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We are more alike than we are different


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We have had some stormy seas here in the last little while.

Opinions and experiences clash, emotions such as pain and anger, expressed or suppressed, surface, which polarise us - and what should be a sanctuary turns into a battleground, with ripples that run throughout the community.

I’d like to declare a truce.

This CAN be resolved and I suggest we begin this process. As idealistic as it may sound, I truly believe this is achievable. I believe passionately in the online support group format as an agent for healing.

The intention of this forum is: “I am in pain – I hear your pain.”

Being human, not everyone can hear everyone else's pain because we have pain of our own and another’s pain can trigger our own. Fortunately there are enough of us here, that everyone can be heard.

As I see it, one of the big causes of more pain is a “trigger – being triggered” situation. How can we organise ourselves so as to avoid this? How can we make it so there is sanctuary space for every single one of us? Let’s all brainstorm and discuss this.

The floor is open. Please deposit all weapons, including sharp tongues in the lockers provided. So to speak. :(

We are more alike than we are different.

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This is a great idea, Luna. I'm not sure that we can control all triggers, but we may be able to find ways to warn those who are reading of the potential for them. I wonder if there may also be some way of warning for specific triggering kind of topics.

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I agree wholeheartedly on the title of this thread: Every one of us is human, and has feelings. Every one of us hurts and fears and needs. And I do believe that we can do those things together, and help and comfort each other in the process.

My opinion, though, is that we definitely won't be able to avoid all triggers. What we might be able to do is manage it better when we are triggered. What will that take?

First, it requires recognizing the change in ourselves, that signals that we've been triggered.

Second, it requires considering the response.

Is it possible that we've misunderstood? Then it makes sense to ask questions rather than make statements.

Is it possible to say what needs to be said without insulting the other person or invalidating their opinion?

Is it possible to wait until the triggered feeling subsides, if we don't feel able to respond constructively, yet?

None of us here "knows" how to do this. We learn from each other. Not even the professionals who visit here "know". A forum is different from a clinical setting, so that we might benefit from their knowledge but we can't expect it to be "therapy". The most we can hope for, from them and from each other, is support.

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What does everyone think about this suggestion?

1. We preface the subject title with *Trigger*.

2. Then first up in the post, we say what kind of trigger it is specifically, as IrmaJean said.

3. Then we leave about 10 lines empty so you have to scroll down to read the post.

4. Then the post.

Then a reader would have been adequately warned and the writer could say what they wanted. This is how this was handled on depressionforums .com where I used to spend a lot of time.


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I think it's a good idea, this probably should be added to the rules of this forum, but at least one problem will remain: Everybody cannot "anticipate" (or have enought empathy to realize) what can be triggering to others. But we surely can't have the aim to prevent all possible problems (that would be too naive), thus...

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  • 3 weeks later...

Thanks Lala

I agree with you we can't anticipate everything. But I am also thinking the mods could keep a look-out for triggering posts and mark them as suggested above, or however we decide. Or a member could alert one of us (via Report Post, which emails us all directly.)

If we can mark at least most of the posts, it will go a long way way towards making us all feel safe in our openness and able to avoid that which triggers us.

I've bumped this thread up again as it seemed to fizzle out and I feel the issue merits attention.

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I agree Lala...we can't anticipate everything but I think if we have some general catagories and teach people to use them it will help.

Moderators can watch for things that sneak through without a warning.

The rest is up to the people who visit this site. We are responsibe for our own triggers in threads that are clearly marked. For example, if discussion of sexual abuse is triggering to me and I go into a thread that is labled as a possible trigger for CSA, I am responsibe for my own choice to go forward and reading that. We all have some personal responsibiity for the choices we make...

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So what are the types of issues that you consider we should mark as potentially triggering. Forums like this one discuss all types life issues that are potentially triggering. Can we be a bit more specific about what a triggering thread might touch on?

For example the pedophelia discussions can be very threatening, because many women here have a lifetime of pain associated with just this issue.... I don't know how to address it, but I do see it as triggering for sure. It's like a forum where people discuss together the long term effects and traumas of the nazis for example, while letting nazis come and defend the merits of the system. Free speech is all well and good, and even nazis can hurt, but if someone is here to defend the merit of the nazis as opposed to talking about their own pain, it is perhaps not the right site for them....

