There has been a lot of talk recently about trigger warnings, content warnings, and safe spaces. I’ve seen it in my Facebook and Twitter feeds, I’ve experienced it working in a public higher education institution.
I am someone who is extremely appreciative of content warnings, so this is something I’ve really given a lot of thought to. Why do I appreciate them so much?
**Content Warning: partner violence, sexual assault. **
As a survivor of partner violence and sexual assault I appreciate content warnings. I appreciate them, not because I want to avoid talking about the hard topics, but because we live in a society that is full of triggers that are unavoidable.
I appreciate trigger warnings because every day, at least a few times, I have to work hard to keep it together when E is crying and shouting “No, stop, stop!” as I change her diaper and brush her hair.
I appreciate trigger warnings because sometimes (but not always) I get really angry when I’m washing dishes. I was sometimes forced to while he and his friends played Rock Band.
I appreciate trigger warnings because I never know what kind of apologist language I’m going to be exposed to driving to work.
I appreciate trigger warnings because there are some people in my life who take, without any thought to what the consequences might be for the person they are taking from.
I appreciate trigger warnings so that if there is a day where I know a hard conversation is going to be had, I can think about the experiences I have already had and make a conscious decision to avoid specific content that day.
I need trigger warnings where I can get them because a lot of my emotional energy is devoted to keeping it together when a trigger crops up without warning.
So no – I do not ask for content warnings because I want to avoid talking about the hard things. I ask for them because I do want to talk about challenging topics but I also need to be a functioning member of society.