Defending Trigger Warnings: Trauma Survivor’s Perspective

22 September 2016

I get it. Trigger warnings make some people roll their eyes, and the idea of safe spaces makes them gag. They just don’t get all these overly sensitive people who need to grow thicker skins and get over it. Being asked to consider the content of speech carefully and to let people know if you are going to be discussing sensitive subjects can feel overzealous. After all, what is a “sensitive subject,” and what is the purpose of a trigger warning?

If you think the use of trigger warnings on college campuses coddles students and stunts intellectual growth, you don’t understand trigger warnings. A trigger warning is not censorship and it is not topic avoidance. Trigger warnings, or content notes, are a simple way to respect other people’s boundaries without intruding on their privacy.

Consider this hypothetical scenario between co-workers Charlie and Jamie: Jamie’s partner recently killed themself. If Charlie knows about Jamie’s loss, it would be cruel to nonchalantly strike up a conversation about suicide attempts. Even if Charlie doesn’t know about Jamie’s loss, Charlie is aware that tragedies happen to everyone and thus it would still be insensitive to discuss self-harm in a brainstorming session without first letting all attendees know it was on the agenda. That courtesy is a trigger warning.

Read entire article on Wear Your Voice Mag

Kristance Harlow

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