While every immigration journey bringing new residents to New Jersey is different, there is usually a lot of stress involved. Some people may have trauma from events that led them to decide to leave their home country. Then there is the immigration journey and then the integration process as migrants settle in their new homes. Throughout this difficult experience, many people come to find they are struggling to cope with the realities of immigration trauma. One of the first obstacles can be understanding what has happened, what is happening and how to move forward.
Understanding what immigration trauma is
Every migrant has their own immigration story and the events they’ve faced feel different for them. However, there is a lot of common ground for the events and trauma experienced. For example, many migrants experience the trauma of feeling a loss of identity after leaving their homes and communities. Some have experienced violence that led to their immigration experience, some experience violence along the journey and some experience violence in their new homes. Racial prejudice in their new home can be traumatic. Other experiences that can cause trauma include the lack of stability as migrants build a new life, a lack of resources to help them cope and a sense of uncertainty.
Finding the right balance of access to a person’s heritage culture and host culture can help. The right balance will look different for everyone. Some people may benefit from regular online calls to friends and family who still live in their home country. Family reunification can make a big difference. Others may benefit from having the same foods at home or decorating their space. In the host culture, learning the language and aspects of daily life can be empowering and gradually help with healing and coping.
There are support and resources that can help with basic services, employment, mental health care, and social support that will help with the trauma and new obstacles ahead. Religious organizations often offer assistance. So do community outreach programs.