Friday, October 20, 2017

Trigger Warnings and Owning Recovery

If you're recovering from sexual assault, it's been a rough couple of weeks. Again. This week saw the #MeToo hashtag sweep social media. There were no trigger warnings. And yes, people were triggered - people who are in the midst of attempting to recover their sense of safety and their sense f of self. Seeing all the #MeToo hashtags brought their trauma roaring back at them. Some were women. Some were men. Some were nonbinary. It didn't matter. Their only option for protecting themselves was to swear off social media for the week and pray the rest of us moved on in that time. As we usually do. If these folks are lucky, they have someone they can trust who can tell them when it's safe to tread the social media water once more. If they aren't lucky, they have to dip a toe in the water to see if Jaws is still down there waiting to chomp bits off of them.

Bringing awareness to the depth and breadth of the sexual assault issue in this society is a worthy goal. The problem is the cost of that awareness is blood squeezed from the already broken bodies and psyches of those abused in the first place. Do I believe that those of us who've been assaulted regain our power when we can stand up and say 'hey, this is a thing?' Yes. But it isn't my call to make. I don't get to drag someone else healing in their own time, in their own way through a simple hashtag. I guess I'm saying that a few people are realizing that every female, a few males and a few nonbinary folks they know have been assaulted. Yay. More eyes on the issue. I'm also saying that maybe there should have been a trigger warning somewhere.

On the other hand.

Most of you know I've had my issues with depression - the kind of depression that bottoms out in suicidal ideation. Translated: I get depressed and stare Death in the eye. He's not a bad dude. He does promise you won't have to feel any more and that can be mighty damned attractive. However. I have a firm grip on what we say to Death. So I sought treatment. It worked. It worked well enough that I no longer require treatment.

However. I know my limits and I own them. It's on me to take care of my mental health all day every day. I do not require or ask for trigger warnings. My issues are my issues and it's on me to handle them the same way I handle food triggers for migraines. If I don't want to wind up in an ER, I read ingredients and quiz the wait staff. Peanuts anywhere near this dish? Cheese? How about wheat? No? Woot! I get to eat! Mental health gets handled the same way. Post a graphic animal or child abuse video to my social media feed and get your ass blocked. My health. My responsibility.

So. Am I going to post trigger warnings to my fiction? Probably not. Simply because there are too many triggers out there in the world and I cannot possibly encompass them all. I will always alert readers to graphic sex scenes so parents can decide who gets to read what. I will also do my damnedest in the book descriptions to make it clear EXACTLY what kind of read you're going to get. Because let's be real. If you're writing trying to purposefully ambush readers with awful, you aren't edgy. You aren't an artist. You're just an asshole.