Hope nobody here is a nazi, it was just an example, and perhaps I should have put a cautionary note :-(

Edited by Symora
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I don't know if we can caution against all triggers. We all, as individuals, come to the table with a different set. But one persons triggers don't trump anyone elses. We need to find a way for this to be a safe and nurturing environment for all who come here whether we agree with their position or not.

Maybe some discussion about triggers and how to avoid/respond to them when signing up???? I don't know....my brain isn't working well right now....just throwing that out there.

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Thanks for starting this thread. I think this is an important discussion. I tried to move past this and simply let it be one I didn't post on, but my impulses got the best of me.

I seem to have a different angle than what has been presented here. I think there may be a misunderstanding here about what being “triggered” means. A person who has a strong reaction to the words or behavior of another person is not necessarily “triggered”; in fact, his or her reaction may be completely normal and healthy. Being "triggered" occurs when one has an overly strong reaction to someone else's speech or behavior because of memories of past experiences or due to strong feelings regarding a subject. The essence of being "triggered" is that the reaction is really to the past experience or strong beliefs/values, not to the present situation. Therefore, the reaction is often out of proportion to the present situation.

In contrast, there are situations where a strong reaction is, in fact, appropriate (and healthy) to the present situation. For example, if someone walks up to me and says "hi, it looks like you've gotten too much sun," and I go into a rage because the comment reminds me of times when I was denigrated because of my dark skin--I'm "triggered". But if someone walks up to me and cruelly states: "David, you’re a f____ng dumb-azz!” and I become angry, I have reacted NORMALLY to abusive behavior.

While I agree with what has been said so far on the thread, I think the problems are far more complex than "trigger" threads and posts, and catching them in time to make sure folk are aware of their existence. By their very nature, many triggers are irrational, difficult and impossible to predict. There are things all of us can do to prevent these types of situations; however, of greater concern to me are abusive members (and there have been several over the last year alone) who intentionally inflame discussions, harass, insult, curse at, threaten, or name-call other members.

Members who react to being verbally assaulted are frequently said to be "triggered", which linguistically places responsibility for the incident on the recipient for having NORMAL (and justified) feelings of anger, pain, isolation, etc.-- a sort of blaming the victim. Responsible self protection becomes a sort of double bind: you're damned if you speak out and you're damned if you don't. In the meantime, limited consequential action has occurred in relation to the poster who has indeed behaved irresponsibly.

My point is that there is a huge difference between being triggered, and having a normal reaction to abusive behavior. Many trigger posts are often abusive posts, in which case placing a “trigger” tag replaces the very real need of deleting the post and constructively working with the member who posted it.

Trigger posts can make the community feel unsafe for some: abusive posts can make the community unsafe for everyone.


Edited by David O
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I think my problem is that I don't know what is considered the line when it comes to abuse - a problem that perhaps stems from having been abused. Sometimes I can't distinguish what is acceptable and what is not ... and every milieu has it's own rules ... it's all very mind boggling

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I can easily see how this could be confusing. In order to not reinvent the wheel or create our definitions, we can start with the forum's own rules for ABUSIVE posts as a baseline and clarify it as necessary:

Flame wars, harassment, disrespect and premeditated offense will not be tolerated and may lead to disciplinary action, loss of membership or ban. Examples of disrespectful behavior include but are not limited to personal attacks, character assassination, back-stabbing, name calling, posting of demeaning comments, posting of personal or private communications not intended for public exposure, repetitive preaching or evangelizing, expression of prejudice, etc. Racism and prejudice toward ethnic groups, sexual orientation, religion, disability or toward any other groups or categories will not be tolerated.
There is also what the forum calls UNSAFE communication, and details it as such:
The following varieties of discussion should be considered UNSAFE at all times. Unsafe discussion is never appropriate to post within the Community at any time, due to the frightening or disturbing nature of such discussion. Any posts which are judged to be unsafe are subject to immediate removal.

  • Any detailed or otherwise graphic description or depiction of suicide, self-injury or violent acts
  • Any post that attempts to glamorize, or justify self-injury, suicide or violent acts
  • Any active plan or intent to commit suicide, self-injury or violent acts.

