About Trigger Warnings

Upcoming Holidays

October
10/22 – 10/29 Preparation for All Hallows’ Eve
10/31 Halloween/Samhain/All Hallows Eve
There are two previous posts on Halloween:

https://ritualabuse.wordpress.com/2016/10/11/halloween/

https://ritualabuse.wordpress.com/2011/10/02/samhainhalloween/

November
11/S Full Moon
11/3 Satanic Revels
11/23 Thanksgiving
December
12/3 Full Moon
12/21 St. Thomas’ Day/Fire Festival
12/21 Yule/Winter Solstice
12/24  Christmas Eve/Satanic and demon revels/Da Meur/Grand High Climax
12/15  Christmas Day
12/31 New Year’s Eve
Important dates in Nazi groups
11/9 Kristallnacht
11/11 Veteran’s Day: Armistice, 1918

 

About Trigger Warnings

I know Halloween is fast approaching; it’s just around the corner. Part of me says that I should be writing about it because there are so many people who are suffering as they remember what happened during this season. The two major Satanic holidays are Beltane and Halloween, and I believe that Betane is organized around sex and Halloween around death. To me, death is far worse than sex . . . as long as sex does not culminate in death. So the memories of Halloween are horrible and the feelings are so intense that they are nearly unbearable.

But I have already written about Halloween.  I don’t think I could write anything as useful as those posts and there is something else on my mind. So I am only going to acknowledge the importance of Halloween and write about the pros and cons of trigger warnings.

First, how “trigger” is defined. It varies from person to person and time to time. I find it helpful to distinguish the ways it is used in everyday speech.

1. “Triggered” means being upset. There are many, many things that upset us, and most have nothing to do with cults. War, famine, storms, fire, dishonesty, abuse of power, and cruelty of all types. All of these things upset me, sometimes to the point of thinking that the world would be a lot better off without any people.

Now it is impossible to write about ritual abuse without upsetting people – at least people who have not dissociated and walled off their feelings. I should then, according to this definition, use a trigger warning  each time I write about, or even mention, ritual abuse.

2. “Triggered” means that something has elicited a memory. The memory may be just a glance at part of a past experience, a slight sound, or a whiff of a smell. Or it may be full-blown, as vivid as it was originally and accompanied by extremely strong emotions. The memory may be accompanied by switching, as one alter cannot bear to experience the whole flashback.

If people think that what they are about to say may bring up memories in others, they are apt to use trigger warnings. They would feel feel guilty if they learned they had triggered somebody, even inadvertently.

3. “Triggered” means acting on a post-hypnotic suggestion. If the relationship between the stimulus and the action is unconscious, one usually automatically does what the cult wants. If one is tempted to act but can resist the temptation, the link is usually conscious. Gestures, combinations of words, a series of numbers, a song, or an object may all be used.. For example, if the cult wants a person to go to a certain place, they may flash a series of hand signals, or may wear a necklace with special significance.

Although situation number three is the most dangerous of the three, it is less apt to be given a trigger warning than the first two. This may be because cues are not given  innocently. Even if they are given unconsciously, one part of the system is cult-loyal and knows what is going on. Using a trigger warning would draw attention to the cues and defeat the whole purpose.

 

I use “upset” for meaning #1, “triggered” for meaning # 2, and “cued” for meaning # 3. It helps me think clearly.

So much for the use of the word “trigger”. Now on to trigger warnings.

At first, the warning was called a spoiler or spoiler warning. This came from giving away the ending of a book or movie. It didn’t seem to be a totally accurate description and “trigger warning” soon came to replace it. Next, a description of what one was going to talk about was added. (“Trigger warning” or “may trigger”. . .. for talk of sex.)  Then a long blank space was utilized in the body pf the post so that people didn’t glance at the text by mistake and get triggered. That’s pretty much the way things are today.

Different survivor groups have different customs. Some are pretty lax about trigger warnings, others will hold a post or letter until the moderator feels that the trigger warning is adequate. Some groups feel that they can identify enough cues so that they can exclude people who are dangerous.

Now I don’t ask people to use any trigger warnings, and haven’t for years. I feel that anything a person can say might trigger a memory in somebody at some time. It’s impossible to protect everybody in a group all the time. Realizing this, many members of the group walk on egg shells every time they write something.

I think that a better system is to ask each person to be responsible for their own actions. I am sure that this is not the first time that the person has had a flashback, and they have experienced what is helpful and what is not.If they are upset or go into flashback, I ask them to seek support from friends, their therapist, or a hot line if needed. Journalling can help, and soothing objects or routines can help keep one foot in the present. Knowing that they are considered to be capable adults give people confidence and strength.

I do not forbid the use of trigger warnings. If a person feels better using them, I would not take away that support. I often suspect that if a group member uses trigger warnings, it is for the benefit of parts of their system, not the other group members. And if somebody slips into guilt if they have triggered another, that is understandable. I’ve done this myself, embarrassing myself immensely.

This approach has worked well in the groups I have moderated. I think it is starting to become the norm in the comments section here. Anybody have feelings about whether we should use trigger warnings, and under what circumstances? I’m open to all points of view.