I’m certainly not going to respond to every misinformed misogynist who attacks me on Tumblr or elsewhere on the Internet, but I think this may be informative for those who have never heard about ‘triggers’. Perhaps you’ve seen a ‘trigger warning’ on a blog or video, but you didn’t know what it was. Or perhaps you’ve heard the word ‘triggers’ and you think you know what it means, but you really don’t know what the hell you are talking about.
I recently posted a video where Anita Sarkeesian from Feminist Frequency talks about being attacked by a misogynistic cyber mob. I mentioned that while the video was definitely worth watching, I was no longer able to do so, because it triggered my stress disorder caused by the online misogyny and harassment I deal with on a daily basis. I actually used the word “panic”, as I wasn’t sure if I was ready to ‘come out’ about how much the abuse has affected me.
I know the cyber mob watches everything I do. They take great joy in my pain and every opportunity to mock me. They will use this to mock too.
Some helpful Tumblr commenter informed me that, “Everyone knows that mean words can’t cause trigger effects. Attention Whore.” Emphasis mine.
As absurd as that statement is, I’m going to address it. Almost anything can be a trigger, including just a memory, which is often the case for me. Rather than me telling you what I think a trauma trigger is, I’m going to good ol’ Wikipedia, because I thought it gave a pretty thorough definition:
“A trauma trigger is an experience that triggers a traumatic memory in someone who has experienced trauma. A trigger is thus a troubling reminder of a traumatic event, although the trigger itself need not be frightening or traumatic.
Triggers can be quite diverse, appearing in the form of individual people, places, noises, images, smells, tastes, emotions, animals, films, scenes within films, dates of the year, tones of voice, body positions, bodily sensations, weather conditions, time factors, or combinations thereof. Triggers can be subtle and difficult to anticipate, and can sometimes exacerbate post-traumatic stress disorder, a condition in which trauma survivors cannot control the recurrence of emotional or physical symptoms, or of repressed memory. A trauma trigger may also be referred to as a trauma stimulus or a trauma stressor.”