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Hurting People Need Friends to 'Offer Refuge'

Christian trauma expert Dr. Jamie Aten notes, "When our friends and loved ones are impacted by violence and mass trauma it can leave us feeling helpless, cause us to 'freeze' up, or say things we wouldn't normally say," often relying on harmful clichés. Dr. Aten claims that the best thing we can do is summed up in two words: "offer refuge." He explains:

Some examples of how you can serve as a refuge include listening with acceptance, being present in your helping, and giving the gift of connection … I learned the importance of refuge from a Hurricane Katrina research study my team and I conducted just weeks after the storm made landfall. I'll never forget the evacuation experience one of the survivors we interviewed shared. He described trying to escape from his home along the coast by car. However, as he tried to drive away the winds and rain grew stronger. He quickly started to loose visibility. He knew he wasn't going to be able to go much farther.
About the time panic started to set in he saw something moving just ahead off the side of the road. A neighbor he'd never met before was standing outside in the pouring rain and howling wind with a homemade particleboard sign with the words "STOP HERE" spray-painted on it. Rather than continue alone on his journey, the man turned into his neighbors drive and found a safe haven.

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