When someone faces a trauma, one of the biggest post-trauma effects is triggers.
Triggers are something that your senses pick up that re-surface memories and cause distress. For example, if you have faced sexual trauma, you may be triggered by the music that was playing during the trauma experience.
Everyone reacts differently to triggers, many don’t show any signs at all, where as some may experience panic attacks or some may become aggressive. How we help others in this situation differs, also, depending on that persons individual needs.
So, we have put together a little help blog to advise you on how to take care of someone who has been triggered.
Ask them what they need
It is impossible to know what someone needs from you until you ask them, you cannot just assume that they need you to hug them as this could cause distress.
They may just need you to sit with them and stay silent while it passes. Either way, when someone is triggered simply ask them “What do you need from me? How can I help you?” and listen to what they say and do whatever they need (if safe to do so).
Do not judge
Like we said, everyone’s triggers are different post-trauma. They may be triggered by something that you don’t understand how it could be a trigger, but judging them for it is only going to make things worse. They need to feel that they are understood, even if you don’t necessarily understand.
Simply telling them, “I understand, I am here” is a perfect way of letting them know that they are understood and that their feelings are valid.
Respect their privacy
They may be triggered by something and not want to share what it is and why they have been triggered and that is okay.
It may seem like it makes it harder because you don't know what to say but to force them to speak up may only make matters worse.
Being there for them is enough.
Help them get support
There are thousands of places to call, email or go to in order to get help for trauma. Even if they do not disclose what it is, simply researching places to go for trauma help can really help.
Look after yourself
Something many of us are guilty of is putting others before ourselves. IT can be distressing when someone is facing a trauma and have been triggered by something, it could even trigger you. So, you must know your limits and respect them.
You mustn’t put the pressure on yourself to be their therapist, if it is too much for you to deal with, don’t feel guilty. Try and find someone else to help whether that be a bystander or calling a medical professional to help them.