A big hole with the wind blowing through it: Aboriginal women’s experiences of trauma and problem gambling

Abstract

Although studies have shown a link between social trauma and problem gambling (PG), there is little research involving Aboriginal women in this area, despite Aboriginal women being potentially at higher risk for both social trauma and problem gambling. This article describes the results of a qualitative phenomenology study asking seven Aboriginal women living in Western Canada to describe their experiences of social trauma and gambling problems. Results suggest four main themes, describing: (1) the Aboriginal women's experiences of social trauma (‘the three tigers’); (2) their use of gambling to cope with these experiences (‘a big hole with the wind blowing through it’); (3) their experience of problem gambling (‘I'm somebody today’); and (4) their process of healing from social trauma and gambling problems (‘a letter to John’). Participants described what they felt was a clear link between social trauma and problems with gambling, and how gambling helped to change their mood and block out the past. The results raise the possibility that Aboriginal women with gambling problems may need support to heal from social trauma – including racism and colonization – and that upstream initiatives to reduce the incidence of social traumas may be an important response to problem gambling among Aboriginal women.

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