Dealing with Triggers
© 2006 Pandora’s Aquarium
By: Stefka

One meaning of the word trigger, from, is "anything, as an act or event, that serves as a stimulus and initiates or precipitates a reaction or series of reactions." For survivors who were once victims of rape or sexual abuse, a trigger can be anything that reminds us of what happened: a scent, sound, a certain person or song, a time of day, a color. Triggers can have the effect of making us feel uncomfortable or causing panic attacks or flashbacks. Here are some suggestions for dealing with triggers.

•Firstly be prepared – knowing that you are likely to be triggered helps you to feel more in control when it happens, you can also plan your response and even see it as an opportunity for healing.

•Be reassured that your feelings are normal – triggers are upsetting for us all and your response is a normal reaction after the trauma you experienced

•Plan distractions – do things you enjoy, go for a walk or watch a funny film – anything you feel like doing that will distract you from what has triggered you.

•Remember you are safe – ground yourself – try tapping your foot on the floor, or doing simple maths or spelling.

•Do your best to nurture yourself – what makes you happy, relaxed and good about yourself – perhaps learn some relaxation techniques (breathing exercises often help me). Keep yourself warm and eat and sleep as well as you can. You are worth taking care of.

•Make use of Pandora's Aquarium or other support groups – use the board to post about whatever has been brought up by being triggered – other people will no doubt relate and may be able to offer suggestions


Pandora's Aquarium - An online support group, message board, and chat room for rape and sexual abuse survivors.