How to Be Supportive of Your Triggered Partner
Note: I am coming from a place of sexual related trauma. Therefore, some of my tips may be more suitable for triggers related to that or similar areas. However, I think most of the tips are general enough, or can be adapted to fit other types of trauma and triggers as well. It is less about the actual trauma that occurred in the past, and more about how to best deal with and be supportive of this in the present.
Triggers often come without warning. They can affect you for a brief moment, or they can have serious lasting affects for a few weeks. An event can be triggering, so can an image or a word, a look or a tone, an action or sound - essentially anything and everything could be a potential trigger for someone out there.
One can try and be prepared for potential triggers by doing a variety of things, such as having a “safe bag” with them at all times, containing little tokens or items that make one’s self feel more grounded or remind them of a happier time, for example. You can also practice different mindfulness techniques to soften these blows. However, it is very hard to prevent all potential triggers… unless you never leave your house, and even then, something there could still happen.
So how do we deal with this? And more importantly how does a loving partner deal with this? Living with triggers is bad enough, but having to see the person you care about and love the most relive or be reminded of a very traumatic event, moment, or time in there life is devastating in its own respect. It can bring on a sense of hopelessness, helplessness, and even cause tension or resentment in an otherwise healthy relationship. So that is where I would like to focus the rest of this post:on the partner.
You aren’t helpless, and things aren’t hopeless. And the tips I am going to share will be as good for you as they will be for your partner, trust me. First off, it is very important to remember not to lose your temper or patience with your triggered partner. This may seem like a no brainer at first, “Why would I get mad or upset with my partner when they are going through a difficult experience?”.
It’s okay. You can admit that this isn’t easy for you to deal with either. You don’t have to pretend to be superman or superwoman here. You don’t have to hide the moments when you are scared too. It’s important to feel these things and not repress them because if you do, they will otherwise reach their breaking point and implode at the worst time, like when you partner is triggered. So remember it is important to take care of yourself as well. That is in your own best interest, as well as your partner’s.
Another important thing to do is communicate with your partner - before they are triggered. Talk to them. Ask questions. And let them take their time responding. Your triggered partner will probably have a lot of valuable information to share with you in regards to what some good things are to do and not do when they have been triggered. It’s great to have ideas of your own as to what you think might be a good way to comfort them or otherwise show support, but run them by your partner just to be sure. There is nothing wrong with that. This is not about coming up with the most ideas, it’s about doing what works, and going about it in the best way. And sometimes, only your triggered partner may know the best way to do that. They will not only be grateful for your expressed care and vested interest in the safety/well-being, but for the fact that you have respected their requested wishes as well.
Please respect their boundaries and don’t take things personally. I cannot express how crucial and affecting these two things can be. This can be very difficult I know, but be assured that what they are going through is not about you. If they didn’t want to be with you, they wouldn’t. And they certainly would not have trusted and confided in you so much as to let you into this dark part of their life.
For example, if my partner and I are watching a show on the television, and something happens during a scene that triggers me, he will often reach out to touch me, as a way to show he is there. I know his intent is good, and I can stand it if his hand is just laying there rested on my arm, but I cannot explain to you how different of an experience this becomes if he beings to lightly graze over or stroke my arm. It is terrifying. The simple stimulation and sensation against my skin is deeply upsetting and I can’t stand it.
Also, if there is something visceral, relating to extreme sexualized violence against a woman for another example, I will often pull my knees up against my chest, rounding out my back to lean over and shield or “protect” myself. My partner used to respond to this by touching the small of my back, and would move his hand up along the middle of it, if my shirt was revealing some bare skin. He has since learned (and so have I) that this is another thing I do not respond well to. It feels very violating and frightening. Being touched on such a vulnerable and sensitive part of my body sets me off all over again.
I share these personal examples because they seem like such little details, little details that someone under normal circumstances would not think twice about. But we can’t forget these aren’t normal circumstances, and what happened to your partner was not normal. They know that you are trying to help, and they don’t hold these things against you personally, even if they do set them off once again, but it is important to learn from them, and don’t forget to remember the incident to ask questions and clarify at a later time.
One more important thing that I can suggest to show support for your triggered partner is to simply be there with them. Don’t retreat. Don’t hide. I mentioned earlier that it is okay to show your feelings, but if one of those instinctive feelings is to run away from your terrified partner, please try to stick it out with them. Remember, they don’t even have a choice as to whether or not they want to. There is nothing worse than experiencing a horrific trigger, and then having your partner walk out on you in the middle of the episode because they decide they can’t or don’t want to handle it, or you. You need to decide if this is something you can do.
You don’t have to do or say the right things all the time, but you do owe your partner love and support. And I can’t imagine them not providing you with the same. They aren’t looking for a therapist or some other doctor. They probably have that in line already. They just want their partner, they just want you.
Anonymous asked: How was the end of Sherlock racist/misogynistic? Because the woman didn’t win? Because they portrayed a Middle Eastern terrorist group? That’s not racist it was probably the most accurate part of the show. It was one of the best pieces of TV I’ve seen in a long while. I’m not some big fan. I’m also a girl so I think I’d be offended if it was ‘misogynistic’. I just don’t understand your logic.
I want to warn you that this will jump around everywhere, because there are so many things that work into why those scenes were Not Okay™, but here we go!
Not only did I dislike the hopelessness towards the end (Irene begging), but it is a very out of character act/emotion for Irene. To me, the larger issue here a woman seen as at fault for her organic emotions. Here she is being told to ‘stop being so sensitive.’ Thinking like that comes from an ultimate place of privilege. It comes from a place where no one has ever erased your identity and experiences. It comes from a place where you haven’t thought about and acknowledged the fundamental humanity in every other person, regardless of race, sex, socio-economic status, sexual orientation, gender orientation, or disability. It comes from a thoughtless place. This inauthenticity and lazy/selfish writing is just gross to me. Also that offhand comment about how it was Moriarty that gave her instructions on how to handle the Holmes brothers? That is just idiotic. Irene is perfectly capable of navigating just about every situation on her own, especially when it comes to an intellectual equal to her, like Sherlock. It is just like Moff to try and undermine a character’s integrity when it is so crucial to the scene, when it comes to emotional continuity, but twisting the canon for no real reason? Just stop.
I believe the ‘rescue scene’ is racist because it continues to perpetuate old stereotype about Middle Eastern groups, as well as the imagery being flat out cultural appropriation. Racism and cultural appropriation do not cease to exist because it’s television. Like all things, television can contribute to and criticize culture; Moff’s choices in the last scene both contributed to an existing culture which simultaneously vilifies and erases multitudes of peoples, cultures, and histories. It just isn’t acceptable.