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Trigger warnings


I’d like to discuss triggers and the importance of trigger warnings.

I personally define a trigger as something that raises my blood pressure, upsets me, and makes me start to have a panic attack or ratchets up my anxiety to a high level. Other people define triggers and what triggers them in different ways. Shakesville defines a trigger as:

Something that evokes memories or feelings of past trauma in survivors of violence, sexual assault, self-harm, and/or suicide ideation. Thus, a trigger warning is a note added to posts on behalf of those who have experienced trauma, who may wish to avoid or prepare themselves for potentially triggering content.

Trigger warnings on posts, news articles, journal articles and discussions are extremely important. I’m fortunate that I have very little that triggers me, but many people have a great deal of things that trigger them. I think trigger warnings are exactly that – warnings that something written might upset or offend or trigger some people. Essentially, for victims of any type of abuse or hate, reading something that triggers them, without the warning, can make them relive those incidences over and over again. It victimises them again.

I can remember being at university and viewing disturbing videos without warning in some classes. Considering what I studied, there really should have been more sensitivity towards those who may have been upset by the content on the videos. However, there were also classes that warned for disturbing content and gave the option for students who may be disturbed to leave the room.

It’s obviously not possible for warnings to be on everything, or expect people to preface everything they write with possible triggers. I’m not saying that people should be wrapped in cotton wool or completely sheltered from the goings on in the world. It’s not possible. But a person has a right to have their own safe space, free from victimisation and re-victimisation. It really does not take much to write a short sentence at the top of a column, post, article warning for disturbing content. The attitude of ‘hardening the fuck up’ is damaging to victims of crime, and, frankly, rather ableist.

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