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Where traumatised women and men find help

The GMAC offers comprehensive counselling.

Where traumatised women and men find help

Opening up, speaking about your experiences and gaining confidence: a GMAC workshop gave returnees the opportunity to do just that. It also included discussion of trauma and gender-specific challenges.

Where traumatised women and men find help

It can often be easier to generate trust and talk about your background in a small group. The fact that there were only 10 of them probably helped the participants at a 2-day GMAC workshop to open up. The 6 women and 4 men had one thing in common: they had all recently returned to Iraq from Europe. Most of them had suffered many negative experiences abroad, which they now needed to process.

Helping people to help themselves

They didn’t exchange their personal stories until the second day of the workshop at the Coral Palace Hotel in Baghdad. Participants were first of all given knowledge to help them deal with difficult situations during the new start in their home country. This involved talking about gender-specific prejudice and gender-based violence. They learned for instance how to identify abuse and report it to the relevant authorities in Iraq. They also learned how they can protect themselves from physical and social harm.

Processing your own experiences

The participants’ personal stories often involved huge loss, dashed hopes and a return to Iraq to face an uncertain future. Economic and social integration abroad was impossible for them, even though they’d given up so much to achieve it. Some of them even reported that they’d experienced violence abroad.

Back in Iraq, they were worried about their career prospects until they came across the services provided by the GMAC. The women and men were able to talk about all of this in the workshop – in separate groups and in a trusting environment. “Exchanging information about what they’d experienced and discussing it helped them to reduce their stress levels. The participants know that we’re there to support them”, explains the lead advisor.

The centre provides help – both psychosocial and occupational

The GMAC supports returnees and the local population in many ways. The team includes experts in mental health and psychosocial support, for example. Experience indicates that returnees in particular are often traumatised and need this counselling. Anyone who has experienced or is experiencing violence can also turn to the GMAC team.


In addition to helping people to process their past, the GMAC also helps people to build a future for themselves in Iraq. You can for instance contact the GMAC if you’re interested in starting a business or if you want to expand your business. You can also ask for advice if you’re looking for a job or apprenticeship.

The GMAC can also refer returnees to its partner organisations. These include several that offer specialist psychological support. One of them is the Women Empowerment Organisation (WEO), which was jointly involved in setting up the workshop.

The GMAC is open to everyone

No matter whether you’re male or female, a returnee or from the local population: “Our door is open to everyone seeking advice. We’re prepared to help anyone”, according to the GMAC. The only precondition is that anyone seeking help must reach out to the centre themselves. The GMAC also sees it as important to reach women in particular with its services: “We want to help more women to protect themselves. They should learn how to stand up for themselves in scary situations.” More workshops are planned for the future. At least one of them is intended to take place in cooperation with the WEO again.

As of: 03/2023

This text is written in simple language to ensure that it’s easy for everyone to understand.

Our door is open to everyone seeking advice. We’re prepared to help anyone.

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