A Word on Trauma and Listening

Judith Herman in her work, Trauma and Recovery, says, “No intervention that takes power away from the survivor can possibly foster her recovery, no matter how much it appears to be in her immediate best interest.”

This is why listening to another person’s story or experience of trauma without judging it is important. Sometimes the first expression of a survivor’s power is the strength and courage to give their experience a voice. When we demean, dismiss, or devalue another’s voiced-experience we take their power away and perpetuate their trauma.

So whether it be racial trauma, or other forms of societal trauma, or personal/individual trauma, let’s commit to listening well.

De-center yourself. Resist the urge to justify another person’s experience. Resist the urge to pacify or qualify their story. Just listen. Be with them in their story. Consider it an honor to read it (if social media) or hear it (if across the table). Hold it close. Don’t feel the need to “identify” with it. Just hold it. If on social media, don’t even feel the need to comment beyond, “Thank you for sharing.”

In doing so, you are creating space where healing becomes just a little more possible for them–for all of us.

And for the record I am still learning to how to listen, too.

About Fred

I am a follower of Jesus, husband and father. I am a son, brother, friend, multi-vocational pastor with Williamsburg Christian Church, TEDx alum, ethnographer, community organizer, published author, founder and president of 3e Restoration Inc, and adjunct professor at Rochester University and Regent University. I received my B.S. in Ministry/Bible at Amridge University and my Masters of Religious Education in Missional Leadership (MREML) from Rochester University. I am currently working toward my Doctorate of Ministry in Contextual Theology at Northern Seminary.
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3 Responses to A Word on Trauma and Listening

  1. K. Rex Butts says:

    I have found this to be true when it comes to dealing with grief and pain. So many times people want to say something to make it better but words will never do this. Just say “I’m sorry” or “Thank you for sharing” and listen.


  2. Pingback: Do Good, Not Harm | Inside This Guys Head

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