I was watching a popular period drama on tv the other day when I was badly triggered by an unexpected sexual assault happening to a fan favorite out of nowhere. I could write an entire post on how that episode made me feel and maybe I will at some point…maybe I won’t but I’ve found myself looking at the word “trigger”.
Here’s my random thought about this word: for those of us who have been sexually abused and either doubt ourselves or don’t have complete memories yet…when we say “I was triggered by (insert phrase here)”…aren’t we saying that something happened to us? If I say that I was triggered by A B C or D doesn’t that mean that on some level I’ve had an experience that was real, even if it’s not the exact situation depicted in whatever triggered me? Isn’t that an admission that something (whatever is was) actually happened?
I’m not asking an actual question that requires a yes or no response, it’s more of a…thought that occurred to me.
I can watch many things happen to characters in movies or tv shows or read about them in books and I won’t be emotionally affected by them. No painful experience, no trigger. But every once in a while something I read or see will gut me and leave me reeling, sometimes for hours or days. And I can’t help but ask myself, why is that if nothing happened to you?
As I wrote previously I’m past doubting myself now but when I’m triggered I wonder if there is information there somewhere. I think that an average person who has not been sexually abused can most definitely be disturbed by something they see or read but I doubt that they have the same reactions that a victim/survivor would have. Does that then make me a victim/survivor? It makes sense to me.