Figuring Out Triggers

About four months ago I started getting triggered a lot.

I remember long ago when I first started being triggered a lot and was dealing with a lot of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder symptoms. I didn’t even really know what triggers were and didn’t have the foggiest idea what kind of things were triggering me into flashbacks.

I was going to therapy, but that was often not very helpful with the everyday struggles of being a child sexual abuse survivor. I guess that topic is a book in itself. I soon started looking for other information elsewhere.

I started reading a lot of books about being a survivor of child sexual abuse. Sometimes reading about other survivors could be one long trigger. I slowly started understanding about triggers. They were sometimes seemingly inocuous words, topics, pictures, sounds, smells, etc that packed an imposing negative punch upon my psyche, life, and functioning.

Sometimes they were things that were obviously triggers.They always related back to incidents of abuse and my childhood. Many of those incidents were still repressed, so it was often a challenge to see and perceive the connections. Slowly I started getting better and better at that. You can’t always limit your exposure to triggers, but you learn new coping skills and you keep working on healing, and it started getting better as I continued to heal.

Sometimes being with other survivors can cause triggers. They share about what they are going through, stories about their abuse, and how they are feeling, coping, and not coping. It can also be tremendously healing being with other survivors.

Sometimes you are so frozen inside and so repressed that a group can be triggering. You can go home exhausted, frightened, anxious, and phobic about everything. It’s only been years later where all the triggers from those times become apparent.

I’ve gotten better at identifying triggers and learning what I can do to manage that and what things I need to avoid because they are just too triggering. The more flashbacks that I have the more my triggers are explained. But also the more flashbacks I have the more potential triggers seem to emerge.

Being a multiple brings a lot of added layers to life and when we are being triggered. It is an odd thing for me to try to explain what a multiple system trigger feels like for us. The easiest way for me to describe it is that it is like you feel triggered by something and then you feel a tunnel going deep inside you, into the system, and you feel the emotions of a bunch of them as they are being triggered.

Figuring it out can be hard. Sometimes you get a delayed reaction from a trigger object and sometimes you get an immediate reaction. Sometimes it’s obvious what is the trigger, but you just don’t want to admit it.

So I had to limit my exposure to some things until I figured out what was really going on. It took me months to figure out what was going on. But really the system told me what was triggering them right away. I just didn’t want to admit it. I thought it couldn’t be that simple. It seemed to spread and spread, so much so that I wasn’t able to read some blogs and some posts, for a time, like I used to be able to. Everything  seemed to become one giant trigger. I thought the inners didn’t really understand or know about these things. But they did. They understood right away what they were going through, and the reasons they were being triggered.

I’m doing so much better now. I learned a really important thing through this process. It is okay to be a survivor who gets triggered and it is okay to admit you have limitations and to take steps to make your life safer by limiting exposure to some triggers. It is okay if some people understand and some people don’t. And it’s okay to take the best care of yourself(ves) as you can.

Survivor Resource Pages (Forty pages of resources, non-profit organizations, articles, and healing support for survivors of child sexual abuse, rape, sexual assault, domestic violence, and dealing with the aftermath of child sexual abuse.)

Triggers and Flashbacks

Child Abuse and Triggers

Child Abuse Triggers and Dissociation Part 1

Child Abuse Triggers and Dissociation Part 2

2 thoughts on “Figuring Out Triggers

  1. Keep up the hard work, Sweetie. I don’t pretend to even know what you have survived but I know life is worth living. I know love is worth having and joy is worth fighting for. I know giving up is allowing the abuser, in whatever form, to reign in the world. And we cannot allow that! By definition, a survivor is strong and clever and wise and durable. I absolutely know we need more of that in this world!

    Friend of a survivor, Granny


    • Hi Granny,

      Thanks! Strong and clever and wise and durable, I like that. You are right, joy is worth fighting for. I am glad that I have a much better handle on triggers and how to avoid some of them that I can’t manage and how to manage some of them that I can. Thanks so much for your support and kind words.

      So proud that you are my friend. Good and healing thoughts to you.



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