Posts that trigger, in my mind, are those that evoke strong feelings within us that usually are connected to our personal history, or that violate our sense of morality, values, beliefs. In these cases, the issue is much more cloudy and complex--- is a post triggering or are we triggered by it? A post can be one or the other, or both. Overall, I'm much more concerned about abusive posts since there is less room for interpretation and more capacity for expanded damage to the community.

My 2 cents,


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Yes, I've always thought of triggers as reactions to our past pains. There are feelings now, but the deeper, gnawing pain or upset has more to do with the past. It's a complex and layered emotional response...perhaps even interwoven with the present...but disproportionate to the present events which have taken place. But even then any abusive posts may be symbolically triggering in just that.

The more I consider this, the more I see these potentials as very personal responses by any one individual and nearly impossible to predict from an outsider's perspective. And, as seems to be the case for myself anyway, I am more easily triggered during times of emotional distress.

Certainly, as David has illustrated very well, we want to put a quick halt to abusive posts and unsafe communication. These are more clear-cut as unacceptable posts which won't be tolerated on these boards.

Of course none of this answers your questions, Luna. Maybe the answers aren't so easy in this. :confused: We control what we can and try to be aware of what personally triggers us.

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Hi Everyone, well I’m feeling a little better since I left the forum. I have had a difficult time dealing with trigger after trigger and then a trip to the ER for a blockage in my heart is just the topping on the cake.

I was feeling more comfortable coming back to the forum and I was seeing that some of our “regulars” are missing. I hope you are all ok J

I saw some posts that were positive and some again not worth the reputation of this site.

Luna you bring up a good thread and David I agree with you whole heartedly.

I would like to suggest that maybe because of the sensitivity of many members on the forum and the ability of just seeing some of the sexuality, small penis threads etc., I think it is a huge contradiction to many members on the site with PTSD, victims, survivors of sexual abuse. Triggers, mood swings, hormones etc are a big concern for many of us and sometimes it is not that easy to just “not open the thread and read it” I understand it is a personal responsiblity to know the difference but sometimes that is exactly what members need the most help and support with.

In trying to achieve a safe, supportive site,I would like to recommend that there be closed “rooms” that are not available to the public or certain members. This can be maintained by a separate password and the moderators will then monitor which members are allowed in each of the “rooms”

Maybe this way members who have a distinct varied reason for being on the forum will feel much more comfortable in sharing, participating and giving support to the members they are comfortable with who share the same values, beliefs and non contradicting support.

A safe forum is an invaluable place in today’s world and it seems to me there is a great wealth of supportive and caring members and moderators involved in trying to maintain a safe forum from a few members who are not worthy of the sanctuary of this site.

I wish the moderators much luck in trying to put your heads together in achieving a safe, supportive site.

Missed all of you :)


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Thank you David. :) I also agree with Danni that we are each responsible for our own triggers and must choose wisely what we read and respond to, especially when feeling vulnerable. That said, I still think a trigger warning will help for some categories of posts.

Something I have seen carry trigger warnings in other forums I've been a member of is descriptions of abuse and/or rape. This does not include "I was abused at age x", but the more graphic descriptions of the abuse or rape. I think this is a good example where someone NEEDS to talk, perhaps NEEDS to say it and that is, after all the whole point of the forum, to find support - but others may get thrown back into their own stuff. It is kind to label these posts for others' sake. It enables both the poster and others to be taken into consideration and have their needs met. (Please don't take this as meaning not to post about such! - I'm only talking about it perhaps being a good idea to add a trigger warning.)

Of course people can't know triggers for others but perhaps if we can talk about the common triggers we can educate ourselves more about it. Can I throw this out to the floor (it was already thrown but it would be good to hear from more members)? Abusive posts aside - what are topics that throw you back into past issues? What is it specifically in those posts?

Edited by Luna-
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Another thought Luna is that maybe Allen and David can be pro active in starting new threads and keep a continuus thread going with all of the issues that have been brought up by you and other members.

An example is the handling of triggering posts, why they trigger us, how we can help ourselves not be triggered and help talk out how others overcome these triggers and of course the input they regularly contribute to will be a very valuable added piece to the site. Group therapy in a thread!!!

I am sure there are other topics that can be introduced as a learning, coping and survival strategies for many issues we members struggle with.


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