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It is fair to say that all refugees have gone through some kind of trauma.   The trauma of leaving their war-torn regions and the trauma involved in moving to another country as a refugee are life altering realties that are traumatic.   For those who re-settle to the developed world, there is trauma in that, too.

Responding to the trauma of a refugee requires patience, compassion, empathy, sensitivity and understanding.  

Often, the behavior and lack of motivation among refugees is a result of trauma – that can re-wire the brain.

Here are five ways to respond effectively as you relate to those who have gone through trauma:

  1. Show empathy and compassion: Express genuine care and concern for the refugee’s experiences and emotions. Let them know that you are there to support them through their difficult times.

  2. Listen actively and non-judgmentally: Create a safe space for the refugee to share their stories and feelings. Listen without interrupting or imposing your own judgments.

  3. Respect cultural differences: Be mindful of cultural sensitivities and differences. Recognize that their trauma may be shaped by unique cultural experiences and perspectives.  This is crucial as cultures have  different ways to respond to traumatic events.  

  4. Provide practical assistance: Offer practical help with everyday challenges, such as accessing resources, navigating bureaucratic systems, or finding language support, to ease their transition.

  5. Encourage professional support: Suggest seeking professional help from counselors, therapists, or support groups who are experienced in working with refugees and trauma. Professional assistance can aid in the healing process.

  6. Offer to pray together.  Prayer can offer encouragement,  hope and support -even if the refugee is from a different religion than your own. 

Remember, the healing process for trauma can be lengthy and complex, so patience and ongoing support are crucial in helping refugees recover and rebuild their lives.

Where can you start?

Trauma healing experts suggest  3 questions to someone is hurting.   

  • What happened?
  • How did it make you feel?
  • What was the hardest part for you?

It is important to listen and don’t feel you have to respond to everything that is said.    Also, take some time to watch the video below that is on our web site to be informed and educated on trauma.

By Joel Vestal  (August 4, 2023)

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