Getting Triggered in Public

The last few days have been a tiny bit rough for me in the mental health department. I’ll admit I’m partially responsible. I knew full well that what I think about before I fall asleep can set the tone for my mental health the next day. So going into an event yesterday afternoon, I knew that I needed to be a little cautious and take care of myself. The event had a positive tone to it, sure. It was a walk to honor survivors of sexual assault. Pretty uplifting.

Then a woman gets on stage to give a speech. She has been a rape survivor for one year and has been working her butt off to support survivors. Honestly, I like what she’s doing. I just don’t like how she does it. Last fall I went to an event of hers where people could tell their stories in a supportive environment. What I didn’t know is that whoever talks is “coming out” as a survivor. This is an anonymous blog for a reason. My name is not Kira. Sure, I’m open about my experiences in safe contexts (such as events about sexual assault where I know people will be supportive), but everywhere else my experiences are kept under wraps. She also used super heteronormative language at her event, which could be alienating people who don’t fit the stereotype of perpetrators/survivors or who don’t fit the gender binary.

The event I just discussed happened six months ago. She’s still using heteronormative language. What made things worse is that she told her story yesterday at an otherwise uplifting event with no trigger warning whatsoever. I’d heard it a few times before, but hearing her talk about the horrific details when I was in a less than stellar mental state was too much to handle. My eyes welled up with tears. I wanted to get the heck out of there so I could calm myself down, but I was frozen in my seat. No friends were nearby to help.

There were at least 100 people in that room and I have no doubt that some people noticed. It was super uncomfortable. I’m lucky that people probably weren’t judging me too hard. I mean, I was crying as someone told a story about rape. That’s not exactly surprising. But still, the last thing I want is to be that vulnerable and visibly upset in such a public place. And it was so unnecessary! If she had just given a quick trigger warning, I would’ve been able to duck out for a few minutes and avoid this whole mess.

I was upset enough that remembering my coping mechanisms was difficult. However, about fifteen minutes later I played a song connected to some very happy memories, and that brought me back to normal… almost.

I haven’t gotten triggered in public very often, and it’s never been as noticeable as it was yesterday. I’m usually able to cover it up decently unless I get tears in my eyes. I really hope I don’t have to go through something like that again…

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

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