‘Lancaster Survivors’ on the importance of trigger warnings
‘Each person has a different response to their trauma and all those responses are completely valid’
Trigger warning: Sexual assault, trauma
Lancaster Survivors is an Instagram page that supports Lancaster students who have experienced sexual assault, by sharing stories anonymously to raise awareness and help those who have faced trauma. Now with the support of over 800 followers, Lancaster Survivors has grown as a community to empower those who feel as though they have lose their voice.
Regarding the sensitivity of these posts, trigger warnings are an important element of sharing survivors’ stories as the themes and topics of each post may cause someone who has experienced something similar to relive distressing memories. The Lancaster Tab reached out to Lancaster Survivors about the importance of trigger warnings and why social media accounts that share stories regarding sexual assault must use them.
‘It enables a person to know what the content will be and therefore decide if they would like to read or view it’
Many people may not know what a trigger warning is and the purpose it fulfils. Lancaster Survivors said: “A trigger warning is given at the very beginning of a piece of content (such as a written post or a video) in order to alert the reader or viewer to a particular issue being discussed that may be distressing for someone.
“It enables a person to know what the content will be and therefore decide if they would like to read or view it.”
‘An individual might not be fully aware of how impactful their trauma is, or that they have even experienced something traumatic’
There are many confession pages that post content relating to sexual assault, abuse and trauma, with the intention of helping to raise awareness and help survivors, therefore it is incredibly important that trigger warnings are used to highlight the topic of trauma before anyone decides to read it.
Lancaster Survivors said that someone who has experienced trauma could be affected by the mention of that topic, causing a series of intense flashbacks or even panic attacks. They said: “Often an individual might not be fully aware of how impactful their trauma is, or that they have even experienced something traumatic, so it might not be until they see it written down that they are able to comprehend precisely what occurred, which can be emotionally overwhelming and detrimental to recovery if not done in a safe and secure environment.”
Furthermore, Lancaster Survivors said that the topic of sexual assault can be trivialised by confession pages, therefore including a trigger warning within a post signifies that they understand the true impact these topics can have. They continued: “Having a trigger warning written out in full will allow that function to work properly so that a person who does not want to see such content will therefore not be able to see it.”
‘Each person has a different response and all responses are completely valid’
The impact a post about abuse and sexual assault can have on someone still recovering from their trauma may be dangerous or harmful.
Lancaster Survivors said: “Each person has a different response to their trauma and all those responses are completely valid. For some it could cause an intense flashback, which can be terrifying and make someone feel as though they are back in that moment of trauma. For others it could cause a panic attack, which is physically draining and often difficult to stop.”
‘It’s always best to include a trigger warning’
When asked about whether confession pages have a responsibility to include trigger warnings within their posts, Lancaster Survivors said: “Absolutely – if you are going to be posting content that discusses something traumatic it’s always best to include a trigger warning as it costs nothing extra to do so and if it helps save just one person from having to relive a traumatic event, then it’s always worth it.”
‘There are cons to using trigger warnings’
Trigger warnings can help and hinder people’s recovery in different ways. Lancaster Survivors said that trigger warnings are important for people to decide whether the content is appropriate for them to read and consume, as well as allowing that person to take control over their trauma.
On the other hand, they said: “There are cons to using trigger warnings, such as if used where it’s not necessary, it can diminish the importance and purpose of a trigger warning.
“Likewise it should be used to warn people of potentially distressing content and not to warn a certain word, censoring words such as rape with an @ or * symbol can evade tags which a survivor may have blocked so they consume content they didn’t want to see.
“Social media can be a tough thing to navigate, and there may not always be trigger warnings given so sometimes it can be helpful to ensure that you are emotionally ready and working through any trauma with a professional should you need to.”
Lancaster Survivors’ Instagram can be found here.