I’ve been contemplating the issue of trigger warnings.
I place them on posts containing certain graphic descriptions of violence, particularly violence against marginalised groups (including children), and particularly sexualised violence. I also sometimes place anti-warnings, on posts headlined ‘rape’ in some way, explaining that the content doesn’t contain detailed physical descriptions.
For me, the way I write, the people I write for, I see this as a straightforward courtesy. I’m not assuming they’re broken, I’m not assuming they can’t ‘handle’ it, I’m not accusing them of being delicate swooning petals; I’m offering the opportunity, should they wish it, to take a moment and choose to read now, read later, prepare themselves, or not read at all.
This applies to readers who consider themselves victims/survivors of violence, readers who don’t, and readers who lie somewhere in between.
But elsewhere, distilling quite a few conversations together, I read shit like this:
‘if graphic descriptions of violence are scary for you, switch off the internet right now and get some therapy’.
So, random internet psychiatrist:
What’s your diagnosis?
What kind of therapy do you prescribe?
How do you suggest your cyberpatients access this therapy?
What would be the goal of the therapy?
Because I tell you this: any therapy aimed at producing a me that no longer feels ill at graphic descriptions of horrendous violence against women, horrifying torture of Aboriginal people in custody, heinous murders of trans people, brutal bashings of people with disabilities, or nightmarish rapes of children, is not any therapy I’d like to have.
Because feeling disgusted, creeped out, sad, scared, or nauseous at these things doesn’t mean I’m ill. It doesn’t mean I’m broken. It means I’m normal. It means I’m paying attention. And it doesn’t need fixing.
I’d just occasionally like a moment to prep if it’s a story I could be bursting into tears over, or one that might be haunting my dreams tonight, and I know others do too. I don’t throw my weight around when other blogs don’t provide such warnings; but I choose to provide them here.