domestic Violence
Crisis line, Services
Option House Inc
813 North D Street, San Bernardino, CA 92401