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After another mass shooting in America, these survivors stand ready to help the victims’ families

Sandy Phillips says every single time there’s another mass shooting in the US, her mind runs back to the moment she received the dreaded news nearly nine years ago — that her daughter was among 12 people killed in the Aurora theater shooting.

“It takes us back to the moments and the hours and the days following the phone call that we got,” she told CNN’s Anderson Cooper on Monday night.

And Phillips is not alone.

“I’ve heard from dozens of survivors today who are back down on their knees, being re-traumatized by what they’re hearing on the news and it’s one of those moments — like we had last week — that continues to replay itself in America,” she said.

In less than a week, two mass shootings have shaken the nation: Eight people were killed at Atlanta-area spas and days later,10 people were killed at a Boulder, Colorado, supermarket.

They are also among at least seven mass shootings in the past week across the United States.

Other survivors ready to help

Usually, Phillips travels with her husband to mass shooting sites to connect with others who have just lost loved ones. Together they created the Survivors Empowered network, to console and guide other survivors of gun violence.

But this year, she told CNN, that has been harder to do because of the pandemic.

“We aren’t responding like we normally would,” she said. “Normally, we would be on an airplane or in our RV and going to the next tragedy and reaching out to the people there.”

Now, Phillips says she hopes she is able to get the message out to the survivors of the Boulder and Atlanta shootings that her organization is here and ready to help however they can.

“We already have trauma therapists for them, we already have people on the ground that can reach out to them and console them as best as possible but also let them know what’s ahead.”

“I hope these people hear about us so we can offer our services,” she said.

Many know what comes next

Because she’s lived through it herself, Phillips says she knows all too well what the coming weeks will look like for those who lost a loved one.

“They’re in shock, they’re not going to be getting a whole lot of information,” she said. “Hopefully the police departments and the DA’s office and all of the people that are involved will start reaching out to them and making sure that they have the assistance that they need.”

“But it’s not the same as having a survivor who has lived through it help them through it,” she added.

Phillips says the group tries to communicate to survivors what they can expect in the next days, weeks, months — and years — and assist them in how to define a new normal, “which is very far from normal,” Phillips says.

“Even for myself, I mean we’ve been doing this for almost nine years now and here we are going through the same pain because we know what they’re going through,” she said.

“It is never, ever an easy process.”

Article Topic Follows: National-World

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