Recently in Australia the press, social media and in regular conversation has been focused on the conviction of Cardinal George Pell for sexual abuse of children. Whilst it is a great thing when someone is brought to justice for such heinous crimes, it provides a difficult time for many people who have either been victims, or are closely related to victims, of such acts in their own lives.
They discussions don’t come with trigger warnings – yet the discussion of the case, and the description of the specifics of the case, can have a massive impact on people who have experienced similar things in their lives. Often, people have learned to ‘cope’, and are getting along in their lives, and these moments can draw people back into their past, and reignite many of the bad thoughts and feelings that they may have previously suppressed to get on with their lives.
Even when individuals have dealt with their pasts, the coverage can create such an immense impact , often mixed in with surprise, that can rock even the best-coping individuals. The constant coverage, the follow up conversations and the associated memes can keep the unpleasant feelings and pressure on people whilst the story plays out.
It is important to recognise that people that you may know may be heavily triggered by the news, even if you are not triggered yourself. People often wrap their stories of abuse up in shame, and they can want it to be something that they prefer not to reflect upon. As 1 in 3 girls and 1 in 6 boys have been victims of some form of abuse, it is highly likely that if you have a few conversations on this topic, you will be speaking to someone who has either been directly or indirectly affected by such events in their lives, with the likelihood that they could get triggered.
What can you do?
If you are triggered, realise that you are not alone. It is useful to reach out to a trusted friend, or a service like Lifeline. Talking to someone can be a powerful way to reconnect and not get lost in your thoughts and feelings on the topic.
Understand that your situation is unlikely to be this situation. There may be similarities, however as you can separate yourself from this story, this news, you can create the space for you to see that your current circumstance has not changed because this news has come to light.
Steer clear of obvious sites or channels where such news will be repeated, and absolutely avoid reading any comments on social media feeds. If you were not triggered before, the extreme views often expressed in such comments can have a massive triggering impact.
Connect to a therapist or a therapy service to work through wha this coming up for you. Note what in the situation triggers you, what thoughts and feelings you generate, and how you respond.
If you are not triggered, please be aware that others around you may be triggered, and may be doing their best to cope. Treating the conversation topic and the people you are communicating with respect can be a real gift to those around you.
Notice if people around you are triggered by the coverage or the conversations. Reach out and see how you can help them, connect them to services or just be someone who stands with them.
Given the importance of this case, we are likely to see coverage continue for some time. Pay attention to yourself, care for yourself, and notice when you are moving toward being triggered.
If you want to explore your response further, contact Phil@reflectiveresolutions.com to find out more.