Triggers and its causes…..

When a child/teenager is sexually abused they lose their sense of security, safety, control and personal autonomy. Many people have specific and certain memories of the abuse that are often re-traumatizing and intrusive for them.

I read once that these memories or thoughts become automatic and are reactivated by something in everyday life that reminds them of the abusive memory. This can happen to us consciously or unconsciously, and the trigger can occur from a number of sources including: a touch, a smell, location or physical sensation. Triggers can happen anywhere, at any time.

Every survivor of sexual abuse is triggered in their very own way. When we are triggered, the current situation is associated with that past memory of abuse, and triggering becomes a learned coping mechanism. Sometimes one may experience a panic attack, distressed, feel out of control or emotional for no reason that they can explain at the time. Sometimes we might also encounter triggers in the form of flashbacks (specific memories) or nightmares.

What about triggers and our sexuality? Triggers are highly linked to one’s sexuality when they are sexually abused and sometimes our response might be fear, sadness, melancholy or another emotion, but they may take it and re-experience in the moment when they are being intimate with another because they don’t know what to do about it. Some have learned to accept sex and the trauma as co-existing together and they really do not know how to separate the two, so sex for them can be re-traumatizing for them every time they engage in it, but they may also not have the words to vocalize it to their spouse. When a person feels overwhelmingly sad, distressed, and guilty or dirty after sex this is often associated with the previous sexual abuse but they may not know it.

Triggers are like a constant reminder of what has happened to us but they are also a significant message telling us that we are still healing.

I’m going to spend some time on “triggers” and what we can do to about them. I will also share a personal story of one of my triggers and how I am still coming to terms with it, and how God is continuing to heal this specific trigger in my life.

I invite our readers to share with us their own personal stories, triggers and how you have coped with and how God has healed and has walked through this trigger, memory or situation with you. I would truly desire for you to share with us what you have learned about triggers in your own life, because I believe it’s important to know that we are never alone and that others understand and are with us on this journey as well.

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4 thoughts on “Triggers and its causes…..

  1. My marriage ended 3 years ago this month. It is still hard for me to believe. Sometimes it’s hard for me to believe it’s over. Other times it is hard for me to believe it ever began.

    I had a lot of baggage from the past and did not ever expect to get married. I just didn’t think I was the type … or that I would ever be able to trust like that.

    I met someone that I could trust and that I felt completely comfortable with. But one day something triggered a memory. Slowly the memories and emotions from the past crept back in and eventually it became difficult for me to be intimate with him on any level.

    I began counseling, trying to “fix” myself. My husband was angry that I was talking to someone else about our problems. Eventually, the things I tried to do in order to fix the problem ended up making my husband so angry that he asked for a divorce.

    I know it hurt him to think that he could “trigger” bad emotions for me. He just couldn’t seem to be patient and try to understand.

    “Triggers” are hard for others to understand. Like you said, they can seem to come out of nowhere and then you’re left to try to deal with something you don’t understand yourself.

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  2. My heart goes out to you….how tragic that at a time when you needed the understanding and support of your husband he was unable to give it to you or be there for you.
    Abuse not only robs us but it also robs those we marry…it steals from our marriages too. I am saddened to hear that he was unable to separate what was triggering you from himself personally. I know in my own marriage it has been a process and has taken years for us to get to the place where our hearts are safe with each other. I know too that there were times my husband struggled to not take my “triggers” personally….if they are not willing to walk the path of healing with us it makes our journey that much more difficult.
    I pray & ask our heavenly Father to continue to carry you and walk with you on your journey of healing even when you have experienced devasting rejection.

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  3. I’m a survivor of a couple ugly experiences of childhood sexual abuse. And yes, there are triggers. I too am on my way to healing. Asking God to take my pain and renew my mind.

    Thank you for your website.

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  4. Thank you so much for reading along and for your words of encouragement. As we continue to ask our Lord to heal us and renew our minds, it is awesome to know that He will do as He has promised….we can trust Him, and we can trust the process… even those days when we feel like we are taking two steps forward and one step back….keep pressing in to the heart of the Father. Blessings

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