Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Document Type



Faculty of Arts and Sciences



Date of Original Version

October 2022


As a result of a tragic event, the Cambodian Genocide, many Cambodians were forced to flee to the United States for safety as refugees (Dinh, Weinstein, Kim, & Ho, 2008). Little research has been done to study the type of trauma that refugees go through, and how it affects their ability to live a normal life afterwards. Past literature has looked at war trauma in refugees by studying the overall mental health of Cambodian refugees, 20 years after resettlement in the United States (Marshall et al., 2005). The current study built on the study by Marshall et al. and examined how participants have prevailed after experiencing war trauma. This study recruited 15 Cambodian refugees now living in the United States to explore topics related to refugee trauma and resiliency. The main research question in this study is: How does trauma experienced by Cambodian refugees that went through the Khmer Rouge affect life after migration, and how does resiliency play a role? Participants were interviewed using a semi-structured qualitative interviewing method. Grounded theory was used to analyze the interview data. The results indicated that the traumatic events of the Cambodian Genocide stayed with participants longterm, but participants’ resiliency was visible through their ability to survive after migration to the U.S. This study’s findings suggest that the mental health resources for refugees are lacking and that there are cultural barriers between counselors and refugees that are preventing them from getting improved treatment.