1) Identify potential triggering content that may come up in the course.
I am a survivor of sexual assault. I usually do not get triggered talking about the topic. I share my story often at universities. Last semester in a CJ class, a member of law enforcement (a guest speaker) made a comment about consent which was the exact thing said to me by a police officer in 1995 after my assault. This was the first time I was ever triggered. This was an extreme case.
I may become upset by graphic details of sexual abuse. I consider myself an empath, and I may absorb the feelings of others who have experienced great pain. When this happens, I just feel a heavy sadness for several days. It is nothing like the PTSD that reared its ugly head in the event described above.
2) When such content comes up, what will you do to prepare yourself?
I will check in with myself before I interact with the contact. How am I feeling? Am I prepared for the weight of the content? If I answer no, then I will wait until the next day, and I will try again. If I feel I am in a good head space that day, I will move forward. I believe we need to talk about difficult and uncomfortable things to learn from them.
3) While reading/watching such content, what will you do to stay calm?
I like to practice box-breathing. I will put my hand over my heart, check in with my body, and do a couple of rounds of box breathing. I also keep a notepad on my desk. I like to doodle. It calms me and keeps me centered. I have these tools available to me while I work.
4) What will you do if the content becomes too distressful?
I will put it away for the day. I'll check in with myself to see my level of distress. If it is a 10 like the situation described in #10, I will reach out to Dr. B. for an alternative assignment. If it is only a little distressing, I'll make plans to return to it the next day.
5) What resources are available to you on campus or off to help you?
The student health center is an on-campus resource. I do not think I would use it. I have a private therapist I can call. We have the SAAFE House 24-hour hotline available to us as well, but with my position with the agency, I would reach out to RAINN either by phone or online. I have a strong a loving boyfriend who will listen. My best bet for help is my therapist.
I wrote a list of self-care ideas that others can download. I tried to think of ideas outside the box for practicing selfcare. Interested? Download it here.