JENNIFER LUDDEN, HOST:
Refugees often flee their home countries to escape violence or civil war. But for some, the U.S. hasn't been the haven they expected. Refugees in Idaho are recovering from a vicious stabbing attack earlier this summer that killed a 3-year-old girl and injured eight others. Boise State Public Radio's Amanda Peacher reports.
AMANDA PEACHER, BYLINE: Fatimah Abbood explains her wedding song to me.
(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)
PEACHER: It's all queued up on her phone.
FATIMAH ABBOOD: It's like, welcome Fatimah in with the people. They're just, like, come in and just get in your happiness with you and stuff.
PEACHER: Abbood's wedding was supposed to happen on July 1. She had everything ready the night before - lace and flowers on the table, trays and trays of baklava. But that evening, a transient man went on a stabbing rampage in the apartment complex where she used to live.
ABBOOD: The woman that got stabbed in her neck was our neighbor for, like, four years.
PEACHER: Some of the victims were invited to the wedding. Abbood and her fiance Alwaleed Abdullah decided to postpone the ceremony.
ALWALEED ABDULLAH: And we shouldn't celebrate while they're in the hospital, you know, suffering.
PEACHER: Both Abbood and Abdullah fled Iraq a few years ago. Back then, there was regular bombing and violence on the streets. Abbood's father was almost kidnapped twice. Many refugees have similar stories. So when violence happens in their new homes...
APRIL MASARIK: It's retraumatizing.
PEACHER: April Masarik is an assistant professor of psychological science at Boise State University.
MASARIK: You get to your place of refuge only to find out that you may not be safe.
PEACHER: People react differently to stress. So Masarik is careful not to make generalizations about refugees or immigrants.
MASARIK: Worst-case scenario, really, is that they live a life with the effects of the trauma every day. So this can be depressive symptoms, anxiety, hyper-vigilance.
PEACHER: The stress can also create physical symptoms.
NIDAA JASIM: I feel all my muscles, like all my body is hurting.
PEACHER: That's Iraqi refugee Nidaa Jasim (ph). Her family is close to some of the victims. She says the stabbing triggered past trauma.
JASIM: Which I think I'm not always - like, it's in the back of my head. Like, I come back whenever there's - something trigger it.
PEACHER: She gets flashbacks of the horror she fled from in Iraq - car bombs behind you as you drive to work, neighbors who disappear without a trace, murders on the street right in front of you.
JASIM: Bring something bad from the memory. People killing like this - this take me back, too, to what happened. Sorry. Is this happening here now?
PEACHER: Hate crimes against Muslims in the U.S. rose sharply from 2015 to 2016, according to a Pew Research analysis of FBI statistics. Boise Police said that there's no evidence that the suspect was specifically targeting refugees or Muslims. Jasim knows that, but there's still this question that haunts her.
JASIM: It's a guy - he has problems. But in my head, I'm like, but why all of them refugees?
PEACHER: Refugees in Boise have been supporting each other through the trauma. There are gatherings with the families of the victims where people share food and coffee and stories. Nidaa Jasim has been most focused on her elderly parents, who have been anxious since the attack.
JASIM: You know, when you focus on somebody else, you forget about yourself.
PEACHER: Jasim also points out that people who have experienced ongoing trauma are resilient and are used to supporting one another.
JASIM: If you live this kind of life, you have to help a person. Like, and this is why we are human. Like, you need to help each other.
PEACHER: For NPR News, I'm Amanda Peacher in Boise.
LUDDEN: This story came to us from the Mountain West News Bureau.
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