Original post here, but I’m posting the transcript again upon request.
What is a trigger warning (TW)?
A TW is an explicit statement that a following image or piece of text contains descriptions, language, or imagery that some may find disturbing, or ‘triggering’; i.e. likely to induce an extremely emotionally distressing response such as posttraumatic flashbacks, anxiety, or a strong urge to self-harm.
When should they be used?
This is by no means an exhaustive list, but a general rule of thumb is that if you suspect someone may be triggered by what you are about to write, include a TW. (“It’s better to be safe than sorry!”)
- physical, sexual, or psychological abuse or torture
- disordered eating
- suicidal ideation/behaviors
- discriminatory attitudes or actions
“Spaces that use TWs tend to be ones that expect and welcome readers with histories of trauma, and that think of them as people who matter, not just as points to be made in arguments.” - Abby
“I like TWs, because they reassure me that there are allies out there who see me, who know that I’m not invisible. I don’t find them condescending; I find them empowering.” - Dani
“I have PTSD and find most TWs to be useful. Usually if a story or article has a TW attached, I will think about how I am in that moment and either choose to read it, choose to read it later in a different and safe location, or choose not to look at it at all. This helps keep me on the path to healing.” - Ameilia
Why are they important?
Survivors and/including the mentally ill should be afforded every reasonable effort to be included in spaces often take for granted by others; they should be able to browse the internet, watch TV, and read [maga]zines without the fear of being propelled into a distressing emotional reaction because of the laziness/ignorance of others. It only takes a few seconds to write a TW - a small effort that could potentially save enduring repercussions for others.
How do I go about using them?
Commonly, TWs are found at the beginning of potentially triggering media, and comprise the term ‘Trigger Warning’ followed by a broad description of the upsetting nature of the content; (Remember: You don’t want the description itself to be triggering, so keep it general, but informing.) e.g. [Trigger Warning: graphic description of self-injury and suicidal ideation/behavior]. If you are using TWs online, make sure that any triggering content is linked, or behind a ‘cut’.
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