If you have read our section on trauma, you will know that when you have experienced a trauma, like sexual violence, the memory is not processed in the same way normal memories are. This means that the memory can be triggered and you might have a flashback, where you feel like it’s happening again or start to feel hypervigilant/anxious.
A trigger can be anything, including:
- A sound
- A smell
- A place
- A physical sensation
- Certain words or turns of phrase, an accent
- People who look a certain way / have particular features
You will notice that you are triggered because you go outside your window of tolerance.
You can use the grounding techniques and breathing techniques to help manage your triggers, but first of all it can really help to know what your triggers are. Some of them might be quite clear to you (like seeing the person who hurt you) and sometimes you might be really unsure about what it is that has triggered you.
Keeping a diary of the times that you are triggered and what was going on at the time can help you begin to identify triggers.