I hurt for a long time because of childhood sexual abuse. Now I want to provide a safe place for hurting men to connect with other survivors of sexual abuse. Talk to us. You don't have to use your real name to share your experiences or ask questions.

Triggers

When I began to cope with my childhood molestation, the word trigger was a new concept for me.

As I learned, triggers can be internal or external, but they’re reminders of unresolved emotional issues. We often say that something happens to bring about what we call the knee-jerk reaction to negative experiences that haunt us.

Years before I got in touch with my abuse, one thing startled me, and I now see it as a trigger.

I’m one of those individuals who would eat anything and never said, “I don’t like . . .” A group of my co-workers and I had breakfast together in a home, and someone passed me a large jar of raspberry preserves.

I hurriedly handed it to my wife. “I don’t like raspberry preserves.”

Shirley stared at me. “But, honey, you like everything.”

I shook my head, and just staring at the jar nauseated me.

Years later, I understood. Mr. Lee enticed me to come into his room by offering me raspberry jam on saltines.

All of us survivors probably have triggers—even now—little things, ordinary events, or words.

Another trigger for me was the word special. When anyone said I was special, I became angry, but I couldn’t figure out the reason. Until later.

Mr. Lee used that word several times as he started patting my head and fondling me.

I rarely have those triggers disrupt my life today, but when I have a negative response to a neutral act, it says I still have unresolved issues. And by recognizing them, I can find healing.

Triggers alert me to
the still unhealed parts of myself.

2 comments:

Mark Cooper said...

Cec, thank you for this illustration of triggers. So helpful.

Someone touching my back has been a trigger for years. Especially if that someone was male. I would enjoy the touch, but my back would then ache, sometimes for hours. Other times I would enjoy and want the touch to linger, but also feel undefined rage and the need to cry.

This winter I had a flashback or dream. One of my abusers was touching my back. In the flashback / dream I remember thinking very clearly "If I relax and enjoy being touched, I know what will happen next". I did relax. Then he was raping me.

Cec Murphey said...

Mark, thank you. Most of us have some kind of trigger and I appreciate your candor in sharing yours. Mine are mostly specific smells, such as sandalwood cologne.

Cec