Trigger Warning: Taylor Swift, High School Musical

My name is Melanie, I’m a survivor, and my triggers are as follows: domestic violence, rape, Taylor Swift, and High School Musical. I’m going to talk a bit about them today.

I will always ask to be warned for the first two triggers, but won’t for the last two. It doesn’t matter that I don’t want all my triggers to be honored. U of Chicago won’t honor any.

Trigger warnings, also called content warnings, are content advisories that alert consumers of potentially distressing material (which could be trauma triggers). For example, in nearly all of my previous stories I’ve put a content warning at the beginning for suicide/suicidal ideation, so readers who may be dealing with SI can choose whether they want to engage with the material in the interest of their mental health. The idea behind trigger warnings is that it mentally prepares you for upcoming material. It’s about the same as reading a syllabus at the beginning of the semester.

A slide from a presentation about CBT. It would’ve been so helpful to have a trigger warning in the syllabus for this! I sat in lecture DISSOCIATING instead!

If trigger warnings are so brief, and therefore don’t take up much space in a post or document, and protects people’s mental health, why don’t people use them more often? — There’s many a lot of misconceptions surrounding trigger warnings; UChicago seems to think it entails censorship and coddling Millennials. Ugh.

Taylor Swift and High School Musical are parts of pop culture that people enjoy and usually don’t avoid on the basis of traumatic experiences. Too bad one reminds me of an abuser and the other reminds me of the night I was raped. In a perfect world, everyone would understand trauma triggers and I would be able to ask for content warnings for whatever the fuck I need without having to explain a thing. Until we get to this perfect world, I’ll just advocate for the needs of trauma survivors on the internet.