Trauma and Getting Triggered: Keeping Ourselves Safe

Trauma and Getting Triggered: Keeping Ourselves Safe

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I’m concerned for the survivors of sexual trauma and abuse, and the potentiality of getting triggered

simply by watching the news, or scrolling through Facebook or Twitter feeds. I’m wary of the media and the backlash from the recent Steubenville rape trial. It’s easy for that trauma to rise, presenting itself as fury and heightened emotions. It’s easy to slip back into the story of your own trauma, reliving moment-by-moment that which haunts you.

Signs of being triggered can include:

  • Angry outbursts
  • Flashbacks
  • Feeling emotionally numb or closed off
  • Avoiding certain areas, or subjects
  • Anxiety: tightness in the chest or throat, feelings of panic, et cetera.

Sometimes, we can feel tempted to continue to watch the news or read the feeds despite feeling triggered, believing we “should” be able to watch these things and be ok. It’s in the past, after all. Right? Wrong. The trouble with trauma is this: our bodies can’t always tell the difference between time and space. When we get triggered, we are often thrust back into that moment of trauma, sometimes too fast to stop ourselves. Over time, and with deep work, we can learn to recognize our bodies’ signals and responses to a trigger and take steps to stop it in its tracks or at least hold a safe space for it to just “be.” EMDR, DBT, CBT and TF-CBT are all useful therapeutic modalities for treating trauma. Additionally, yoga, meditation, and mindfulness practices are helpful in getting the “issues out of our tissues” as Tommy Rosen likes to say.

If you find that you are getting triggered from newsfeeds and current events, please:

  • Unplug
  • Step away from technology
  • Talk to someone and ask for help.
  • Surround yourself with safe people.
  • Take a lot of deep breaths.
  • If you practice yoga, this is a good time to get on your mat. A gentle practice of breath and movement can guide you back to the present moment.
  • Be of service. Helping others gets us out of ourselves and into action.

Yes, it can be tremendously debilitating when a trigger occurs, but you are not alone. There are people around you who will help you without judgment. You are safe now.

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