I have had all the responses to the story, wondering why she didn’t say no, why I didn’t learn to say no, when men aren’t taught to feel and hear no, swinging on a pendulum that keeps landing on “this iceberg of rape culture is the entire planet.” There was so much detail in the story, but I didn’t see anything about either player’s background of trauma, and what dynamics and socialization might have been playing out in that room.What I do know is triggers can look like extreme and overt responses, but they can also make us freeze, keep us very quiet, steal no from our mouths, keep us from being clear about what we want and don’t want, and cause confusion afterwards.I have been put off for a while at the overuse of the word “trigger”—I think too often people use it when they mean annoyed, or offended, or something less visceral than triggered.
There are so many reasons why these triggers happen.Fill it in: Are there certain touches or experiences which you know can completely hijack your system? You can leave it empty if you don’t actually get triggered in that way.Experiences which make you extremely uncomfortable can go in the middle ring, and so on.You are not obligated to disclose your past trauma.At this point I generally assume that anyone I am beginning a situationship with has some sexual or other trauma in their history, and I try to be forthcoming about the fact that I do as well.It can also be a swift transition from heavy petting to deep sharing. I would like to keep making out, if you’re down.” Sometimes the trigger is familiar, and once it passes I just want to keep going, not move into a big process moment.The connection may not be about that kind of connection, even if something is coming up in that moment. “Something is coming up for me‚ I’m not ready to share it, I think I/you need to head home.” If you want to leave or want your lover to go—make those moves.If that is too much, just fully withdraw your body from contact.If you know from past experiences that you have some triggers, it can help to name this up front and let your person know what they can do if you get triggered. We are having a moment of intimacy: a moment we’ve been desiring and have been moving towards.And here it is, clothing is coming off and the connection is good and new and hot and then boom—a flashback comes at the tip of a lover’s fingers, the thrust of a tongue, a hand at the throat—suddenly we are pulled back to a moment of terror, violation, or confusion.