What Not to Do When Your Friend is Triggered

I have one friend who really doesn’t handle things well when I get triggered. Ironically, he’s involved in preventing sexual assault. I guess he just has some more to learn about supporting people once it’s already happened. Here are a few examples:

We were arguing over the location of a muscle. He thought it was on the side of the ribs so he tried to point it out on my body. I locked my arms down tight (because getting touched on the side of the ribs is the worst trigger of mine) and he tried to push them out of the way. I stammered, feeling overwhelmed and helpless. I suddenly walked away saying “excuse me” and sat on my bed with my head in my hands, trying to regain control. My boyfriend came in to comfort me and soon enough I was okay again. Later that night, my roommate (who was standing next to us when it happened) apologized for not doing anything when I was triggered.

Another time he triggered me is when he picked me up during a hug, and his arm was way up by my armpit. I squirmed and told him to put me down, mentioning that I was feeling triggered. I curled up on the floor, still on my feet, and took a moment to breathe. I’m pretty sure he apologized but then he just walked away.

In both of these examples, my friend has known that he triggered me. He apologized only once (I appreciate the gesture even though my response is always “It’s not your fault. It was an accident.”) and he’s never asked if I was okay. I’ve told him multiple times that I get triggered when touched on the side of the ribs and he hasn’t changed his behavior. Even though he gives amazing hugs that feel like vertical cuddles, I’ve stopped hugging him because it’s no longer worth the risk. The only person who’s triggered me more than this friend is my boyfriend. I think he triggered me more often because we’re around each other much more often and accidents can happen during sexytimes. Anyway, there are worse ways to respond to triggers, but my friend’s apathetic response really bothers me. If you have a friend who is a survivor, show that that you care and are there for them when they get triggered. This article may also help you help your friend when they get triggered.

Thank you for reading this article. You can find my backstory here.

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